How to choose the right project management tool
Over the past year, marketing teams have become increasingly remote, asynchronous, and autonomous. But, it wasn’t just COVID-19 that set us on this path. As marketing functions have increased their scope of responsibility, teams have become fragmented.
Now, even a small startup marketing team might consist of:
- A marketing director
- A content marketer
- A social media marketer
- A paid advertising marketer
- A marketing analyst
- A special programs marketer
- An event marketer
- A marketing operations manager
- A graphic designer
- A public relations manager
Bridging the gaps between these marketing silos is crucial to success. Additionally, marketing teams collaborate cross-functionally with sales, engineering, and customer support.
Dynamic marketing teams can use project management software to better collaborate and communicate, and, ultimately, ensure business success.
How do you know if you need project management software?
Deciding to implement project management software can be a tough decision. Often, teams have momentum with how they have managed projects in the past. Moving to a tool for the first time requires getting your whole team to change their pattern of behavior.
Some signs that your team might be ready to implement a project management tool:
Your team is asynchronous
With the rise of remote work, teams now span time zones and even international borders. Many marketers have adjusted their schedules to take care of children or loved ones. If your team doesn’t work the same hours, a project management tool helps keep everyone on the same pulse.
Communication is splintered
How do you communicate project status with stakeholders? If it’s a combination of email, Slack, phone, Zoom and text, you may be ready to move to a centralized communication log.
Deadlines are missed
COVID-19 has made us all feel like we are living in a time loop. Yet, it’s no excuse for poor project or time management. Your team may need an automated reminder system to keep them on track.
Questions when choosing a project management tool
When deciding on your tool, here are a few questions to help you review your marketing project management process:
- What works well about our current project management process?
- What is missing from our current project management process?
- How many projects do we have, and how long are they expected to take?
- How will my team adopt a new software solution?
- Who are the project owners and decision-makers, and how can we get them on board?
- Who, outside of our team, will need access to this system?
- How important are deadlines to our team?
- How important is capacity management?
- How important is user interface for our team?
Types of project management tools
Don’t dig right into software reviews. It helps to have some clarity on the style of tool that might work well for your team.
Here are just a few examples of project management styles that you may want to consider:
Why mess with a classic? Calendars have been around since at least 45 BC. For a good reason. If your team works on strict deadlines, your project management tool should incorporate a robust calendar.
Calendars help to provide structure to our workday, sync teams, plan, and keep us on track with deadlines and deliverables.
Kanban is the digital equivalent of a bulletin board. In fact, Kanban is the Japanese word for bulletin board. This system is extremely popular with software developers. It mimics moving cards through a process. For example, a blog post might move from ‘idea development’ to ‘writing’ to ‘editing’ to ‘design’ to ‘publishing’.
If your team works on capacity rather than strict deadlines, or includes multiple stages to projects, Kanban is a good choice. Kanban is a popular choice for teams that use the agile method.
Gantt incorporates many teams, stakeholders, and dependencies into a singular view. This Gantt chart is a series of bar charts that breaks down into a day-by-day view. It can visualize big projects and their path to completion. Gantt works well if your projects tend to ‘waterfall,’ or have many dependencies.
If your team has several dependencies with other teams on a long-term project, consider the Gantt method. Often, this method requires a dedicated project manager.
Marketing project management software tools
There are dozens of options for project management tools. Here are some examples of the most popular for startup marketing teams.
Insightly’s built-in project management tool can help marketing, sales, and delivery teams stay on track by managing milestones and project pipelines. Insightly collects all of your project-related documentation, project plans, worksheets, and tasks into a centralized dashboard with real-time data and custom views. You can also Integrate Insightly with other tools and external systems to ensure on-time delivery and happy customers. Learn more about Insightly’s product and pricing structure.
Asana is a beloved project management software for marketing teams. Not only is it easy to use, it also has built-in features that allow each team member to use Asana in a way that best suits them. Asana has a calendar, Kanban, and Gantt-like views. Teams can customize it for any type of project. The basic version is free.
Trello is a favorite of software engineering teams. Based on the Kanban style, it has ‘add-ons’ that allow for better workload management. Its simple design is a great fit for teams concerned about onboarding. The basic version is free.
Basecamp is great for teams that have asynchronous collaboration. Each user has a dashboard that helps them focus on what needs the most attention. Basecamp is great if your team thrives on status updates and communicating often. Basecamp starts at $99/month for teams.
If your team has historically used Gantt or waterfall project management, consider Monday. Monday helps visualize projects with many dependencies and inter-team collaboration. Monday is easy to onboard and share across cross-functions. Monday starts at $8/person/month.
If you want to design your own system from the bottom up, Google Sheets is a powerful tool for collaboration. Google Sheets requires very little user onboarding and is simple to share across teams. However, it contains no dedicated project management functionality and would require detailed upkeep.
Project management should make marketing success simpler. If your team has been struggling with remote work and meeting milestones, implementing a project management software will help. Consider your team’s specific needs, preferences and barriers when adopting a project management tool.
Don’t be afraid to get granular. But, also keep in mind your ultimate business goals to make sure the tool you choose improves your team’s productivity and amplifies its impact on business.
What Is a Gantt Chart? TeamGantt