How the marketing world has changed! Whether you are being asked to produce projects in print, email, mobile, or for your website, schedules are compressed. There are more channels to integrate. Everything is more urgent. How do you keep everything running on time and on a budget? Here is a quick guide from Workfront, a project management platform, for simplifying the project management process. These steps apply whether you use third-party project management software or not.

1. Improve the intake process. Most marketing departments have requests coming in from multiple directions. How do you keep track of how much work is coming in, what the expectations are, and what the priorities should be?
• Create a single funnel for all work requests. Whether it’s one person, a dedicated email address, or a software program, create a single point of contact. No more sticky notes, text message requests, or “desk flybys.”
• Develop a template that gathers the details of each project. What is the scope? What is the timeframe? Collecting all (and we mean all!) of the information upfront in a systematic, standardized way allows you to prioritize and manage projects effectively.
• Set up a response protocol. How many times do people submit a second request because they think the first one fell into a deep, dark hole? Respond to each request within a set time frame.

Step 2: Set up a standardized workflow. Have weekly kickoff meetings with all of the stakeholders. Get agreement on timelines and details. You don’t want anyone coming back later and saying, “I didn’t agree to that.” Or, “That’s not what we discussed.” Ensure that everyone is in alignment with the scopes upfront (no scope creep!).

Also answer questions such as:
• Who will be spearheading each project? Someone must be ultimately accountable for moving the project along.
• What is the schedule for updates? With regular, detailed updates, things stay on task, and people are held accountable.
• Are any of these projects repeatable? Whether it’s direct mail, a landing page, or an email blast, setting up templates for a similar and ongoing project can save you tons of time.

Step 3: Streamline approvals with digital proofing. Establish a clear understanding of who needs to review and approve work. When does that work need to be approved? When possible, collaborate in a digital tool that gives everyone visibility into the process.

It doesn’t take specialized tools to improve the project management workflow. It requires stakeholders working through a centralized point of contact, in a centralized environment, so everyone stays in the loop. Set up protocols, communicate expectations, and stay consistent. Then watch things move along more smoothly.

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