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JAMJAM is an Amsterdam based creative agency specialized in fashion and lifestyle marketing.
Just before the festive season starts we decided to throw a little feast of our own, celebrating 6 years of JAMJAM and our wonderful brand new office. The award for the most overused and trite term used in the creative agency goes to… “Think outside the box.” Why then write a post that props it up as an important element to the creative process and creative project management? A koan is meant to bring about deep reflection on a topic with the intent of taking the practitioner closer to the goal of enlightenment. Hi, my name is Damian, and I have a problem with the current state of estimating in creative agencies. Do you also have an agency that is averse to estimating? Really enjoying the case studies presented in regards to the benefits of limiting WIP to increase efficiency.
Kanban has a great use in any situation that could use the structure of a pull system to enter work into the flow.
The Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) methodology promotes scheduling projects in a way that is cognizant of resource constraints and avoids multi-tasking. Earned Value Management (EVM) is a tool that can help the creative agency get a quick look at the overall health of a project. If you’ve read any of my other posts you can tell I really go for the concepts that apply rules to creative agency project management. Can you recall being in grade school and learning the inverted pyramid system of writing expository essays? The EVM system consists of a series of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) that produce objective analysis of projects throughout their life cycles. Formula for Earned ValueThese two things will get us to the Earned Value (EV) of a project. The Earned Value gives the creative project manager the tools to measure the effort put into completing a project and it opens up the ratio of the project CPI.
The CPI is valuable because it tells you the efficiency of your work. We are looking for a value of over one. This entry was posted in Creative Agency Project Management and tagged CPI, EVM, Performance Metrics by Damian Sian.
Your firm may use software solutions to track project tasks and schedules, but there is also a physical, tangible asset in you work flow: the job bag.

A Spaghetti Map is a visual depiction of a physical work flow borrowed from the Lean Manufacturing world.
The best way I have found to diagram a project’s work flow is through the swim lane diagram. Mention the word standardization in the creative agency an you are likely to see an abrupt change in the countenance of your audience. A seemingly innocuous term that is the building block of any creative project’s schedule. Because I enjoy irony, and there is a lesson to learn in this aphorism that is oft overlooked and deserves greater attention afforded to it. These concise and clever proverbs contain gems that afford a better perspective on complex topics. The inference in business terms becomes improvement, or the process of continuing improvement. There is a lot of ground to cover on Critical Chain Project Management but in this post I want to focus on a key area that may be one of the hardest to swallow; limiting Work in Progress (WIP) by staggering project schedules.
This will cover a wide range of topics and will have some overlap in other ares, particularly Traffic Management. I want to review a couple of the key concepts of EVM and apply it to a health check that can be performed on a project over time to give the creative agency project manager a useful report to check on a project’s health. A concept as succinct and transmutable to business applications as The Rule of Seven is quite appealing to me. The system stipulates your introduction ought to be started out broad and then focus to a thesis point. There is one indicator in particular that I will focus on for the project health check, the Cost Performance Index (CPI). The swim lane not only tells you the process in a sequential manner, it also indicates roles and responsibilities at each step. Creative projects suffer from imbedding false assumptions and self-limiting beliefs into the project plan via a vertical, linear thinking that keep ideas well inside this proverbial box.
Kaizen’s history in the business world began with manufacturing and is closely associated with 5S Lean, but like any simple theory based in the scientific method, it can be applied to broad range of industry. The uninitiated may look at that resource as the weakest link in your process, but a closer examination would point the finger to poor scheduling.

The CCPM method then adds another step that many in the creative agency profession would find shocking: cut those durations estimates in half!
Topics will include scheduling, resource allocation, and project performance measuring strategies. Conversely, in the essay’s conclusion, you should reverse the process by recapping your thesis and move out to broad strokes that recap the points of your essay. The creative project manager can use this tool to evaluate a portfolio of projects at a glance to see which are in need of attention, thus helping in resource allocation and budget planning. A Kanban Board may be the perfect tool for the creative agency Traffic Manager to track physical assets through your agency.
By performing this exercise you will measure distance and duration, and more importantly, visualize the patterns your processes take.
These diagrams are a great way to visually explain processes within the organization for both Project Managers and Traffic Managers alike. I would argue that holding the principles of Kaizen as a core value is especially imperative for the Creative Agency Project Manager. Drum Buffer Rope (DBR) seeks to provide a solution to this resource overload through a limiting WIP principle. I’ve always liked this model and would I like to propose that its simple relationship can be translated into a project management scenario in the creative agency. Skilled project management professionals within the creative agency should be able to find the fundamental basics of project work-flow the that can be standardized across what would seem vastly different project types. Specifically, the inverse pyramid model has value in the realm of closing processes in the creative agency project. Let’s review a 12-step program that can lead your creative agency to a rehabilitated estimating process.

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