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Webinar: How To Create a Proactive Project Management Strategy with Marcus Ohanesian

It’s easy to see that from a mile away that Marcus Ohanesian is a pretty cool dude—if you won’t take our word for it, check out his business card.

Even if you’re more of a wine or milkshake fan than a beer buff, you’ve got to admire the authenticity of Marcus’ personal branding. And don’t even get us started about the consistently stellar quality of product representation through his agency, Perfect Evolution.

Besides being a jack of all trades and lover of all sandwiches, Marcus is a guy that gets results. His proactive strategies in project management have saved his clients over a million dollars in the last year. So imagine just how thrilled we were to recently have Marcus as a guest on our webinar series, teaching us about upping our project management game with “How to Create a Proactive Project Management Strategy.”

While we will let you watch his presentation for all the fine details, we’d like to break down a few points that resonated with us.

Reactive Project Management vs. Proactive Project Management

Your project management style determines your relationship with your clients and your projected success. You are either a project manager with a proactive or reactive project management style. 

Both project management styles are unique, with distinct perks and downsides. 

Reactive project management

A reactive project management style tackles issues and problems as they arise—more like dealing with project risks on the go. This style typically lacks the use of foresight to predict likely problems and proffer solutions before they happen, leading to the adoption of immediate and temporal alternatives.

Think of it as firefighting. You only make moves to put out the fire when it starts instead of doing everything to prevent an outbreak.

This style could also involve looking at past activities to determine the next steps and sticking within the project scope. As a reactive project manager, the one thing constantly on your mind is keeping your head and staying above water because you are often one step behind. 

There are several downsides to adopting the reactive management approach. For starters, you’ll always have angry and unsatisfied clients pulling at you from all sides. Before long, you start getting overwhelmed and stressed from things going out of control. 

Proactive project management

Proactive project management takes a more responsive approach to handling issues before they arise. 

Foresight is an essential driver of this strategy.

The beauty of proactive project management is that it leaves you in charge of things, like a railroad conductor who knows all the routes and upcoming stops ahead of time. In this case, you understand the whole breadth and scope of work— you know what to expect up the pipeline. Proactive project managers have an uncanny ability to see the impact of current progress and look into the future for relationship nurturing, resulting in more billable work from clients.

As a proactive project manager, you are always one step ahead. Consequently, you can be sure of more appreciative clients and a more calm and collected work environment.

Define your project management goals

Whether you are a reactive or a proactive project manager, barring random catastrophe, can largely be determined by your project management goals. 

You want to have proactive conversations and check-ins with the clients at the beginning of a project; It is more convenient than waiting until the final review. These conversations open a channel for the client’s expression of ideas and visualization of the final results. 

Marcus also advises that it s essential to approach each client with a “value-driven mindset” by providing value upfront without leaving the client second-guessing your intentions. Ultimately, you want to earn your clients’ money, continued patronage, and their recommendation of you to other potential clients. Basic service and task completion won’t get you there. 

The difference between a one-paycheck client and a long-term ally is the passion you transmit to the client concerning their ambitions and project success.

Proactive project management does that for you.

Our favorite tips and tricks

There are countless ways to achieve the empathy and initiative of a proactive project manager, but these four tips from Marcus really hit us close to home: 

1. Create a digital “back pocket.”

It is always a good idea to create a digital back pocket for ‘nice to have’ ideas suggested by clients throughout the project that are not in the initial project scope. These could be subtle or outright suggestions hidden between the lines of emails, slack threads, or phone conversations. 

When you develop the habit of conversing with your client regularly and looking for problem-solving opportunities, you tend to create a stockpile of ideas. You want to keep these stored in a separate note within a project management app or in your files—stick them in your “digital back pocket” for later. 

These ideas and discussions serve a twofold purpose. Not only can they act as a springboard towards other solutions for the same client, but they could serve as inspiration to better your relationship with another client who might find the concepts more appealing. Either way, you’re not grasping for straws or divine inspirations in the final seconds before your client’s Zoom call. You’re prepared and ready to take on the world.

2. Optimize downtime

You are not always going to be working on projects 24/7. 

So what can you do when you experience some downtime? When you are not taking time off, you and your team can look around for things you can optimize for better effectiveness and efficiency. Downtimes present opportunities to take proactive steps to ensure things are as they should be.  

For instance, you can use downtimes to scan and audit your website for opportunities around speed and performance. This way, you offer quick value to clients, preventing major site performance issues from arising long-term.

Another way to put your downtime to good use is proactively surfacing new maintenance work, like spotting and improving problematic codes on a website. The idea is to search out billable value-providing opportunities that your clients may not even be aware of to upgrade their experience.

4. Find ways to save your client money.

This one might not be glaring to project managers, but it is instrumental in conveying an interest in your client’s company and the project. 

Everyone loves to save money, including your clients, and showing them new ways to help them save money while maintaining optimal results will always be welcomed. 

Proactivity prompts you to dig into your clients’ businesses to learn more about their costs, processes, current tools, and leveraged services. Once you start looking into these areas, chances are you will find processes that require automation to save time, costs that need cutting down to save money, and performance structures that need upgrading to improve user experience. 

If there are any instances where you encounter holes in your client’s spending practices, whether through unnecessary paid features on a company communication app or a misallocation of funds, speak up! It demonstrates a genuine interest in the well-being of your project and beyond.

5. Be aware and in-tune

What better way to be a proactive project manager than integrate yourself into your clients’ teams? You don’t want to come off as an external party observing things from the outside. You want to blend in as much as possible. You never really know which areas of the project are problem-prone unless you become concerned like a team member would be.  

As an acting team member, you should stay up-to-date with your clients’ weekly, monthly, and quarterly business goals. Schedule monthly or quarterly check-ins to zoom out of the day-to-day and focus on long-term goals and initiatives. It also helps to check in with your clients to see how well you are performing and their level of satisfaction with your services.

Another way to stay in tune with your clients is by signing up for their newsletter.  

Marcus doesn’t insist that you read the newsletter daily; he is not commanding that you clog your inbox either. In fact, he recommends creating a separate email folder to receive these newsletters, which you can check once a week or so.

This tip is another point of proactive project management that serves multiple purposes. For one, having an eye on the company email allows you to introduce email content into client conversations, engaging with them on their own level. People love talking about themselves, and clients are people too.

In addition, skimming over the company newsletter provides the opportunity to be helpful in a minute but meaningful way. Did you find a spelling error? Drop a line to your client. Do some of the product details not add up? Point it out. Let them express their thanks in the form of long-term contracts.

When its okay to employ reactive project management strategies?

Even the best reactive project managers have their fair share of unforeseeable circumstances. Life happens, you know. 

There will be times when you may experience such unforeseeable circumstances that necessitate the employment of reactive project management strategies. This doesn’t make you any less of a proactive project manager. So give yourself grace and respond to the issues when they arise. 

Wrapping it up

You determine your fate with any given client through your project management strategies. 

Are you reactive, putting out fires as you go along, or are you creating stable and confidence-giving relationships with your clients that will benefit them (and you) with more than just a checkbox? 

If you’re more inclined to be a firefighter, it may be time to rethink your strategy.

Now go and watch the webinar for all the inside scoop! And if you have any questions, from project management to sandwich management, get in touch with Marcus at Perfect Evolution.

If you want more details or to hear the whole story, check out Marcus’ webinar, originally hosted on November 23, 2021.
And if you want to get to know Marcus better, he is a member of our Digital  Agency Owners Facebook group. Come and meet us all over there!


Jennifer Alimasunya

Jennifer Alimasunya

Jennifer is a dedicated copywriter for GoWP, a company that provides exceptional outsourced Wordpress services to help agencies grow. She lives in Lagos, Nigeria. In her spare time, she writes and records music.

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  • 90 days of off-site backups
  • Daily security scans and malware cleanup
  • Maintenance dashboard
  • Find out more here