A great campaign doesn’t start with flashy graphics, persuasive text, or cutting-edge video presentations. It starts with a plan.
Delivering immersive experiences for your customers is a tall order, especially as creative teams grow and more team members are remote or external stakeholders. To ensure top-notch creative campaigns are delivered on time and under budget, brand managers turn to work management software. The work management process helps coordinate work across your team and drive results.
This article covers the basics of developing a work management approach:
- What is work management?
- How does work management differ from project management?
- How do marketers use work management?
- What is the work management process?
- How does technology empower work management?
What is work management?
Work management uses software tools and techniques to bring a project or campaign from the execution phase through to completion. Using work management methods, a project manager—or in the case of marketing, a brand manager—manages the performance of teams, time, activities, and resources to yield a successful project result. Success is most often measured in on-time completion, within budget and scope.
Work management practices ensure high team productivity and resource optimization. This improves the on-time delivery of project milestones. Close attention to project performance also allows project managers to adjust the plan depending on challenges or delays.
The launch of a new brand campaign provides an excellent example of work management in action. Once the scope and outcomes of the project are set, a brand manager must sustain many moving parts to prepare for the campaign launch:
- Identifying and outlining assets and other deliverables to be created
- Scheduling roles to conduct portions of the work over the project duration
- Setting team standups and discussion times to enhance collaboration
- Outlining and securing resources (think office space, computers, studio time, graphic design work, on-location services for video, equipment for production, and tools for digital creation and collaboration as needed)
- Reporting on project progress to necessary stakeholders throughout the project
- Navigating setbacks or delays to minimize the impact on delivery
Each of these activities must be monitored and supported through solid work management, creating visibility and momentum to create and launch the campaign on time, within scope, and under budget.
Work management vs. project management
Work management is often used synonymously with project management. While they share many characteristics, they’re slightly different. Work management focuses on supporting the activities and resources that lead to success. Project management serves broader project needs. It may involve other project areas such as budgeting, file maintenance, and materials sourcing.
Marketing work management
Marketing work management follows many of the same principles as general work management, as applied to the direction of creative teams. Work management for a brand manager role helps teams collaborate, create content faster, and deliver customer experiences that are both compelling and compliant with brand guidelines.
This approach to marketing management relies on a tech stack that organizes assets and projects, outlines requirements, and allows teams to distribute completed content.
Work management process
The process of administering a large-scale project or campaign relies on successfully managing four key elements of every project: time, teams, tasks, and resources.
Time: The first and highest priority resource involved in production. Time management is the foundation for every other activity your team performs. Time management involves scheduling daily tasks within a larger project and monitoring project completion to ensure the team meets milestones.
Teams: Work management supports the creative professionals who deliver content and customer experiences. It ensures that tasks are assigned to the correct stakeholders with the proper skills to create the content deliverables. Brand managers must balance specific skills with careful capacity planning to ensure creators aren’t over-scheduled in delivering content.
Tasks: These are the daily activities that build the larger campaign. In marketing, this may include tasks like graphic design, content or marketing copy development, videography, editing, as well as social and media management.
Resources: The tangible and intangible assets needed to complete the work. This may include materials, equipment, staff with specific skills, or outside consultants. Managing resources effectively is foundational for keeping the rest of the project on track and within budget.
Steps to effective work management
A solid work management workflow structure follows a predictable path for each stage of development to be built, the stakeholders involved in production, the methods of communication and asset delivery, and the channels for which the work is being produced.
Follow this repeatable process to bring more clarity to your work plan, streamline production, achieve your project roadmaps on time, and create a continuous improvement system for current and future projects.
1. Identify the work
Outline the work to be done in this project, milestone, or sprint. Define how the work will be completed, by whom, and what methods will be used to accomplish the defined tasks. Create task lists and follow-up structures for tasks. Create a detailed outline that notes task dependencies, contingency plans, and resource redundancy where needed.
2. Schedule the work
Schedule out each task or activity for the upcoming work period (be it a milestone, sprint, or sub-project of the larger campaign). Outline skills allocation and deadlines to the appropriate stakeholders. Include check-ins at designated times to communicate work progress and discuss blocking issues. For some teams (such as those practicing agile marketing methodology) a daily stand-up provides the time and opportunity for communication on project objectives.
3. Document findings
Document the work management process as the sprint or project progresses. Take note of challenges, opportunities, or learnings. Synthesize these into future project management to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of your projects.
Team standups and retrospectives offer opportunities to capture information from different perspectives. Recording the results of these sessions creates a durable record of project performance and a basis for future improvements in the work management process.
4. Analyze and refine
Analyze the outcomes of completed projects or sprints to learn more about the work development process. A retrospective on projects provides an opportunity to discuss what worked, what needs improvement, and how the proposed project parameters and timeline translate to actual production.
Creating strong workflows to govern the above process builds efficiency and allows you to react to changes without jeopardizing the quality of work or the delivery timeline.
How work management software helps marketers
Modern marketing campaigns rely on input from various internal and external stakeholders. These teams require cohesive direction, full access to assets, and robust communication tools to create value. You will often depend on remote teams to deliver these results. Software solutions enable teammates to deliver better results from anywhere.
Apps and work management tools are available to automate many business processes:
- Marketing project management software to give brand managers and teams visibility of the overall process
- Resource management tools, such as digital asset management (DAM) software for managing and delivering digital content
- Kanban boards and Gantt charts for task management (tracking on deck, in progress, and completed work in real-time)
- Team management tools such as communication platforms, team collaboration tools, virtual workspace tools for assets in production, and dashboards to show progress and performance throughout the project
How to select a marketing work management solution
The statistics supporting project management programs for marketers are staggering. Marketing teams that use some form of project management platform are over 400% more likely to report success. But 62% of respondents say they don’t use any project management tool to manage their brand and campaign execution. If you’re in that camp, the time is right to upgrade your tech stack and take advantage of the benefits in communication, execution, and delivery of high-quality campaigns.
When looking at options for tools to improve your marketing project management, remember these important criteria:
Dynamic planning: The right planning tool will offer flexibility and plenty of options for scheduling, tracking, and reporting on the production process. Look for a solution with strong features for scenario planning and easy modification when things change.
Strong integrations: A project management tool doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Choose a tool that offers integrations with the full ecosystem of tools your team needs, including your DAM, CMS, CMP, ERP, and performance management tools.
Communications-focused: Keeping your team members in touch is the best way to ensure everyone is pulling in the same direction. Find a tool that allows seamless communication on critical tasks.
Choosing a powerful and flexible tool enables teams to use project management in the best way. It also promotes visibility within teams and preserves vital data about the project to use in future campaigns. Implementing a strong, dynamic DAM as part of this tech stack will further enhance your team experience and results.
Today’s marketing teams need to orchestrate content, people, and budgets to drive customer experiences. All of that at once can be a tall order, especially if you’re working with a smaller team. Either way, in this rapidly changing landscape, marketing resource management is ideally positioned to accelerate brands to the forefront.
When tightly integrated, the intersection of content, people, budget and performance, MRM can accelerate time to market, tear down organizational silos, improve strategic decision-making, and empower the workforce to scale digital transformation successfully.
The net? MRM has never been more relevant than it is today.
See why Aprimo is the only Leader in the Forrester Wave for Marketing Resource Management and start your MRM journey by taking an interactive tour.