Project management: Why it’s crucial for marketers, not just engineers

by Katie Jansen on Jul 27, 2017

Project management is usually associated with engineering teams, which require high levels of organization to effectively build products or even carry out mundane tasks. But any team that has a lot of moving parts in order to deliver quality results can benefit from project management. This is especially true for marketing teams, where members balance their own verticals and multiple cross-team projects. Here’s why good project management is key to revenue-driving verticals like marketing.

What is project management?

In short, project management is the discipline of planning, executing, and controlling all aspects of a project to achieve a particular objective. Project management originated as a tool for engineers but has evolved into a discipline that any team can use.

As companies scale, project management becomes increasingly important to reign in costs and inefficiencies. Project management can improve your marketing team’s workflow by:

  • Creating a clear path: One of the biggest benefits of project management is that it keeps every team member on track. This lays the groundwork for achieving the goal of your project.
  • Defining a schedule: With a path clearly laid out, project management keeps everyone on a defined schedule so that deliverables are achieved on time. This means you have a clear timeline that everyone can see.
  • Encouraging collaboration: Once everyone is on schedule with clear path to their goal, they’re encouraged to communicate and collaborate in order to achieve it.
  • Allowing for efficient use of resources: Resources are always finite, and project management allows you efficiently use your resources.
  • Streamlining workflows: Time is also limited, so creating more efficient workflows is a major part of project management.
  • Controlling costs: Some projects may cost a significant amount of money, and project management will help you stay on budget.
  • Assuring quality: By having a clearly defined goal, accountable team members, and maximized resources, you’ll have the best chance of delivering a polished, high-quality product.
  • Preparing for the future: Things you learn from project management will guide future workflows and to help set realistic expectations for schedules, resources needed, and budgets for future projects.

Why project management is important in marketing teams

One of the biggest benefits of integrating project management into your marketing team is to align everyone to a single goal. By ensuring your team is in sync, you will have a consistent voice and look across all marketing efforts. That makes your brand, your company, and your product more recognizable.

Just like an engineer might track the stages in which the next app update will roll out, as a marketing leader, you need to make sure you lay out a clear path toward your end goal.

By investing in proper tools, you’ll have clear and concise communication and cut down on redundancies. Getting everyone on board with (or at least aware of) a project from the beginning will save time and reduce confusion when collaboration is actually required. The potential for delivering a high quality product increases when everyone has a well-rounded view of each project and can lend their individual expertise.

“The potential for delivering a high quality product increases when everyone has a well-rounded view of each project and can lend their individual expertise.”

Since project management requires constant communication, it has the inherent benefit of promoting collaboration and assigning responsibilities. It will cut down on time wasted trying to get everyone on board due to things like lost emails or forgotten tasks.

In marketing, team members tend to own their own verticals. We have team members to focus on content, design, social, events, and PR, whereas account management and HR teams, for example, tend to all handle all aspects of the team’s responsibilities together.

Eliminating silos within your own team is just as important as doing so across teams. A good project management system will require that your team not only communicates with each other on projects, but utilizes each other’s expertise to create the highest quality product possible.

Project management tools for marketing teams

Setting up an appropriately collaborative system of communication with the tools you choose will necessitate simple cross-team collaboration, eliminating tunnel vision in your vertical. Don’t just choose any project management tools—choose the right tools.

We use Asana on our team, because there is no guessing as to who is responsible for any part of a project. There is a project owner and any number of followers who can be assigned subtasks. Collaboration is key, and a tool like Asana clarifies each person’s tasks for the entire team. It’s also used throughout our company, which allows for seamless interactions on projects. For example, if we are adding a new section to our corporate website, once our marketing team is done on copy and design, we can immediately assign it to engineering for development (and they can see the history of the entire project).

Asana project management software

Two other tools we use are Smartsheet and Trello. Smartsheet is basically a spreadsheet on steroids that allows collaboration in a way that Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets can’t. We use Trello to keep track of all the content in production, from blog posts to bylines. By having all of the content visible in one tool, we can plan ahead and keep stakeholders accountable.

Be smart when choosing organizational tools for your team. Rather than choosing the most popular tools or the ones you’re used to, choose the minimum number of tools that will benefit your team’s established workflow. As your team scales, it’s important to keep in mind the bloat that comes with using more tools, as it could potentially cause inefficiencies by creating the very silos you’re trying to eliminate.

Trello how to enable calendar view

At AppLovin, we researched new project management tools to help simplify our workflow and to enhance our team communication, but we ended up modifying our workflow to use our existing project management tools to achieve the same goal. If you’re a small team, simpler might be better—you may not need a fancy project management tool designed for large marketing teams. As your team grows, however, know that you are not married to your current workflow or tools, and evaluate which solutions will actually serve your needs most efficiently.

The main takeaway is to be flexible enough to evaluate when workflows aren’t working properly so you can tackle problems head-on. You’ll know when you’ve found a solution that works because you’ll see less redundancies and your team will know what is expected of them. Bottom line: project management will allow more effective collaboration and better results.

Katie Jansen is AppLovin’s Chief Marketing Officer. In addition to her work, Katie is an advocate for women in tech and equality in the workplace.