Marketing Project Management Basics

Project Management is a fairly new business discipline that’s gaining traction in more industries and companies every day.  Because of its left brain origins, project management is not a natural fit for marketing departments.  The reality is that project management can revolutionize the role of creative teams within an organization.

The good news is that project management can be introduced in phases.  Start with the basics of time management, collaboration, documentation and communication.

1. Have the team document their time.  Although often construed as micromanaging this is actually a powerful time management technique.  It’s an eye-opening exercise when employees can see where their time is being spent.  This also lays the foundation for you to start documenting time allocations for future tasks and projects.

A couple of key concepts to follow; 1) provide a simple tool for time tracking — there are a number of web-based products, and 2) alleviate stress and avoid inaccurate data by following current research and setting the expectation of five hours of actual project time each day.

2. Encourage collaboration.  Break the cycle of employees putting on headphones and disappearing into a document or design for days on end.  What’s clear in the mind of one person may be confusing to others and a grammatically correct sentence may lack the flow needed to be easily read and understood.

Through formal or informal collaboration among team members, these issues are brought to light early in the process.  This eliminates resistance to making changes after many hours of personal investment in a piece and avoids costly delays late in the process.  Bottom line, collaboration improves job satisfaction through the open exchange of ideas.

3. Create project documentation.  Do you have conversations in passing only to come under attack days later because the other person constituted that as a project request?  Do you frequently run over schedule because of project creep through ever-changing requirements?

It’s vital that you establish a formal project submission process and create a scope document before work begins.  You can view a simple project submission form in my blog post, “Creating a Simple Project Request Template”.

The key to a scope document is to provide as much detail as possible.  This ensures everyone involved is clear on their role in the project and outlines exactly what Marketing will deliver upon completion.  The scope document should be read and signed by someone as high up the org chart as possible.  The project criteria can be changed during production but requires review and amendment of the scope document.

4. Provide consistent communication.  Once a project is started, meet weekly or bi-weekly with key stakeholders and team members to communicate progress and resolve issues.  The “big idea” people in your company will resist these meetings because they don’t like to be bothered by details.  The reality is that these meetings are absolutely critical to keeping projects on schedule.

This is a deal breaker.  If a client – internal or external – refuses to maintain these progress updates, you need to walk away from the project because you’re being set up to fail.

Even at its basic level project management can seem overwhelming and intimidating, that’s because you’re changing the culture of the entire organization.  I promise you the effort will pay dividends.

Marketing needs to be a driving force in the success and growth of any company.  Without the proper documentation and structure, however, marketing becomes an easy target when revenue stagnates or declines.  Project management protects your interests and ensures informed decision making at all levels of the organization.


Justin Phipps
President at Phippstastic Consulting