If you’re a marketer, then at some point, you’ll need to manage a project. This can be an intimidating prospect if you’ve never taken the lead on a project before. However, developing basic project management skills can be invaluable no matter where you’re at in your career.
This is true whether you’re a Manager guiding your team, a middle-Manager taking your first steps toward leading campaigns, or an entry-level staffer looking for a way to move up. You don’t necessarily need to become an expert in this area. You simply need to know enough to ensure your team’s work gets done efficiently and on time. Here are some ways to help you achieve this goal.
Why Should Marketers Play Project Manager?
Project management is a complex discipline that can take a career to master. It has its own training programs, certifications, and professional associations. So, the argument here isn’t that you need to dive deep and master everything there is to know. Fortunately, though, you just need to know enough to competently lead a project. Here are some quick benefits:
- You’ll be able to keep your team and projects better organized.
- That will help prevent the sense of low-level chaos that can permeate busy departments.
- More work will get completed on time with a higher rate of success.
Better yet, getting started can be as easy as following this basic framework.
A Simple 5-Step Process for Planning, Managing, and Executing Marketing Projects
The best way to avoid getting overwhelmed is to break down your processes into smaller steps and take them on one at a time.
Launch Every Project With a Creative Brief
Your project should start with a plan, and that plan should start with a creative brief. It’s likely you’ve followed a brief to execute a project at some point in your career. But, if you’ve never written one (or instructed someone to write one), then how can you make sure no important details are missed?
Create a document (or find a template) and include the following items:
You can include more relevant details as you deem necessary, but this list will cover the essentials. Once you have these pieces in place, your team can work to develop a more specific plan that will meet the given requirements.
Schedule a Team Meeting to Review the Brief
Rather than handing the brief to your team and wishing them the best of luck, schedule a meeting to go over it with everyone who will need to be involved. This helps address any potential pitfalls or concerns upfront and ensures that everyone has their voice heard.
Present the brief, then discuss the following three things amongst the team:
- Which specific tasks each team member will need to complete in order to finish the project.
- You should also determine the order those tasks should be completed in.
- How long each task will take to complete.
Assign Tasks and Deadlines Team-Wide
You now have a list of tasks, and you know who is responsible for each one. The next step is to assign a deadline to each of those tasks and plot them out on a timeline or calendar. Since you gathered this data with your team in the previous step, this will be much easier than simply taking a guess and assigning the work.
Let’s say you have the following information from your team on their tasks and how long they think each will take (these are hypothetical figures for a generic project):
- Team Member 1: Research, 6 hours
- Team Member 2: Writing, 8 hours
- Team Member 3: Design, 4 hours
- Team Member 4: Editing, 2 hours
In total, this equals about 2.5 business days worth of work. Now, since the team will likely have other projects they might be working on concurrently, or will understandably have other things come up that might take them off task, it’s advisable to add a small amount of buffer time to each task. Accurately estimating how long a single task or entire project will take can be challenging at first, but this video offers a quick look at how to do it effectively:
After you’ve added some buffer, here’s what the revised timeline might look like:
- Team Member 1: Research, 8 hours
- Team Member 2: Writing, 10 hours
- Team Member 3: Design, 6 hours
- Team Member 4: Editing, 4 hours
By adding two hours to each task, each team member has all the time they need, plus a little bit of breathing room. This also brings up the total time to around 3 full business days, which isn’t too much longer than expected, but enough to keep the team from feeling stressed. Planning ahead and adjusting for the realities of an imperfect world (where things come up and requests from other teams occasionally need our attention) will help set realistic expectations.
Plan Your Tools in a Tool or on a Calendar
Choose a tool that allows the following:
- An ability to assign tasks to each team member.
- Setting up notifications when tasks are due.
- Inputting task approval steps.
- A way to visualize tasks (on a calendar, Kanban board, etc.).
There are many such tools on the market, and it’s likely your team is already using one. Implement whichever one you have, or search for a solution that will work with your Marketing team.
Meet Every Morning to Discuss Team Progress
Marketers implementing agile processes will be familiar with daily standups.
These are brief daily meetings to discuss:
- What the team did yesterday.
- What the team will do today.
- What’s blocking the team from making progress (if anything).
That’s it. Keep them quick (15 minutes or less) and stay on task. If something needs to be discussed in further detail, table it for immediately after the meeting. For teams that aren’t used to communicating this closely each day, these meetings can be remarkably transformative.
You’re Ready to Roll
This isn’t everything there is to know about Marketing project management. But it’s enough for you to know right now to get started with it. Best of luck and here’s to your future success.