Job management is a straightforward matter of knowing what has to be done and making sure it is. It’s relatively easy to organise work, monitor its progress and tell people what’s going on – but if you can’t do it, find someone who can.
“There’s nothing difficult about job management, you just have to do it.”
Good job management is what gives you the chance to make great work, get more of it in the future and ensure you make a profit out of it. It’s the difference between a happy client and an angry one who refuses to pay the final part of the fee (the part you probably need to pay your wages). Job management is so important that on some big jobs, the client will not only insist you have a competent producer/manager involved, they may even appoint one themselves.
Job management starts before the job is confirmed by making sure expectations are aligned, written down and understood. And it ends after delivery and payment, with a final accounting of the profitability of the job and a follow-up call to ensure the client is happy. Information is the lifeblood of job management and the ability to find out what’s really going on is crucial to any producer/manager. They need to understand the implications of any problems or changes and adapt or compensate accordingly, all the while keeping an eye on the profitability of the job. It’s easy to solve problems by giving away the company margin, offering to pay for additional work or even reducing fees to compensate unhappy clients – it’s much harder to make sure jobs are delivered on budget and on time.
“Good job managers don’t buy their way out of trouble, they just work harder.”
Cost control is an important part of maintaining profitability. Most creative companies need some form of purchase order system or a way of monitoring costs on a daily basis. When costs are marked-up (increased by an agreed percentage) and passed on to the client, there needs to be a way of reporting current expenditure so that clients can be informed of anything that wasn’t anticipated. A client will often happily agree to pay an additional cost during a project if it can be shown to produce a better result – after all, we are dealing with creative work, not everything can be predicted from the outset – but a client is never going to be happy to be hit with a post-delivery bill that’s double what they were expecting to pay. Databases are useful tools for organising information about jobs, and simple spreadsheets are better than a shoe box full of coffee-stained receipts.
Organisation requires good time planning too. It’s hardly a secret that most creatives lose sleep just before a major deadline. It’s the nature of deadlines to focus thought and demand last minute extra work, but that doesn’t mean the work has to be compromised because of the failure to foresee a deadline. Most creative jobs come in stages; exploration, drafting, redrafting, finishing. Some of those stages may go through many iterations before progressing to the next, but each stage can have its own internal deadline to give you a better chance of making great work.
“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” ~ Douglas Adams