“Do you have your pilot license?”

“The ‘helicopter quality:’ The ability to look at facts and problems from an overall viewpoint.”

— David Ogilvy, founder, Ogilvy & Mather

I love this definition. I think it describes the role of the Traffic Manager to a tee.

A project enters an agency and a Job Number is assigned. Ideally, a Workback Schedule Template of some form is applied, laying out all Tasks required for the project’s completion; see Critical Path.

While it’s important for a Manager to be familiar with each step along a project’s path, it’s key for him/her to have an overall understanding of the job’s impact on the entire agency workload. For example, the brochure project on my desk will involve the time of three or four different employees. I’ll also need a quote from the printer and I have an immovable delivery date. I know there will be several rounds of revisions and I’m going to need a photographer to shoot several photos.

The photographer I’d like to use for this project — the only one we have on staff — also has commitments to two other client projects in the coming week. Not only that, but he’s working on a re-branding project for our own agency. Knowing the “big picture” for this particular employee directly impacts the timeline of the brochure in question. If I were to simply focus on steps 1-2-3 of the brochure, I’d find myself two weeks into the project and right in the middle of a workflow bottleneck. To effectively manage this project, and the others that are in-house, I have to rely on my overall knowledge.

Do you have YOUR pilot license?

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