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At first glance, marketing and project management may not be an obvious pair. Predictability, guidelines, and repeatable processes are the backbone of project management methodologies. Their rigid nature is often at odds with the fast-paced, creative world of marketing.
Despite their contrast, marketing organizations and marketing teams are rapidly adopting project management principles and using software tools to increase efficiency and better serve their clients.
Not every PM software meets the unique needs of marketers:
Enter marketing project management software. This technology convergence was fueled by the gaps that many marketing teams experience with traditional project management software. Marketing teams are just one of many groups benefiting from the growth in popularity of project management software.
A survey conducted by Carnegie Mellon found that when organizations become better at project management, key performance metrics significantly increase. Scheduling adherence rises 50 percent. Productivity can improve by over 60 percent. Numbers like these helped the global project and portfolio management market grow to $3.9 billion in 2013, and its predicted to reach $5.7 billion by 2018. At that time, the much larger marketing software sector is expected to reach $32.4 billion.
Together, marketing project management software may be a mouthful, but it has the potential to meet the nuanced needs of marketing professionals and drive measurable business performance.
Many vendors will claim to provide the best project management software for marketing, but the best software for your business depends on the functionality your team needs. So how do you know what functions are critical? At a broad level, you need a system to manage your marketing projects end-to-end. More granularly, you need a system that fits your company’s strategic goals.
Pinpoint where your processes need improvement, and use those pain points to help identify the specific, must-have features in your new system. Identify your biggest priorities first:
Once you know the problems you’re solving, you can truly identify and select the best marketing project management software for your business.
Functionality varies from vendor to vendor, but good marketing project management software should provide the following features:
Marketing project management tools can be used by a variety of businesses. Depending on your size and goals, your system priorities will vary. Below are a few additional points to consider depending on your intended use.
Big businesses and global brands must keep track of myriad activities across the organization. For enterprises, choosing marketing software that provides a view of multiple projects is critical, as is integration with existing ERP systems. Additionally, large companies must ensure that mobile and remote workers can easily access the system, as well as collaborate from around the world.
Marketing and advertising agencies must manage initiatives for multiple clients. To do this, marketing project management tools must consolidate all client projects, communications, and files in one place. You’ll need strong project portfolio management tools alongside task management and other tools for managing projects individually. The best systems provide both. Agencies usually also require a vendor that allows collaborator seats, so that clients can login and stay up-to-date on project progress. Features such as a client portal, time tracking to bill per hour, and project templates are paramount at this type of business.
Small and medium-sized businesses require two things from a marketing project management system: consolidation and scalability. As businesses grow, it’s common to adopt standalone solutions as singular issues arise. For example, you may have separate applications for tracking time, sharing files, and delegating deadlines. A good project management system will streamline these separate operations into one platform. And since you’re growing, you need an easy way to add users. A Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), or cloud-based marketing project management solution, will grow with your team.
Marketing freelancers or owners of a very small business need the right tools to successfully manage clients and juggle multiple projects. At this size, client portals are very important, especially if you spend a lot of time emailing back and forth with clients. Time tracking and invoicing features are also valuable tools to have on one platform. Lastly, mobile access should be available so you can manage projects on the go.