What does a Digital Producer do?
It is a question that I get asked more and more, what do you actually do? Well, let me give an overview of some of the roles and responsibilities of a Digital Producer.
The key to being a good Digital Producer is the ability to listen and blend to suit the needs of the team or project, a simple checklist of things you must do every day will not suffice as it is an ever-changing landscape.
Reporting & Financials - not the most fun part of the job, but one that is absolutely necessary to ensure success. You need to ensure that your reporting per project is up to date, time logs are done and reviewed, project pulses gone out to each client, estimated hours per project done to have a forward-looking plan on how successful or unsuccessful a project will be and most importantly updating the bible of a project - the Project plan - this like anything is constantly evolving and it will change day-to-day
Managing the team - Depending on your company structure you may be lucky enough to have a scrum master to help with this, but in many cases, this is not a luxury you will have, so what does managing the team entail. It is your responsibility to ensure the team knows what they are working on, the deadlines, resolve any risks or blockers that are preventing the team from working (this is anything from a faulty laptop to a difficult client), be the buffer between client and team and most importantly be there for the team when they have issues whether it be personal or work-related, you need to be a trusted member of the team and need to have the ability to listen and be empathetic but also firm where needed. It is a fine line, but if you can get it right you will have a successful team which in turn relates to a successful project. This means lots of stand-ups and lots of calls, hope you have a comfortable headset!
Managing the client - One of the most difficult parts of our job is managing the client, with anything you can have fantastic clients, but you can have horrid ones as well. It is the responsibility of the Digital Producer to ensure the client knows what is going on at all times. How do we do this, well every project and client is different, some clients will join morning stand-ups, others will not want to or have the time too, but one key form of communication is a weekly or in some circumstances, daily pulse. What is a pulse? It is a snapshot of the project at the current point in time, this should include responsibilities and who they are assigned to, risks, blockers, budget usage and most importantly, are we on track to reach our goal, this should go to every member of the project, both internal and external. I have also found that an informal call once a week with the client to highlight concerns or question is extremely beneficial. As a digital producer, you are the clients best friend somedays and their worst enemy others, but you do it for the health and success of the project, so don’t be scared to cope a bit of flack, it’s nothing personal!
Managing the scope - I’m sure we have all been in a circumstance where a project starts out as something small and before you know it, it has grown exponentially and the budget and timelines are irrelevant, it is your responsibility to ensure this does not happen. But how do you do this? The best way is through your User Stories and Acceptance Criteria’s, a user story is a short explanation of what you expect a piece of functionality to do from both a user’s POV as well as the back-end users POV, whereas an Acceptance Criteria is a set of criteria that must be achieved to ensure success, these should both be signed off by the client before commencing work and then along the way, it is your responsibility to pull both the client and sometimes the team back down to reality to ensure they are not going outside of the proposed scope of work. It is not an easy task, and people will at times not be the kindest, but it is your responsibility to protect the scope and budget at all costs.
Blending to help where needed - This is another crucial part of being a Digital Producer, you should have knowledge across all areas to ensure you can jump in and help out where needed. An example - the project’s dev team has made good progress, but we are becoming bottlenecked at QA where we do not have enough resource, it should be the job of the Digital Producer to jump in and help resolve the bottleneck, whether that be bringing an additional QA on to help, or jumping in and doing QA themselves. You need to be able to blend and assist where needed to ensure progress is continuing to move forward.
Identifying opportunities - A good Digital Producer will not only do the project they have been assigned but also keep an ear and eye out for future opportunities and the next project. This could come from an existing client or a new client, but having an ear and eye out will ensure you continue to go from one project to the next.
7. Be the glue that holds the team together
It is a tough, demanding, stressful and sometimes thankless job, but I wouldn’t do anything else!