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Project Management Tools Critical for Marketing Teams’ Success

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Study Identifies What Marketing Teams Want (And Don’t Care About) When It Comes to Productivity

Whether they’re part of a small team wearing multiple hats or a large, distributed department serving the needs of a Fortune 500 brand,  marketers are increasingly relying on project management (PM) solutions to help them deliver more work faster. But what do these marketers value most when it’s time to invest in a new tool? A research study conducted by MetaCommunications in partnership with Drive Research under the direction of Thomas Gruca, Henry B. Tippie Research Professor of Marketing at the University of Iowa, assessed those preferences and needs regarding marketing project management software.

Some 400 in-house marketers and creatives reported their use of digital tools to create and manage their work. The research assessed the features and functionalities that teams prioritize in order to deliver a wide variety of marketing initiatives and drive project results. Every marketer surveyed reported using a project management tool on daily, weekly or monthly basis.

The study answers some key questions:

  • Which roles use work management tools the most? Jack-of-all-trades marketing managers are the power users, outpacing project coordinators or project managers.
  • What activities do marketing teams rely on these tools to execute?  High-volume, real-time activities are tops. Digital marketing and social media dominate, while few teams mix project management and account management.
  • What features do teams value most and least in potential project management tools?  Regardless of team size, everyone is looking for clear workflows and organized project details. When it comes to keeping tabs on employee productivity, marketing leaders are decidedly uninterested in playing Big Brother. The focus was on overall team outputs so the ability to measure individual performance and tracking staff times were the least in-demand.

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“The study results not only outline needs for productivity and workflow management solutions for marketing teams,” says David Lenzen, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for MetaCommunications, “but the information has value for marketing teams that are selecting platforms for their own organization or those looking to upgrade a current system. Often the decision is made by a person in a leadership role that may value one functionality over others.”

While both small and large marketing teams rely on project management tools to manage their workload, the impetus for turning to technology to get a grip on their workflows differs by team size.

“Bigger teams need collaboration tools because the work is spread out among more people. Smaller teams have different needs because often team members are juggling more than one role. Having project management that is intuitive rather than cumbersome is important,” says Gruca.

“Big or small, teams are definitely challenged by the number of often separate tools required to get the best result. Frustration comes when managing the work gets in the way of actually doing the work,” he adds.

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Lenzen says marketing team members appreciate having access to tools that complement each other, allowing them to contribute more effectively, efficiently and, ultimately, creatively. This is particularly the case when dealing with marketing teams with more than ten people. As marketing teams become larger, clear procedures and effective collaboration become more important. In contrast, the ability to measure individual and financial performance becomes less important.

“There is a priority gap between marketing team leaders and team members as well. We found that senior marketing leaders placed more importance on being able to measure return on marketing activities and creating more time for creative work than more junior team members who were more focused on making their workdays more organized and productive” says Lenzen.

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