Alice Jakins is digital traffic manager at Dialogue, New Media’s digital agency.
Daily scrums, roadblocks and thinking like a CEO are just some of tasks handled by Dialogue’s Alice Jakins.
‘There’s never a dull day,’ says Alice, digital traffic manager at New Media’s digital agency. ‘I get to work with multiple brands, teams and projects and there’s a lot to juggle.
The digital landscape is ever-changing, so the role constantly requires new learnings and approaches, and adapting workflow accordingly. Here’s how my day goes…
Ensure our digital team achieves goals and deadlines
Every morning at 8:30 I have a 30-minute meeting with our project manager to look at the team workload, discuss projects and share any learnings. We clarify who’s going to be handling what from a project management point of view and decide on ‘highlights’ we want to share in the daily scrum.
At 10:00 I lead a daily scrum stand-up with the team. We look at what was completed from the day before, items to be tackled for the day ahead and any roadblocks encountered. This works really well as the team can quickly see who has too much on their plate and where they can step in to help each other out to get a task completed. When there are roadblocks we look to find a solution and way forward. With both project and retainer work to do, the team allocate a 70/30 time split to their day so they don’t lose focus by jumping too much from one task to the next. With New Media offering flexible work arrangements, team members sometimes opt to work remotely if there’s a particular task they know they can nail faster by working in a quieter space.
Meet (and exceed) client expectations
Our ‘clients’ are our internal content teams. All requests come to a central digital inbox and it’s my job to assign the requests out to the team, let the clients know when we’ll be done and keep them informed along the way until the final ‘Here you go’ packaged email. When we get a brief that needs more clarity, I’ll round up the necessary troops to do the ‘ask’. We also run regular Pop Corn Hour sessions for our internal clients where we knowledge-share a cool digital trend, learning or methodology.
Daily digital project management
Our project manager, Danie, runs the majority of our bigger projects, but I also take on a few at any given time. This involves compiling scope-of-work documentation, cost estimates, timing plans, briefs and amendments. We set up all the various meetings throughout the project life cycle and constantly address potential project risks, looking to solve these together with our team before they happen.
Assess operational needs
By having a bird’s eye view on all work in the system plus potential work on the horizon, and through daily interaction with our in-house development team, freelancers and internal clients, I’m able to highlight important department needs and advise on possible solutions.
Recently we had two new potential 10-week projects coming in, both due to start at the same time, and our in-house development team was already chock-a-block. My job entails considering solutions on how to run these new projects on top of the existing workload. So what could the resourcing solution plan look like? We found testing was taking a large chunk of time, so I motivated for a test device station and for Dialogue to get additional hands on deck to allow us to deliver better on the testing phase of our projects .
I also look at our current software tools and make purchase recommendations where required. For example, previously we were using Trello as our online project management tool and Toggl as our online timesheeting tool. There was a request for one centralised online tool to do both, so I looked into costs and features of other online tools and recommended that we move forward with Active Collab.
Analyse reporting data and make budget suggestions
All our projects and tasks are loaded onto Active Collab. When we create our projects we also create time estimates, and the team log their time against the various projects. Active Collab offers various reporting features that enables us to retrieve project profitability, time spent on projects, and view a future projects pipeline list. After nearly a year at New Media, I’ve gained a knowledge base in terms of the kinds of projects run and the technology stack used, the budget required to run these projects, and the skills used or needed. This information allows me to make suggestions around future department budgeting, which is useful when the new fiscal budget planning comes into play.
Keep adapting to enhance and improve digital workflow
Technologies change. Businesses change. This is how we stay on top:
Encourage the team to try out new tools
Recently, instead of creating and mastering a pixel-perfect large layered PSD design, our designer looked to use available online prototyping tools like InVision, Axure, Sketch, and so on, which offer a far more engaging and interactive experience for our clients. It dawned on me how laborious digital briefs can be – and when you have a briefing doc plus amendments plus CI docs to refer to, plus another folder with images, how should the digital designer remember everything? So we got a whiteboard, stuck on the CI elements, browsed through website references together on a big screen, mapped out the USPs for the website and starting sketching out a wireframe layout. Next we got our coder in and chatted about what design elements we can incorporate into a digital style guide to make the code roll-out more time- and cost-efficient for the client. Our learning: clients love interactive prototypes!
Employ various project management methodologies
With some bigger project roll-outs a sprint-style workflow approach might work better, whereas with a shorther 4-week roll-out, the more traditional waterfall approach with regular check-ins and reviews could get the job done. We try different approaches as one size doesn’t always fit all.
Dealing with curveballs
One might have the perfect schedule mapped out, but it often doesn’t work out that way. Humans get sick, technology fails or changes, projects get postponed or moved forward, project features get added. When ‘situations’ happen, it’s my role as a digital traffic manager to regroup, revisit, reassign, prioritise and find solutions. With an awesome team and aligned to New Media’s Purple Code behaviours, we find ways to work around urgent lastminute.com tasks that come our way. Our MD, Bridget McCarney, once said that when faced with a problem to solve, ask yourself: ‘What would you do if you were the CEO?’ Sometimes putting in some additional hours is what’s needed to get the job done – and that’s OK, because as CEO I will be coming in a little later the next day.
Written by MeganS