Traditionally, marketing experts are not strong project managers. They are creative geniuses who produce their best ideas by themselves or in small collaborative teams. Many marketers continue to think of project management as a science best suited to software development or to product assembly, or at most as a tool to meet web development needs.
They are wrong.
Imagine the benefits organizations would gain if their marketing people were able to think and behave like traditional project managers. Metrics would soar. Timelines would shorten. Competitive advantages would increase as teams deliver newer and stronger campaigns and marketing initiatives with greater efficiency and ease. In all, companies could create more deliverables from their current marketing teams without the need to make additional hires.
What are the elements of effective project management that marketers should learn to adopt? In a nutshell, they include
- Project planning
- Document and task management
- Organized document storage
- Project cost tracking
- Return on investment analysis
- Independent and collective task management
And they tend to include specialized technology tools. Sophisticated project management reduces overhead and facilitates optimal resource management by tracking real-time capacity and utilization, according to leading software platform providers such as Basecamp and collaboration tools such as Slack, along with comprehensive project management suites such as InLoox and AtTask.
For example, imagine the benefits of a project management system that allows clients (internal or external) to see work in progress at significant milepost increments from directly within the system the internal marketing participants use.
No more issues with email correlation (whose feedback supersedes whose?) or with the nightmare of finding out too late a large transmittal to a client was never received.
Especially beneficial for marketers are the cloud-based project management programs that integrate with fundamental resources such as Microsoft Outlook to notify participants of important milestones, and to allow the entire marketing team to have visibility into projects from wherever they are (especially valuable for multinational teams where major time zone differences can come into play). Cloud based project management (at least in some cases) allows members to stay up to date via their mobile devices as well.
Project management is good for managing freelance contracting help.
For marketers, project management is also helpful in alleviating the lack of organization and communication that is the bane of many marketing departments. Marketing professionals who are great at their core specialties may be highly challenged by the requirement to coalesce as a team towards the completion of a common project or achievement of an overall goal. Strong project management is one of the ways to instill these strengths in the creative marketing people you hire. (For more on this topic, columnist John Boitnott discusses the particular challenges new marketers face as they start a career path that appears to lack concrete deliverables in his Inc. Magazine column 9 Ways To Bring Deliverables to Your Marketing Strategy,)
Which software option will work best for your organization? There are multiple options, and the best alternative for your company may depend on the size of your team and the nature of the projects you lead. Take time to evaluate your alternatives carefully before signing on the dotted line or moving your production level projects online.
Says Dr. Andreas Tremel, CEO and co-founder of InLoox, “Our InLoox PM product organizes your file or SharePoint Server and integrates with Microsoft Office, with the cloud and with a variety of mobile apps. The Microsoft Office integration makes project management easier for marketing professional by allowing them to save e-mails, Microsoft Office documents and other files in the corresponding project folders directly through Outlook. And by enabling auto notification, marketers can be informed of all changes to their documents.” (For more about InLoox, visit www.InLoox.com.)
Project Management firm AtTask provides a program module that is actually specific to marketing projects. AtTask Marketing Work Management is designed specifically around the needs of in-house creative teams, and works to ease the transition through an interface that works to emulate the ways that marketing professionals work. For a demo of this alternative, visit www.attask.com/marketing/)
The Basecamp program is a canonical and long established project management alternative that enjoys high familiarity for many marketers due to its ability to support simple projects, particularly in cases where notification to a significant number of participating users is involved. For example, several of our agency’s current clients track and monitor our public relations work together via Basecamp. It is a fairly straightforward and easy product to use, however it lacks the project planning and roadmap integration functions that more sophisticated PM alternatives such as InLoox and AtTask can provide. (For more information visit www.basecamphq.com).
For a comprehensive look at Project Management alternatives for marketers, here’s a current set of 2014 reviews. Regardless of the alternative you choose, be sure to conduct ample tests and comparisons to find the option that is most conducive to your own marketing team. Additionally, remember that the process of testing PM alternatives provides a double benefit: the opportunity to guide your creative professionals to think and operate like project management pros. What’s not to love about that?
Cheryl Conner, Contributor
I write about communications, business and the ways the two intersect
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