In-house marketing and creative services teams are asked to do a lot, often servinge a large volume of internal clients and creatinge a wide range of deliverables. So, one of the essential roles of a project manager is just figuring out how to prioritize all of the demands on the team’s time. While hard deadlines and the expected ROI of a project can certainly be good guideposts, there are so many mitigating factors that it can be difficult to establish clear-cut criteria for prioritization. Through our work with over 1,000 marketing and creative teams, RoboHead has developed new ways of thinking about prioritization that can help power success for your department. Let’s look at a number of common scenarios marketing and creative teams face to see how you can prioritize work more effectively.
Pulled in all directions
One of the biggest problems facing in-house creative and marketing teams is just the sheer number of internal clients requesting projects. At times it can feel like your team is being pulled in every direction. So how do you prioritize projects if, in theory, you’re treating all of these departments equally?
One way is to use a tiering methodology where you prioritize work based on an individual project’s strategic importance and complexity. Basically, you create four or five tiers of projects (Tier 1, Tier 2, etc.) and then sort projects into those buckets based on how important they are to the organization and how complex the project is. This will allow you to identify and prioritize those projects that matter most and assign them to the right team members.
To determine a project’s strategic importance, consider things like:
- Initiative or campaign it falls under
- Size and influence of the audience
- Potential revenue impact
- Potential brand impact
- Longevity of the asset to be created
To determine the complexity of the project, consider factors like:
- Amount of original design needed
- Number and type of executions
- Production and content complexity
- Number of stakeholders
In order for this methodology to work, you need to have complete visibility into your team’s capacity so you can assign projects to the right people and allocate your resources accordingly. On that same note, it’s always best practice to have your most senior staff working on the most strategically important projects. Not only will this help ensure that the final deliverable is as impactful as possible, but it will also help you justify the cost of these higher-ranking individuals.
You should also look to optimize your project initiation process. This will create a standardized system for accepting and processing project requests, ensuring you have all the information you need to begin creative work and making it easier for your team to sort through the noise and determine which projects need to be prioritized. To encourage buy-in on these new standards, be sure to communicate to outside business segments that any new requests that fall outside of your established guidelines will not be prioritized because they will disrupt your team’s process.
The CEO has a request
It’s a scenario that almost any seasoned marketer has experienced: The CEO needs something done, and unsurprisingly, they feel it should be prioritized because of its significance. The challenge here is that you had a marketing strategy ready to execute and now this project will throw everything off. How do you prioritize this new request with your ongoing and scheduled projects?
To be completely honest, you’re probably going to end up doing the CEO’s projects first. We all want to keep our jobs, after all. But there are ways you can mitigate the impact these requests have so they don’t derail your entire department.
Essentially, the best practice is to build out your marketing strategy as far in advance as possible, justifying all of your projects with their expected impact and projected ROI. Provide solid numbers and use productivity reports to show that your team is already working near maximum capacity. If you can do that, it can help curb the whims of your C-suite personnel because they can see how their impromptu requests are going to delay the execution of your core marketing strategy. The more complete information you have about your own activities, the easier it will be to put C-suite impulses on the shelf.
Being understaffed as a department is one of the most common challenges facing marketing teams, and one that creates significant challenges when trying to prioritize work. You know all the things you want to accomplish, but you also know you simply don’t have the capacity on your team to get everything done. So how do you prioritize projects then?
The key is to assess what your team does best and then weigh that against the expected ROI of the specific projects on your plate. Where those two ideas intersect is where you should prioritize your efforts.
For example, let’s say you’ve been directed to create a new website by the end of the next quarter. But you know that you don’t have the talent on your team to create a fully functioning website in the time allotted. However, you do have an experienced writing team with available capacity. You could instead build out effective content for your existing site to bridge the temporary gap and generate strong ROI until you have the resources in place to complete the website project correctly. You will undoubtedly need to justify such an approach. But if you can demonstrate that your decision is in the best interest of the organization, you will likely encounter less pushback.
When it comes to prioritizing marketing and creative services projects, there will always be some give and take. The key is to take a thoughtful approach to the process and arm yourself with the data you need to justify your decisions. If you are consistently producing positive results for your organization, you can be confident that all of your priorities are right where they should be.