As a senior campaign manager, I need to keep my finger on the pulse of several projects at once. Based on the very nature of the work we do as marketers, multiple project phases and cross-functional dependencies are the norm. So, digging through my inbox and scheduling a meeting every time I need a status update just aren’t the most efficient use of my time — or anyone else’s.
Thankfully, long gone are the days when you could only get a status update on an ongoing project during a meeting, on a phone call, or via email. In addition to the tools we use here to communicate internally, such as Glip and RingCentral, we also rely heavily on Smartsheet, a cloud-based project management tool designed to improve communication and visibility both internally and outside of the organization.
If you’re not familiar with Smartsheet specifically, or some of the more robust project management tools in general, below is a quick summary of some of the standard capabilities they provide:
Workflow and content management capabilities
- Setup standard, repeatable project workflows (e.g., content development, client review, QA, testing, and reporting)
- Tag individual or multiple stakeholders for different tasks
- Schedule automatic client notifications (e.g., when client review or approval is needed)
- Create and customize internal and client project submission forms, so you can keep track of any details important or unique to a specific project
- Attach documents and add notes
Reporting and visibility dashboards
- View audience segments, verticals, and regions for campaign sends at a glance for tracking and campaign building purposes
- Build a reporting dashboard to show things like number of campaign requests, project duration, missed deadlines, and where your budget stands
- Integrate with some of your other systems, such as payroll, Salesforce, Box, and Dropbox, for increased accessibility and deeper insight into your project metrics
- Take advantage of add-ons not available in Google Docs that will make managing/reporting on your projects much easier
We use Smartsheet to manage projects across all areas of the organization — not just the marketing team. Of course, if one of our clients is already using an existing project management tool, we’re more than happy to work within it. After all, we’re here to make our clients’ lives easier, not more difficult!
The point is, if you’re not currently using a project management tool in-house, I highly recommend it. I’ve seen what a difference using a project management tool can make, even a free one such as Google Docs, instead of relying on meetings, phone calls, and emails to move a project forward.
Yes, there is a small ramp-up period as you familiarize yourself with a new tool. Because they’re cloud-based, though, ramp-up time is minimal and the tools are relatively cost-efficient. Not to mention, there are proven, long-term benefits of using a project management tool:
- 90% of companies agree that open-source project management software increased efficiency, interoperability, and innovation
- 77% of successful projects use a project management tool
- Half of organizations without access to real-time KPIs say that they spend one or more days to manually gather data and compile project reports
If you’re faced with an exceptionally tight budget, though, get your feet wet with a free tool like Google Docs so you can view progress updates in real time, keep all project files in one place, and gain some insights into your data. Or, if your budget allows it, you can dive into an even more robust project management tool, such as Jira, Asana, or Workday, depending on your requirements.
Many hands make light work (as long as the right hand knows what the left hand is doing)
Rare are the projects that a single marketer owns 100 percent from start to finish. In today’s world of mostly remote work, it’s even more critical to take advantage of a centralized tool to keep your projects running full steam ahead.
Ready to dig into more project management best practices? Learn about three common downfalls to avoid and the benefits of having a dedicated project manager. Or, let us know how we can help you manage your next big project!
Tina Hancock is a Senior Manager, Demand Gen Group at BDO Digital. As part of the Campaign Execution Services Team, she helps support client goals by quantifying objectives and developing supporting strategies that help ensure flawless client campaign execution and aim to turn our clients into marketing heroes.