In today’s results-driven marketing environment, senior marketers walk a fine line balancing business strategy, productivity and ROI with creativity and innovation. Marketers are the ones responsible for bringing together the passion and vision of the creative team with the sales focus and accountability of senior management.
In order to balance the competing demands inherent in such a role, a disciplined, systematic process combined with clear and frequent communication are critical to ensuring the tangible delivery of innovative and creative ideas.
Strong and systematic project management can deliver efficiencies via shorter lead times, shorter project timelines, and the ability to execute more comprehensive campaigns across a wider range of pre-planned channels. In short - stronger campaigns with more tangible results for your organisation.
But what are the success factors required for effective project management?
- Setting a project objective – what are we ultimately trying to achieve? Why are we doing this? What benefit will we realise?
- Determining the project sponsor – who is the ultimate owner of the project? This will be a senior team member with stature and who can communicate the importance of the project. This person will be visible throughout the project, reinforcing its importance and rationale. Having a senior sponsor is particularly important if the project is major, such as a brand launch or rebrand.
- Allocating a project budget – with all major projects, a contingency should also be budgeted for to allow for unforeseen circumstances.
- Appointing a project manager and creating a project team or working group – whose responsibility is it ultimately to ensure the project plan is adhered to and the project stays on track? And which teams within your business will require representation to ensure that all affected areas have a voice in relation to the project execution?
- Identifying additional resources required – determining if any additional resources will be required to enable the project objectives and project plan to be met. Do you need to hire contractors or outsource any of the work?
- Scheduling regular project team meetings – to review the status of the project, understand any roadblocks and adjust process or timings if necessary.
- Ensuring stakeholders are engaged - this is critical prior to kicking off the project in order to gain understanding and buy-in from all key stakeholders, so they will support the project throughout its journey – and so you can identify any potential issues up front and address them. If the project is major, consider meetings, off-sites or workshops to engage stakeholders and get their feedback.
- Creating a project plan – this should include an ordered list of all project steps, timings, dependencies and responsibilities, along with key project milestone. For larger projects it’s worth considering project management software such as Microsoft Project, as, unlike Excel, if you make changes it will update all other tasks automatically, saving time and reducing errors.
- Communicating frequently and clearly – frequent communication to stakeholders, updating them on the project status and progress will be appreciated and will also help to set expectations and demonstrate the professionalism of your marketing team.
- Evaluating and reporting results – after your project is completed, spend the time to evaluate and document the results. Also evaluate your project execution process. What worked? What didn’t? Were there any surprises? Ensure any learnings are captured so processes can be adjusted and improved for the next project.
- Celebrating your success – acknowledging the efforts of the team, and recognising the efforts of external stakeholders, will help you strengthen partnerships for executing future projects.
Implementing processes such as these and training your team to understand the significance of effective project management will lead to a higher probability of success for your marketing initiatives, and bring discipline and accountability to your marketing team.