Most agency professionals are all too often focused on pushing projects through the pipeline and closing a sale. This is the basic sales funnel of tactics. Yet, they often overlook factors crucial to their success rate, like budget, time tracking and schedule coordination.

Some agencies may implement project management software to easily track job progression and monitor their profit center. However, agencies may suffer if they don’t have someone to watch these systems. Rather than relying on project management software alone, many agencies hire a traffic and production manager to improve project visibility and track project intake.

So, what is a traffic and production manager?

A traffic and production manager manages the workflow for all jobs or projects—overseeing productivity from beginning to end. They often communicate with external vendors and confirm deadlines with the client. This individual is also responsible for opening and closing out jobs. They work with and ensure the creative and account teams complete projects on time and within budget.

Many agencies don’t see the need for a traffic and production manager, especially businesses with a smaller income. Why pay for a something if you don’t need it? Creative agencies tend to focus more on the account executives, as they are responsible for moving projects along and initiating new points of focus. In turn, this leaves the creative team to determine what projects are a priority and what their next steps are after they finish.

Why are traffic and production managers vital to agencies and smaller businesses?

Cyndi Urbano of Cella Consulting explains, “Project managers have enormous impact on a project’s and a department’s ROI (return on investment). They keep scope creep at bay; they ensure projects come in on time and on budget; they reduce the frequency and breadth of redoes; and they keep clients coming back again and again.”

How can agencies incorporate a traffic and production manager into their workflow?

To bring a traffic and production manager into the mix, you must introduce them to the agencies’ workflow process. Here they can closely monitor job progression and resources needed. Don’t be surprised if the traffic and production manager finds flaws in your existing process. After all, isn’t that why you hired them?

If an agency uses a project management system, it’s vital that the traffic and production manager becomes familiar with the system. Not only will they use this as a daily guide for maintaining project schedules, but this will also help quickly resolve production issues to prevent time loss.

What skills does a person need to be a traffic and production manager?

Like most professionals, it’s important to stay organized and keep a system of checks and balances. In order to effectively keep track of project priorities and deadlines, it’s best to maintain a calendar for all top-level projects, as coordination is key. Many traffic and production managers must communicate with outside vendors, new talent and internal staff. It’s often appropriate for him or her to be a persuasive negotiator, as well as a collaborative leader.

Other skills include a background in logistics, business, and budgeting. Although they aren’t required, it helps for traffic and production managers to have writing and design skills. This is especially true for those who plan to obtain a career at a marketing or design agency.

Ultimately, traffic and production managers are able to improve utilization of all agency tools. They put in place a workflow process that is both efficient and beneficial to every department. As agencies continue to streamline their processes and provide actions of recourse, they are able to move one step closer on the road to success.