Whether you’re putting the finishing touches on a great site design or seeing leads stream in from an email campaign, the end of a successful project feels great. What’s not always so great? The middle. Poorly defined expectations, sparring stakeholders and blown deadlines can derail the best of marketing intentions – and lead to unhappy clients.
As a project manager at The Simons Group, my job is to make sure our work stays on track, on time and on budget. We’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, developing a repeatable process that keeps everyone on the ball. If you’re tired of hearing “When is this due?” and “Why didn’t anyone tell me that?,” here are a few strategies to strengthen your project management game.
4 pro tips to keep projects on track
- Define your scope. Does that new logo need to include a tagline? How many concepts will you deliver? Will you present your work on a conference call or in person? Setting clear expectations upfront helps you avoid budget-busting scope creep and miscommunication with clients about deliverables.
- Name your stakeholders. This includes everyone performing the work, as well as the people who will approve it. Assign specific responsibilities to each person, from writing content to sourcing photos. If it’s a client-facing project, determine which company members will be involved in the review process and loop in everyone from the start. There’s nothing worse than preparing to launch a new site, only to find out the CFO thinks the home page is “too green.”
- Get techy. Project management tools are a lifesaver for companies with complex projects or a lot of projects to handle (or both, like us!). The Simons Group invested in one earlier this year, and it’s already paid for itself by cutting way down on the time we spend hunting through emails. Some platforms come with extras like time tracking, CRMs and accounting features, while others just offer the basics. Either way, you’ll be able to assign workers to tasks, set deadlines and see progress at a glance.
- Consolidate feedback. Everyone’s got an opinion – but when they all chime in separately, those opinions take forever to sift through, adding time and expense to your project. If multiple people at your client’s company will be reviewing work, encourage them to establish one point person to share feedback. Ideally, that person should smooth over internal squabbles and present the consensus. It’s not helpful to hear that Tom thinks “Chief Marketing Officer” should be capitalized in the middle of a sentence, but Bob doesn’t. (By the way, Bob’s right.)
How do you keep your projects on track? Let us know in the comments below.