Looking for your next role? If you’re relatively new to project management, you may be keen to take the plunge into a new area to kick start your career and climb the career ladder quickly.
Software? Fashion? Household products? Or perhaps you want to break away from in-house roles all together and make the side-step into agency life. But is the grass always greener? Here we take a look at some of the main distinctions between digital project manager roles in-house and in agencies.
1. The pace and the workload
Agencies are notoriously fast-paced and suit people who thrive in a hard-working, up-tempo environment. Because there are a number of projects – for a number of clients – on the go simultaneously, workloads can vary hugely.
One day you may be juggling deadlines across the board, the next you could be facing a lull. You need to be the kind of person who can split his focus and offer the same diligence and attention to every project. By contrast, project managing in-house means you are with one project from inception to completion. The increase in workload is steady, following the trajectory of the project itself.
2. Specialism vs variety
Working as a digital project manager in-house means you become highly specialised in a chosen field. You are working for just one brand, and very often, for just one particular offering of this brand.
So much so, that those project-managing in-house can sometimes find themselves sliding towards the realm of product managing. Take a software company, for example. An in-house project manager there might be responsible for overseeing the creation and release of one tablet. They will get to know all the nuances and quirks of this particular product to the exclusion of any other products the brand may produce. Agencies may not offer this degree of intense specialism but they make up for it with variety. No two days at an agency are ever the same, and the gestation of projects tend to be a lot shorter.
3. The speed of career progression
Just how quickly do you want to get to the next stage in your career? Agencies are like a baptism of fire and can offer fast-paced, hands-on experience across a broad portfolio of clients. There is scope to move up the ladder rapidly in this environment. If you get in-house with a start-up company that’s growing rapidly, it really facilitates you moving up the ranks.
But if you’re in-house with a company that’s likely to stay small or a large company that is big and anonymous, your career progression can be adversely affected.
4. Feeling close to the goal
When you are working as a digital project manager in-house in a company, and the project is completed, there is a real sense of jubilation, a true feeling of achievement and celebration. With agencies, things can feel a bit more anti-climatic. Completion of one project is merely a blimp on the horizon with so many other projects still underway.
With the increase of startups across the globe digital project managers are required to be more hybrid. An in-house digital project manager in these sorts of environments will need to think quickly and creatively within a target driven role. These roles can have unlimited growth potential for a candidate looking to put in the hours. Working on a digital product bid to design to implementation would give a PM in this role a unique opportunity to see an end to end lift cycle of a project – which you might not get within a larger Agency role.