Managing projects in a creative agency is a balancing act. As a leader of content management or just one of the project management process, you need to plan the work, manage creatives and make sure your project meets the deadline, doesn’t exceed budget, and—equally, if not most importantly—meets client expectations. At this point arises the marketing resource management software.
What will you get thanks to this article:
- Which one creative agency has selected our marketing resource management software
- How to effectively manage resources during marketing investments
- Reasons why marketing departments use resource management tools
- How to increase project workflow management with MRM software
In order to successfully complete a project, you need to:
- make sure that you have all the resources you need,
- estimate for how long you will need those resources and
- create a schedule that meets the deadline and matches your team’s availability.
Fortunately, following the best practices of resource management will allow you to balance the workload (read about workload management) and control the budget of your projects. But why is managing resources so important in creative agencies and marketing departments?
You probably already use several tools to run your projects and manage your team – marketing tools, analytics tools, etc. Chances are, you work with your in-house employees, remote teams, and freelancers. In such a complex workplace, losing sight of your team’s overall performance across multiple projects is easy.
In this article, I’m about to convince you that—as a producer working for a creative agency of any size—you can benefit from marketing resource management at different stages of the project, be it a pitching phase (or preparing a proposal), managing the work or reporting.
The beginning – an understanding of marketing resource management
Let’s begin this chapter by answering the question: what’s the connection between resource management and marketing? To try to answer, we need to start with properly understanding what resource management is.
Among project managers, an unambiguous understanding of resource management doesn’t exist. It’s quite popular (and the right approach), meaning that resource management contains such elements as resource scheduling and allocation. However, it can be found that project resource management is the same as resource scheduling. It can be found in many sources where resource scheduling alternates with resource allocation. Resource planning – often taken as an alternative word to resource management – can be found as one of many elements of the last word, resource management. So be aware of how things are going on.
It’s time to bring closer the most interesting term. The Association for Project Management prepared a broad definition.
Resource management is acquiring, allocating and managing the resources, such as individuals and their skills, finances, technology, materials, machinery and natural resources required for a project. (APM)
Of course, a manager doesn’t have unlimited time to do these tasks. The budget can’t be multiplied at the snap of a finger. Time is money – projects have to be on time. Thus, the ultimate goal of the resource management process is to ensure that resources are used effectively, on time, and within budget.
The role of (marketing) resource management as a practice is to ensure that resources are used effectively to finalize a project with the expected results, in the expected time, and within budget.
For who is a marketing resource management?
As we now know, the role of marketing resource management is to ensure that internal and/or external resources are used effectively to complete a project with the expected results, in the expected time, and within budget. How does it connect with marketing or creative agencies?
The crucial one, understanding marketing resource management (MRM), is broken down into two segments. One is defined as an approach, and the second – is as a software solution.
Marketing resource management is an approach according to marketing management. It focuses on the marketing team’s entire pool of resources, from the marketing team and marketing materials (online and offline) to the marketing budget. It also includes cooperation with external vendors, production processes, marketing operations, and digital asset management.
O course, as mentioned above, within a time and budget.
While MRM’s second meaning relates to technology. On technology and software that focuses on helping marketing departments or creative agencies coordinate and consolidate resources. From processes, operations, widely-understanding content production, and workflows to sharing information and files. Everything into a single software system to speed up and continuously optimize marketing project management activities.
Marketing resource management applications enable strategic planning and budgeting, program management, creative development and distribution, content management, media planning and execution, event coordination, and resource measurement. (Gartner.com)
From Gartner’s perspective, marketing resource management is a set of marketing or agency project management software tools that support strategy and workflow optimization within employees, project teams, and organizations. These tools help teams work and centralize marketing projects. From multi-channel marketing campaigns to one-off assets. At the same time, providing an integrated environment for content planning, production, governance, and execution.
1. Creating a pitch – have it all sorted out as part of the journey with marketing resource management
In creating a pitch, focusing on your creative idea is natural. Yet, at the same time, you negotiate over the timeline and the budget of the project. Here’s how to estimate projects more confidently so you’re less likely to go over budget later.
Find resources you may need
Based on the project’s scope, you can tell whom you will need to deliver a project skill-wise.
One way to move forward is to create a skills matrix so you can map the competencies required for a project. Now, find employees with such competencies so you are sure that your company has enough resources to deliver what you promise in your pitch or RFP. Resource planning tools with filters allowing to find employees by their skills make it much quicker.
Forecast the availability of your marketing resources
When you know which employees you need to book for your project, resource forecasting and capacity planning will let you:
- Check whether the resources you need are available over the timeframe of your project.
- Schedule resources for your project.
- Find out if your bookings don’t interfere with the production pipeline of your agency.
Tentative bookings make it easier for you to schedule resources you will need without actually hogging them. At the same time, you notify other producers that you may need given resources so they can consider that factor when planning.
It also works the other way around. If you see that another person already has the marketing resources you need, you can negotiate with them and potentially figure out a solution that satisfies you both.
Create a project budget.
Knowing who you need and for how long, you can estimate a budget with better accuracy. This way, you’re less likely to overschedule your team to meet the timeline and run over budget.
At the same time, accurate estimation and budgeting will make it easier to forecast agency revenue and decide whether this project is profitable for your agency or not.
2. You won a project for your agency – now what? (The role of marketing resource management)
Let’s discuss how you can make use of marketing resource management once you’ve started a new project or as you run an ongoing one.
Track the time and save time on marketing resource management processes
Whether you use time and material or fixed price, you have to track the billable time your employees spent on the project so you know if the project meets the budget.
To make timesheets reliable and make the most of team time tracking, you must ensure that your employees will fill them in regularly. If your timesheets stay accurate, you can confidently conclude them and use time entries for your reports.
Manage entire marketing team, full-time employees, virtual teams, and freelancers
Creative agencies don’t always rely solely on full-time employees. Managing part-time employees or freelancers, especially in a remote team, may be tricky, but you can overcome it with marketing resource management.
With a bird’s-eye view of your employee’s schedule (resource schedule), it’s easier to balance their workload. While changing the timeline, shifting priorities, etc., you need to ensure that none of your team members is under or over-utilized, as it may lead to employee burnout or turnover.
Marketing resource management is not only about employees
Running a project, you may very often need to include not only the employees but equipment or workspaces, too. If that’s the case for your project, the rules of resource allocation apply accordingly.
First, decide which marketing and agency project management tools, equipment, or workspaces you need. Then, find out if they are available during your project’s timeframe and schedule them when you need them. Ideally—just like with your employees—you should have an overview of resources’ use across your agency so you can see when they are available or when they are booked for other projects.
Measure and report – the reasons for efficient marketing resource management
Since the project’s scope, timeline, or deliverables may change, you must constantly keep track of the project and re-assign your resources accordingly. To do that, you need an easy way to track and measure your team’s performance and resource utilization.
Keeping an eye on different metrics will help you stay on top even if changes occur. A way to spot employees’ under or over-utilization early on is to monitor whether their bookings or timesheets exceed one’s availability. In Teamdeck, it’s super easy – you can see it right away by looking at Timesheets/Availability and Bookings/Availability bars. If they are red, it’s a clear signal that a given employee has too much on their plate.
You can also create reports to control employee utilization or the budget. In this case, time entries and employee bookings come in handy, as based on these data, you can quickly calculate your team’s performance or project’s budget.
Teamdeck reports enable marketers to keep track of different metrics and KPIs of their choosing, and easily share them with their teams or a client.
3. Plan future marketing initiatives and projects with confidence
Last but not least, marketing resource management gives you an opportunity to better plan and estimate future projects. A helicopter view of your pipeline, available resources, their current utilization, and time tracked by your employees comes in handy here. You simply see whether there’s room for a new project in your production pipeline.
Analyze historical data to spot patterns that proved to be detrimental to your past projects. Perhaps you tend to underestimate the design phase or there’s often an overload of tasks during the vacation season. Understanding these shortcomings helps you avoid them in future projects.
How project managers benefit from marketing resource management
As you’ve learned in this article, marketing resource management may be beneficial to producers and creative agencies in many ways. Let’s sum it up with a list of benefits of marketing resource management:
- As a producer, you gain full visibility of the projects you’re working on, available resources, and your team’s workload.
- You can balance the workload effectively for all your team members, including remote ones and freelancers.
- You may reduce the risk of missing deadlines and going over budget.
- The visibility of available resources improves the collaboration between you and other producers at your agency.
- You have a better overview of your production pipeline.
- It’s easier for you to create your project’s report.
If you want to make the most of marketing resource management, you need to make sure that it’s a consistent process followed regularly at your agency.
Looking for software for marketing resource management?
Hill-Knowlton, Wunderman Thompson, and Circus Maximus have selected Teamdeck.io – the resource management for creative agencies.