Project management office delivers better marketing results

Many people believe that the rigor and discipline of project management mixes with the creative nature of marketing like oil and water. While it takes some getting used to, once the routines are established, not only does the relationship work, but the marketing effectiveness actually improves. The more marketing channels: television, radio, print and digital media, and the higher the creative refresh rate, the greater the benefits. In marketing, media, and advertising, a conventional approach to project management will not work. There has to be a better way!

Companies often implement a Program or Project Management Office (PMO) to manage large, complex, or expensive projects. Differences between a Project and Program Management Office will be left for further discussion. In some cases, marketing budgets represent a significant part of a company’s overall operating budget. When viewed holistically, marketing projects potentially require complex coordination across multiple agencies and across channels. Therefore, marketing is a logical candidate for a PMO. Unfortunately, marketing departments often view the sheer rigor of the Project Management Institute (PMI) prescribed approach as too structured to support the creative process. Additionally, many marketing organizations believe that the PMI process requires too much overhead for the necessary agility to quickly adapt to market. The solution is to use an approach that balances rigor and flexibility while providing the necessary health visibility and control of marketing projects using only the highest value components of the PMI process.

PMI is a large project management training and certification organization. The PMI Project Management Professional (PMP) is only a certification available to project managers and is a widely known and accepted form of accreditation. The number of PMI-certified project managers influences most project or program management offices (PMOs) to follow the approaches established by PMI. The similarity fostered by 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 doesn’t establish the flexibility that marketing and advertising organizations require. The PMI certification is just one indicator of an individual’s project management competency. 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 need to be agile in managing multiple workflows in a fast-paced environment, where market forces can, and often do, dictate sudden changes of 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 requires creative approaches. Successful PMO requires a thorough understanding of project management principles. Experience in striking a balance between prescribed project management methods and avoiding disruption of creative development is essential. The right approach to establishing a marketing PMO adds value by:

Provide sufficient process to maintain financial and health visibility of organizational leadership through chief marketing officer (CMO) and above

Establish a communication process to improve the coordination of brand messages through marketing channels for consistent impact marketing that motivates customers and consumers to buy goods and services.

Flexibility to adapt to our clients’ specific objectives and market needs, as well as to consistently deliver outstanding service

I found that using a PMO approach tailored to the special needs of the marketing department offers additional value beyond the points listed above. These will differ by organization, but often include the following:

· Increase senior management confidence in the solution. Project sponsors and decision makers must believe that creative direction is strong and well supported before they can accept it. Regardless of the specific creative approach, senior management will be more confident when brand managers and other key stakeholders have contributed to a comprehensive consideration of the issues involved in the selection process.

· Stakeholder alignment. By establishing the coordination of multiple activities and providing a forum for all stakeholders to contribute, they will be briefed on the direction as ideas are transformed into marketing and branding content and effective execution in the marketplace.

· Improving efficiency. The implementation of marketing materials generally requires significant effort. There are planned events that need to be addressed like sales conferences, new product launches, sporting events, concerts, etc. that require material available at specific times. The PMO provides planning to enable the highest quality materials without the inefficiencies and lowest quality of a last minute struggle. I have come across situations where important opportunities to connect with the consumer were missed or were found with mediocre content, all due to lapses in the planning process.

· Marketing performance improvement. I have witnessed situations where, after the PMO was established, the marketing team was able to reverse the decline in sales and generate significant growth by improving cross-channel communication and consistency of consumer-facing messages.

When all of your departments within your brand marketing group are working toward shared goals with a coordinated schedule, you know your PMO is working. You will be able to consistently present your brand across all channels and your marketing efforts will increase sales.

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