March 28, 2014

Who Says Project Management Can’t Be Sexy?

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Girls just want to have fun … with increased brand recognition through social influence.

On this episode of the TechnologyAdvice podcast, I interview Kristy Sammis, Chief Creative Officer and Chief Operations Officer of the Clever Girls Collective empire. And it is an empire.

Clever Girls rules over 6,000 subjects, primarily women, though there are some men with female audiences who have been allowed entrance. Each and every person in their stable is vetted before being accepted.

These women (and sometimes men) are influential bloggers, Instagramers, and Pinterest aficionados, each occupying a niche market. Brands approach Kristy wanting to connect with these content influencers in honest and authentic ways.

Presiding over 6,000 independent individuals is a momentous mask, and requires some serious software to make it happen.

Finding the best project management software match has been, as she explains, a years-long story of trial and error.

When the company was first started, Kristy primarily used Google Forms and Google Documents for both project and membership management. Her needs quickly grew beyond the capabilities of Google’s free tools however, and thus began her search for the perfect software solution.

While she still uses Google Documents for different purposes, it was insufficient for collecting data on their rapidly-growing member base. The first jump was to Salesforce. Although she still praises the product, it didn’t meet her needs. As she puts it, they weren’t using the features it did have, and it didn’t have the features that she needed (if only she’d had some sort of smart tool to advise her…). She realized that their needs really called for a membership management tool, which led to an application designed by a small company in Canada. This worked better, though they eventually outgrew it too.

Finally, they approached a technologist in order to build out their own application. It proved to be the solution they needed, though even it has seen multiple incarnations. However, Kristy isn’t bound to any one program.

The company’s size allows it to try new technologies as they emerge and develop. Without that flexibility, they never would have been able to freely move from solution to solution. It’s one of the things Kristy appreciates most. It’s hard to know if something isn’t going to work, and having the ability to jump into something new is invaluable.

As a project manager who has grown with a company – and learned from her mistakes – Kristy strongly encourages documentation of all processes. In her words: “if you can’t replicate a process, it’s not a process.”

If you were to get hit by a bus, your company should be able to hire someone who can read your documentation and fulfill the expectations of your role.

Blunt, but accurate (this really is a fun one to listen to).

Hand-off points are places to especially focus, as proper documentation allows for a more regular and efficient process. If someone in your pre-sale process insists they don’t need the details, insist that they are wrong. Everybody benefits when they’re on the same page.

The excitement of Kristy’s work comes from the unpredictability of emerging social media, so she has a hard time making a prediction for the next couple of years. She just looks forward to seeing how things evolve, and how they can use it.

Takeaways for project managers:

  • Your perfect solution may not be your first
  • You have to commit to trying a solution before dismissing it
  • Document your process – “if it isn’t replicable, it isn’t a process”

What do you think? Is project management sexy? What tools do you like best? Let us know in the comments!

Is “project management best practices” a sexy topic? I did my best to make it so. Thanks for the interview @ClarkBuckner!

— Kristy Sammis (@kristysf) March 26, 2014

TechnologyAdvice Podcast