Many people believe the rigor and discipline of project management mixes with the creative nature of marketing like oil and water. While it does takes some getting used to, once the routines are established, the relationship not only works, but the marketing effectiveness actually improves. The more marketing channels: TV, radio, print and digital media, and the greater the frequency of creative refresh, the larger the benefits become. In marketing, media, and advertising, a cookie-cutter approach to project management will not work. There has to be a better way!
Firms often implement a Program or Project Management Office (PMO) to manage the large, complex, or costly projects. The differences between a Project and Program Management Office will be left for another discussion. Marketing budgets in some cases represent a significant portion of a company’s overall operating budget. When viewed holistically, marketing projects potentially require complex coordination between multiple agencies and across channels. Therefore, marketing is a logical candidate for a PMO. Unfortunately, marketing departments often view the full rigor of the Project Management Institute (PMI) prescribed approach as too structured to support the creative process. Also, many marketing organizations believe the PMI process requires too much overhead for the required agility to quickly adapt to the marketplace. The solution is to use an approach that balances rigor and flexibility while still providing the necessary status visibility and control of marketing projects using only the highest value components of the PMI process.
The PMI is a large project management training and certification organization. The PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP) is only one available certification for project managers and is a widely known and accepted form of accreditation. The quantity of PMI certified project managers influences most Program or Project Management Office s (PMO) to follow PMI established approaches. The commonality fostered by the PMI results in very similar documentation templates and processes regardless of department or industry. While this similarity simplifies staffing and training issues, perfect for information technology projects for example, it does not establish the flexibility marketing and advertising organizations require. The PMI certification is only one indicator of project management competence in an individual. The marketing project manager will require more than project management skills to successfully manage marketing projects or establish a marketing PM. The project manager will have to become agile in managing multiple work streams in a fast paced environment, where market forces can and often do dictate sudden changes in direction. The project management approach cannot slow down the marketing process.
Establishing a PMO in a marketing organization presents a special set of challenges that calls for creative approaches. Success of the PMO requires deep understanding of project management principals. The experience to strike a balance between the prescribed project management methods and avoiding interruption of the creative development is essential. The correct approach to establishing a marketing PMO adds value by:
· Providing just enough process to maintain financial and status visibility to organizational leadership through the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and above
· Establishing a communications process to enhance coordination of on-brand messaging across marketing channels for consistent impactful marketing that motivates clients and consumers to purchase goods and services
· Flexibility to adapt to our clients’ specific goals and market needs, as well as consistently deliver outstanding service
I have found that the use of a PMO approach tailored to the special needs of the marketing department offers extended value beyond the points listed above. These will differ by organization but often include the following:
· Raising senior management’s confidence in the solution. Project sponsors and decision-makers must believe the creative direction is sound and well supported before they can accept it. Regardless of the specific creative approach, senior management will have higher confidence when the brand managers and other key stakeholders have all contributed to a comprehensive consideration of the issues involved in the selection process.
· Aligning Stakeholders. By establishing coordination of multiple activities and providing a forum for all stakeholders to contribute they will be informed of direction as ideas transform into on-brand, marketing content and effective in-market execution.
· Improving efficiency. Deploying marketing materials usually requires significant effort. There are planned events that need to be addressed like sales conferences, new product launches, sports events, concerts, etc. that require material be available at specific times. The PMO provides planning to enable the highest quality materials without the inefficiencies and lower quality of a last minute scramble. I have encountered situations where important opportunities to connect with the consumer were missed, or met with lackluster content – all due to lapses in the planning process.
· Enhancing Marketing performance. I have witnessed situations where after the PMO was established, the marketing team was able to reverse declining sales and generate significant growth by improving the cross channel communication and consistency of consumer oriented messaging.
When all of your departments within your brand’s marketing group are working toward shared goals with a coordinated timetable, you will know your PMO is working. You will be able to consistently present your brand across channels, and your marketing efforts will be increasing sales.