Being a producer basically means solving problems, constantly. Or as my fellow Producer Gerardo Gil once read, “being a Project Manager is easy. It’s like riding a bike — except the bike is on fire, you’re on fire, everything is on fire and you’re in hell.”
The reality is that Project Managers tend to get a bad rap. That’s partially based on some truly bad apples that give the rest of us a bad name by not really doing their job effectively, i.e.: simply transmitting other’s (and their own) anxieties to the rest of the team and forwarding emails. And, in part, it’s due to the fact that — unlike the rest of the members of the team — a PM’s effort is not as palpable and can’t really be translated to a specific deliverable. Our job is specific and general, all at the same time. If you’re doing your job right, you’re probably aware of all aspects of the project and ensuring that everything is on point and moving forward.
When I started out at Indicius, almost 5 years ago, I knew nothing about this field and my main qualifications were being bilingual and having good interpersonal skills. Here, I discovered I had a knack for solving problems and helping organize things. I also acquired loads of info about what a user’s experience really entails and how to align it with the client’s business goals. Even though I’ve learned so much throughout these years, I feel like the more I know, the more aware I am of everything I still have to learn.
Project Managers are basically the nexus between the client and the team. As such, we need to ensure seamless communication, set realistic expectations, and make the process — hopefully — an interesting experience where we end up with a great product that the team can be proud of and the client can use to further their goals. The process is everything, or at least that’s the way I see it. It’s a complicated process where lots of different people that speak various languages and have diverse roles need to align to work towards a common goal.
For the duration of the project, we become a team, and organization is what enables everyone to know what they need to be doing, raise their hand when something comes up, and feel confident that we’re going to be happy with the results, at the end of the day. But no matter how great you are at organizing things, how many Basecamp tutorials you’ve seen, how many lists you make, problems will always come up. Some people have a harder time dealing with them and instead of focusing on a solution, they fall into a vicious circle of ‘who’s fault is it’ that never leads to anything good. Problems are a part of life and the more adaptable we become, the better we’ll get at dealing with them. Usually, they even end up making the product better than we envisioned it would be and teach us something new along the way. Whatever the case, this is when teamwork is truly put to the test.
Fortunately, at Indicius, we have an amazing in-house team and an equally awesome network of freelancers, partners, and just overall talented people that help us create an atmosphere where problems are just challenges waiting to be tackled. We usually have pretty good clients too, but every once in a while, we get complicated projects and that’s when we really put ourselves to the test. And you know what? We end up learning from them and even develop stronger bonds by using our wit and our sense of humor. In conclusion, when you have a solid team and efficient processes, the glass is always half full if you’re willing to focus on the solution and overcome whatever problems arise.