“I say ‘traffic,’ you say ‘production’.”

While traffic managers and production managers are often found within the same department, and their roles frequently combined, they each have very different functions within an agency.

The traffic manager is responsible for scheduling and moving work along a Critical Path while the is assigned tasks along said Path – estimating, buying and managing outside services, for example.

According to Tony Mikes, president of Second Wind Network, “The production manager is responsible for pricing all services the agency delivers, working with the various agency departments – creative, account service, public relations, media, interactive – in calculating in-house charges and requesting estimates from outside vendors.” Once gathered, the production manager compiles costs into an estimate. The estimate is then routed through the traffic manager and given to the account executive for client approval.

The traffic manager, on a daily basis, compiles a master workload schedule and talks with each employee, ensuring deadlines are met. This includes the production manager who confirms estimate, shipping and delivery dates.

The primary role of the production manager is to obtain the best possible prices from outside vendors. This requires building (and maintaining) strong business relationships and exploring unique opportunities. The traffic manager is strictly an inward-facing employee who works closely with all departments.

Now that you’ve a better feel for the separate roles of traffic and production, you can see why combining the two may not be the best option. Mikes states it best, “If the production manager is busy for most of the day, scheduling work and resolving conflicts, how can they honestly get the best possible price and delivery for the agency? If a traffic manager is not able to keep up with scheduling changes and new orders because they’re proofreading, estimating and expediting, the timelines and accuracy of the agency’s work will suffer.”

Being a small- to medium-size agency, you may not have the financial resources to divide the roles of traffic and production. You’re not alone. As your agency continues to grow, pay attention to the quality of work being produced by your traffic-production manager. If the increased work volume is impacting it, it may be time to consider a role division.

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