The Producer as the Project Manager

Recently I was outlining the role of a Online Producer it was asked of me:

"Isn't that just what a Project Manager does?"
It's a common misconception thrown around frequently, that is the idea that a producer is just another name for a Project Manager. So the question begs, why bother with producers?

From my experience, the producer and the Project Manager roles are, in some aspects, not too dissimilar. Though one thing seems to constantly present itself in defining the differences between the two skill sets is the creative aspect of a producer.

In a great post on his Digital River Guides blog, Bryan Daniels sums this concept up nicely;
"...a Digital Producer may cross over into doing project management work but seldom, if ever, does a Project Manager cross over into driving and influencing strategic and creative work".
The point of difference that Daniels is making, and backed up by Tony Zeoli's post to the Web Producers list, revolves around the producer as a strategic creative thinker, a link between creative, technical and the client while the Project Manager focuses on things such as timelines, budgets and resource allocation.

To help visualise this difference a better, I have taken direction from Sarah Lantry's post on and further defined some explicit skills and tasks between the two jobs and the roles they play.

The Project Manager
Often tertiary educated in Logistics or Project Management with qualifications in various Project Management methodologies. Project Managers are fanatical organisers, look at a project as a whole including impacts outside of the digital sphere with an awareness of risk management, project progress and commercial requirements.

The Online Producer
Often tertiary educated, although in a varying range of areas, the producers primary focus is the digital landscape. Producers mostly come from creative or technical backgrounds with strong functional understanding of the development process. Producers help define a clients vision and develop a digital strategy. In many cases the producer is the common thread between development stages of project.

Who does what and when?

The scope of a project will often determine what role the producer and  the Project Manager will play in a project. For larger scale projects where there are impacts with systems or departments outside of the digital space, the producer may play second fiddle to the Project Manager, often acting as the online Subject Matter Expert (SME) for the project while co-ordinating the digital aspects for the Project Manager.

In smaller projects the producer may take on the end-to-end management of the project, taking on many project management tasks including budgeting, resource allocation, dealing with stakeholders an managing the production work flow.

So who you gonna call?

While the above scenarios and tasks are not hard and fast rules, hopefully they help to provide some insight into how the role of the producer fits into a project and the production cycle. And hopefully they will help you understand when best to call on a producers particular set of skills.


Vhinz January 22, 2014 at 9:44 AM  

An integrated system combines all of the functions of typical project
management and the usual daily functions of a company. This means that
team members can actually individualize tasks and make personal
"projects" for themselves.

what is contract management

Olivia Jennifer July 7, 2014 at 10:32 PM  

Wonderful article. But recently if you are
looking for a new project management job or if you might have asked for a
promotion within your company then you might have heard about PMP credentials!!.
It is true that a Project
Management Professional (PMP)

credential is one of the most sought certifications by employers and employees
alike. For its detail information about a PMP certifications you can go through

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The Author

Simon Mainwaring is a passionate and innovative web professional with a broad background in web production and site management. For the past two years his focus has been as a Web Producer driving complex collaborative projects in the Telecommunications space. Alongside his professional interest in all things web, Simon is also studying for a degree in Internet Communication, with a focus on how the internet has changed communication and interaction within society.