The marketing world is not for the faint of heart. Marketing directors are juggling dozens of projects, deadlines, and priorities, and teams are working overtime. Execs want to know where everything stands and whether campaigns are on track to meet launch dates. Tight deadlines and tighter budgets mean stretching every minute and every penny further than ever.
Trying to track all of this via email and spreadsheets is messy and inefficient. And while a work management tool means better communication, organization, and efficiency, it also means taking the time to research and implement the best one for your needs. And even if you do, your team has to actually use it in order to reap the benefits. This can be especially challenging at large companies where departmental workflows are entrenched in legacy systems and spreadsheets.
Your team barely has time to take a lunch break. You certainly don’t have the luxury of trying out a new tool only for your efforts to fail. Before you jump head-first into a new creative work management solution, follow these steps to help your busy marketing team adopt it and start working smarter.
1. Define Your Processes
You know how your team works best. As the first adopter and ultimate champion for new software, take that knowledge and provide a clear framework for how you’ll use the new work management tool. You don’t want your team logging into an empty workspace with no direction. You should define:
- Which features you’ll use: Some tools come with a lot of features, and you may not need them all. Make a shortlist of the features your team will need to learn, and explain how they will help make your team’s life easier to provide incentive. Try to limit your list to key features at first — task management, shared project dashboards, and time tracking, for instance. You can always add features once your team has mastered the basics.
- How you’ll organize work: Your work management tool should offer a system for organizing tasks into folders or projects so your work is easy to find and track. Will your team organize work by the type of deliverable, requesting client, assignee, or a combination of all of the above? Decide which approach makes the most sense for you.
- How to name tasks. Consistent naming conventions will make it easy for your team to understand the context of the task and what’s expected of them. Set up a system to include rules such as: Start/end tasks with [Client name], Start tasks with a verb, like “Create” or “Update,” or Start/end with a time estimate for how long the task will take [2hrs].
- How to organize attachments. Clarify where documents and creative files should be stored to make sure assets don’t get lost, and only approved versions make it out the door. Will they all be housed in one folder or a shared drive? Will they be attached directly to the related task or folder? After a campaign is complete, will final versions be housed somewhere specific?
2. Start with a Core Group
Now that you’ve outlined your processes for using the tool, you need to get feedback from your team to make sure they agree. By bringing in a small core group of early-adopters, you can iron out kinks before rolling the software out to your whole team. Explain your outlined processes, provide trainings on how to use key features, and ask your early-adopters to start using it immediately. Then check in with them periodically to find out if there are any issues you didn’t anticipate, or if these early adopters have discovered an even better way to use the tool.
3. Adjust and Improve Your Processes
After your core group has been using the software for smaller, collaborative projects, they may have suggestions for better ways to use certain features or tips for improving naming conventions, organization, etc. Listen earnestly, and incorporate their feedback into your processes. After all, the people that will be working with the software every day should have the final say on how to use it.
4. Deploy to the Entire Team
Now that you’ve tested the software with your core group and addressed any issues, it’s time to bring in the rest of your team. Do this the same way you did for your test group: explain your processes, provide training, and ask them to start using the software immediately. Set deadlines and motivate your team to enter data and complete steps in the new tool.
For example, try to get everyone to build a profile by the end of the week. Then check in after a few days to make sure people aren’t reverting to old systems out of habit. Ask how things are going, and make any necessary adjustments to better support your team. The more you can modify the tool to fit to the way your team already works (instead of asking your team to change their habits), the more likely your team will adopt.
5. Continue to Fine-Tune
As with everything, keep asking for feedback. If a process is no longer working, talk to your team to create a solution. If you’re using a software-as-a-service (SaaS) collaboration tool, it’s likely that the vendor will release regular updates, improvements, and new features. Always consider your team’s needs and whether these new features will actually improve how your team gets work done.
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A collaborative work management solution can help cut down on unnecessary meetings, an overwhelming amount of email, and time wasted searching for the latest versions of creative assets. Use these steps to help your marketing team successfully adopt a new collaboration tool, so they can spend less time maintaining their inboxes and more time doing the work they love.
Emily Bonnie is a content marketing manager for Wrike, a work management and collaboration solution that helps marketing and creative teams get more done.
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