Project managers are found in all types of organizations. From a martech consultancy to a construction company, every company needs project managers to deliver successful projects on time, in scope, and within budget for both internal teams and external clients. But project managers aren’t the only professionals who are responsible for, well, managing projects. And whether you’re a marketer, wedding planner, or architect, there are a few skills you can learn from project managers to help you become better in your role.
Project Management in Marketing
The skills developed in project management can be applied across many occupations, especially marketing. Meeting deadlines, scheduling, managing budgets, and planning are all critical components of being successful in both project management and marketing. And many marketers use these basic project management skills everyday.
For example, as a project coordinator, I work closely with various team members to create strategy documents to successfully execute different types of client projects. Similarly, marketers work closely with their team to create project plans and briefs for numerous campaigns, events, etc.
So, if you’re a marketer looking to better manage projects, become more efficient, and get more campaigns out the door while being able to dedicate more time to those ambitious initiatives you’ve been dying to get to, advancing your basic project management skills are imperative for growth. Those basics boil down to three core capabilities: 1) developing the project scope, 2) putting a timeline in place, and 3) monitoring the budget.
1. Develop the Project Scope
The scope of a project is where you define all requirements and goals that need to be accomplished in order for the project to be deemed successful. The scoping document should include objective, deliverables, resources needed, as well as, milestones, tasks, deadlines, and budget requirements, among many other details, depending on the type of project.
At the start of every marketing project, whether it is an email campaign or trade show event, start by defining the requirements needed in order to achieve your goal. Working with other marketing team members, you can create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) that lists all the essential actions you will have to take during the project to meet your objective. This ensures that your marketing projects stay in scope throughout the duration of the plan.
2. Put a Timeline in Place
Time management is a skill that project managers practice on a daily basis. As projects come together, there are a lot of moving parts to manage. In order to do this, a timeline is developed to show how all aspects of a project impact one another.
An easy way to develop a project timeline is to work backwards from the due date; this is known as backwards planning. Backwards planning entails establishing your absolute deadline and estimating how long each milestone will take based on historical data (how long it took to complete tasks in the past). If you do not have historical data, estimate based on the estimates provided by the team members who will be performing the work. From there, you can determine when you should start the project in order to achieve your due date and, along the way, you can assign dates for each task and milestone.
No matter how big or small a project may be, determining the milestones and task deadlines needed to keep your team on track is important for marketers. In addition to keeping your team motivated to meet the next goal date, you will be able to set expectations with your client and provide them with progress updates throughout the course of the project.
3. Monitor the Budget
Scoping out a project and developing timelines are two very important tasks, but budgeting tops the list. Many times, the reason that a project goes over budget is due to poor planning. It is critical to start each project with an estimated cost for each aspect of your project.
Say you’re sponsoring a marketing event. You’ll want to estimate the total cost of the event (venue fees, food and beverage, promotional gifts, etc.), and track that against your expenses as they come in.
Budget is also tied to the other project planning steps. If a project begins to go over budget, it could implicate issues with the schedule or scope. Increased budget could call for a change to the project scope and essentially push the timeline back.
Gaining Project Management Skills
As a marketer, you are constantly developing your skills to become as successful as possible and applying these essential project management skills to your work is a great way to do that.
Developing your project management skills can take place in a number of ways. Shadowing an experienced project manager is a great way to gain knowledge from someone who has been in the field and understands the ins and outs of these techniques. However, not every company has a project management team or an experienced project manager on staff. If that is the case, you can also learn these skills by listening to podcasts and reading articles on the subject. A great podcast that is informative for all levels of project management is Projectified. Projectified focuses on different perspectives of managing projects and teams and how to become as effective as possible in the field. The PM Times is a great website to discover articles about project management.
As I continue to grow and progress in my profession, I am constantly developing my project management skills. From a organizing a multi-day company-wide onsite meeting to a marketing newsletter, I have managed to complete projects successfully by determining the correct tasks and milestones in order to accomplish the project.
Not only has project management helped me in my professional life, I have also been able to utilize these skills in my everyday life. I work as diligently as I can throughout the course of any project due to practicing my project management skills regularly.
Project management skills are used throughout many occupations, whether you realize you’re using them or not. Delivering a project in scope, on time, and within budget is a measurement of a successful project, whether it’s for a client or an internal project. The more you put these project management skills into practice, the better you’ll become at managing your marketing projects.