So you’re ready to get those deadlines, approvals, projects and tasks under control but don’t know where to start. From selecting through implementing, we’ve got some ideas to get your marketing and advertising projects (and team) whipped into shape!

Evaluate what’s important to you and your team

Is time management more important? Maybe a system based off Gantt charts is better for you.

Is tracking approvals key to your process? Then look for a system which highlights approvals.

Maybe organizing multi-faceted, multi-channel advertising campaigns has been a struggle. Or maybe tracking a longer-term project, say a website development, is where it’s at for you.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed with all the project management options out there. The trick is to prioritize what’s important to you, your team, your boss and/or clients, then find the system which makes those priorities easy to track.

Here’s a list of some of more popular ones (and BTW, we have no affiliation with any of these companies).
These are also very flexible options, allowing you to set it up for your situation.There are many other options out there which are specific to certain scenarios, say for marketing agencies or software developers.

Find a system and stick with it

I’ve tried many different systems – most of them are just steps away from each other. So once you’ve done your research, based on those priorities you’ve mapped out, give it a test run to see how easy it is to work with. If it passes your tests, dig in and go for it. Then stick with it! It might be frustrating, especially at the beginning, but the more you use it, the easier it will be. It does no good to just keep trying different systems when really….

The system is only as good as the data going in (or not)

When I managed an in-house marketing department, my main headache was keeping track of all the activities. From tiny tasks to long-term marketing projects involving many people, there were so many moving parts. And so many people wanting to know the status of them all. I thought a tracking system would get management off my back and get my not-so-focused creatives to prioritize. Well it helped, but I soon realized the system wasn’t really the answer. Those who saw schedule updates as a low priority before the tracking system, were the ones I still had to physically ask “What’s the status of your project.”

No system is any good if there’s bad input, or worse, no input. So if you find you’re not reaping the benefits of the tracking software, you might need to step back and address some larger issues. Maybe coaching the staff or finding a central person, the one who loves to organize and doesn’t mind asking people “what’s up”, to be the updater.

Invite EVERYONE to be a user

Project management software is a life-saver when it comes to tracking approvals. So the more people you have in the system, the better. You’ll definitely want those who create the content and art to be users as well as those who need to approve the creations. Also think about those who interface with the client and/or boss, say an account executive or an admin assistant. Those people will be able to get status reports at their convenience, help their contacts review the creative, all without bothering you!

Say goodbye to “final final final really final.jpg” file names

One of the top reasons I love tracking systems is the ability to see, in one place, how many revisions there have been, what the requested edits have been and who has seen it. This all helps to keep version control, well, under control. It’s much easier to stick with a naming convention for the proofs, then just add the next logical step. Say “Mortgage Ad v1”, then “Mortgage Ad v2”, etc. Even if someone tells you it’s the last edit, experience has shown us that’s not usually the case. Stick to your naming convention!

What do we use?

Here at JB Communications Group, we love Trello. Its free version is very robust. We love its flexibility, the approval & deadline tracking, how easy it is to on-board a new user, and the convenience of having a central location for proofs. It definitely acts as a file depository for some clients. They love being able to easily find an older file without having to ask someone. Some of our clients have internal systems already in place, so we definitely use their system as applicable. We still track those projects though, in our system, just not as detailed as with some of our other clients who may not have their own system.

If you’d like to see some examples of how we use Trello, we’d be happy to share some screen shots or talk you through some scenarios. Just ask!

Check out our 5 Tips for De-stressing Deadlines!

So let us know what system you select and how it goes for you!