Coming to Manchester on the 9th of September 2016 is the first Manchester Code event which is being run and organised by the award winning, Digital Project Manager, Craig A. Taylor. What is The Manchester Code? And how will it benefit us all? We sat down with Craig, to find out what it is and how this may be an industry changer!
What made you create The Manchester Code and what industry issues need addressing?
First of all, The Manchester Code is a new, unique, structured and documented 'Code of Practice' to allow agencies and clients in general business to achieve greatness in digital creative work, and for those working in the sector to be able to continue to develop and invest profitably....
We have a problem. The digital creative sector can't really invest in people, processes and products until business in general truly values what we do and is prepared to pay for digital work at a level that allows the sector to drive profitability. This isn't going to happen until we reduce the number of failed projects. The single biggest cause of failure is communication; digital creative suppliers often aren't communicating and operating in a way that general business understands. As such, many projects fail to deliver what general business expects and businesses just don't trust and value digital highly enough.
This reduces the fees for digital, which further drives down investment, training and salaries and guess what? The quality suffers, business in general gets an even poorer experience and then, we go around again.
We need to sell ourselves as a professional services industry. We need to work in a way that business in general understands and values and communicate this.
The Manchester Code will communicate this and act as an independent yardstick for quality and efficiency in all digital projects by providing frameworks, training and guidelines for industry professionals and importantly for general businesses engaged in digital projects.
Tell us about your background?
Originally, I am from an engineering background, however, I retrained in London, completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Printing and Publishing in 1997, however I quickly realised digital was the way forward so learned to code my first website, in HTML3 on Notepad on IE3 on Windows NT, in 1998. Great times. I continued to work as a trainer in HTML, CSS and Dreamweaver before deciding to start my own successful digital agency in 2000, later selling it on in 2010.
Since the sale of my business, I have kept myself busy working as a freelance Digital Project Manager, which allowed me to work with a variety of enterprise CMS and Ecommerce solutions including SDL Tridion, Sitecore, Umbraco, Magento and SAP employing a mixture of Agile, PRINCEII and Waterfall methodologies. Throughout my career, I've gone on to win a number of awards, most notably the 'How-Do Award' for Best Media Website in 2011. Currently, I am now working with various agencies and businesses in order to deliver hands-on training with regards to project management, workflow, strategy and planning as well as the technical skills such as HTML, CSS, video production and social media through a network of experienced trainers.
I have always approached work from a business objectives and UX, rather than technology perspective and this is very much the driver for The Manchester Code.
Being in the industry and by creating The Manchester Code, what skills do you find most candidates are lacking in and what areas should they focus on?
I would have to say that the biggest issue we are facing with regards to skill gaps in the industry is experience! Nowadays there is an abundant amount of talented coders graduating, ready to start their careers within major agencies. However, businesses value a mixture of experience and general business awareness… unfortunately, we can't teach that experience.
Many Project and Account Managers have little or no industrial experience and as such they struggle to deal with businesses in a way in which they understand. My advice to any students would be to gain as much commercial and general business experience as possible, undertake internship and placements as this will stand well for your future and you'll prove to be a valuable asset to any company!
How can The Manchester Code assist growing businesses in the North and has the skill gap had any impact on the current digital growth?
I definitely think that this issue would have had an impact on every area of the UK, not just the North. Although, the salaries in London are arguably higher so they do attract candidates to working in the South.
In my opinion, I see The Manchester Code as an opportunity for businesses in the North to wrestle some of the momentum from London in an attempt to drive the profitability of agencies up here!
What audience is The Manchester Code aiming to target?
The Manchester Code event is targeting agencies which are engaged in digital creative work and general businesses working with agencies whilst also supporting organisations who are involved in providing digital services. It also presents an opportunity for those employed in the digital sector to voice their concerns and frustrations in the hope of these issues being resolved.
How can The Manchester Code be a solution to the industry issue you're addressing?
For me, The Manchester Code is about communicating to the wider business community how the digital creative sector works, allowing businesses to engage with us in a more mutually beneficial way. Hopefully, The Manchester Code should help reduce the number of projects that fail by increasing the understanding on both sides of the spectrum along with raising the value of what work we do.
What impact would you like The Manchester Code to have on the sector in the long term?
The long term goal is to establish The Manchester Code as a source of information on the best practices that a business or agency can adopt. It will become a 'safe haven'; a place where businesses and agencies can turn to for advice when projects become challenging! We will be known as the body which promotes digital to the business community as well as provides training and support to those within the sector.
Do you want to find out more about The Manchester Code? Get your ticket from Eventbrite and head down to Rise in Manchester City Centre, which is famous for bringing together the industry's brightest professionals,on Friday 9th September. Follow the process of The Manchester Code through their Twitter page here!