To service our clients in the best way possible, we have a team of Account Managers and Project Managers. When embarking on a web project with NetConstruct, you will be provided with a dedicated Account Manager and a Project Manager who knows your objectives inside and out and has all the necessary project management skills. There are a number of benefits to us taking this approach, so we chatted to Account Director, Sarah Pickles, who has been with NetConstruct for 10 years. Keep reading to find out how these two roles work in unison to deliver the optimum client support.
What’s the difference between an Account Manager and a Project Manager?
The Project Manager and Account Manager work very closely together but have different roles. We tend to split it so that our Project Managers are very much an internal resource and the Account Manager is the primary relationship holder with our clients. The Account Manager mainly focuses on maintaining a strong working relationship with the client. This is the person who really understands the client’s business and what they want to achieve. They can offer real value and ongoing advice through their ongoing relationship. Responsibilities can include running meetings, updating the client regularly on progress, or anything else that they need to be aware of during the project.
The Project Manager will look after the project itself such as timescales, budgets and the schedule, ensuring that all disciplines are scheduled in as and when they need to be. For example, if something crops up in development that the client needs to be aware of, it’s the Project Manager’s responsibility to raise the issue with the Account Manager.
What are the benefits of having both working on a web project?
For me, one of the biggest benefits is communication. Having an Account Manager and Project Manager working in unison on the same project provides peace of mind for the client that they'll always have somebody they can contact. If needs be, the Project Manager will step into a client-facing role. And likewise, the Account Manager can step into the Project Manager role. We work extremely close together to ensure that we’re both aware of exactly what's going on at every stage of the project.
As the Account Manager is the relationship holder with the client, they're also the one that will head up the full account team and the ongoing relationship once the project is finished. However, both roles are involved from the very first project kick-off meeting, meaning they have a clear understanding of who the client is and what their objectives are. This means, moving forward, they have an in-depth knowledge of the project and what the end goal looks like.
Many agencies only have a designated Project Manager. In these cases, when a project ends and it moves into an ongoing relationship phase, it’s usually at that point it will be handed over to an Account Manager. By having both working on the same project, the Account Manager knows everything they need to know from the start, including the research and discovery stage. This ensures that when the site goes live, we don't miss anything that we had initially set out to do such as what the UX workshops identified. It essentially means there is a very clear roadmap for the full team to be on board with and follow.
Having two people who are consistently close to the project on our side also means if someone was off sick or on holiday, the second contact has the same knowledge of the project and can continue progress in their absence. Our Project Managers and Account Managers have worked this way for some time and have clearly defined roles - we know what's expected of each other. This works really well from an internal perspective as the whole team knows who their point of contact is.
How does this unified approach help overcome common website project challenges?
Our choice to have a dedicated Account Manager and Project Manager on every one of our web projects ensure the client gets the most value out of our time and their investment.
There are many different reasons why a project doesn’t go live on time, but having a unified approach helps overcome some of these challenges. I have found the majority of delays usually happen within the preview phase and the content entry phase. Often, it’s easy for clients to underestimate the amount of time needed and the effort involved to collate an entire site's content. We have a content modelling process that our UX and Design team undertake when they build the site maps. It basically gives an overview of what detail is going to be on each page so the client can start planning early on. The Account Manager can work with the client to ensure that progress is on track from their side and then feed this information or any expected delays back to the Project Manager.
Hosting is also a frequent delay in projects. For example, many businesses have an IT team who know exactly what they’re doing, where the site is going to be hosted and how access will be granted. But these types of conversations need to happen with the Account Manager early on so the impact can be taken into consideration during the project.
Linking into this, a key factor that the Account Manager would discuss with the client is scope creep as this can have a big impact on delays too. Team members not signing off on different stages in the agreed timescale can cause delays also. For example, if a member of the team delays a sign off by three days, that doesn't necessarily mean a delay of three days on the project. It can actually be a lot more damaging because we have to move things around in our schedule and put people on other work. That’s an important factor for brands to be aware of prior to starting a project. These are factors that the Project Manager can work to overcome by scheduling time in the best way possible for the project to continue moving.
In short, having these unified roles helps to overcome challenges by always having two pairs of eyes on the project. The Account Manager can focus on the client’s business and offer ongoing advice through necessary conversations, while the Project Manager can focus on managing the individual components of the project.