Ian Fleming created the character James Bond in the 1953 novel Casino Royale. The ensuing film franchise started with Dr. No in 1962. Bond, an officer of the British secret intelligence service MI6, has been the go-to-guy when the mission was dangerous, the women were beautiful, and the cars were fast. Fortunately, you don’t need Agent 007 to have visibility into all of your marketing initiatives.
Still, marketing organizations need accurate and reliable information to make informative decisions. This is particularly true in creative environments, where the need includes both quantitative and qualitative information. CMOs--the James Bonds of their organizations--who leverage solutions that capture better information are able to keep an accurate pulse on marketing projects and make proactive decisions.
With a little bit of “persuasion,” Bond usually gets the information he needs. While marketing leaders aren't responsible for the safety of the free world, their need for information is paramount in its own right, and they face a couple of challenges that even 007’s “persuasive” powers can’t help:
- Capturing information at the source: Most work management methodologies focus on planning and solving problems at the management or executive level (the traditional top-down, command-and-control management approach). Unfortunately, this makes capturing accurate information about marketing projects difficult because writers and designers chafe at unrealistic deadlines that are pushed down from above. Additionally, they are compelled to use management software that is difficult and cumbersome to use and adds no value to their work.
- Capturing the whole story: Traditional management solutions don’t capture much more than simple status updates. However, the most significant way to improve the value of project and campaign data is to capture more qualitative information. Unfortunately, most solutions designed to manage work don’t facilitate or encourage the capture of that type of information.
The Problem With Traditional Project Management
In a report commissioned by AtTask and conducted by Forrester Research, bottom-up operational reporting was identified as three times more accurate than traditional top-down monitoring for informing decisions. What’s more, missing or inaccurate information about time utilization/project progress was identified as a significant contributor to financial waste.
It’s difficult to convince designers, writers, and other creatives to use work management software because traditional approaches produce:
- Software tools that are difficult and cumbersome to use;
- An overly structured management environment that creative teams dislike; and
- Limited value to designers, writers, and other creative team members.
Because creative teams don’t or won’t use them, traditional approaches ultimately result in information that marketing leaders can’t trust. Successfully creating an environment where visibility is the norm requires us to realize that people are more willing to contribute valuable, accurate, and timely information--giving marketing leaders greater visibility--if their solutions address the following three needs: empowerment, recognition and confidence.
Workers want ownership and flexibility regarding their deliverables and deadlines. A more team-centric work assignment model enables creative teams to contribute to the establishment of benchmarks and time lines, while creating a greater sense of responsibility among team members.
The people closest to the work understand it the best. Nowhere is this more accurate than a marketing department’s creative team. By engaging team members in project plans, marketing leaders promote an environment where individuals take ownership over priorities and commitments. When the people working in creative teams make public commitments, take ownership, and prioritize their own work, marketing leaders are able to capture accurate and timely information they can trust.
Creative people take a lot of pride in their work and care about what their managers and peers think about them and their accomplishments. Marketing organizations that facilitate the recognition of individual team member accomplishments and contributions foster an environment where team members are more inclined to participate and provide the information needed by leaders to make informed decisions.
It’s really people, not technology, who ensure the success of any marketing initiative. When organizations focus on people, they foster discussion, highlight accomplishments, and keep everyone engaged.
Marketing leaders consume all kinds of information about their projects. Conversational, or qualitative, information provides deeper insight into real project status. Leveraging solutions that facilitate free-form conversations around work assignments capture better information to help keep an accurate pulse on their initiatives and make more proactive decisions.
The most significant factor to improving the accuracy of information is to capture more qualitative information. It’s critical to create a constant flow of conversational information, providing frequent and more descriptive updates to deliver greater visibility and a richer understanding of the real story. Qualitative information flowing upward gives marketing leaders the ability to follow conversations on relevant initiatives and gives them confidence that they have the real story.
Providing value to everyone on the team.
CMOs need trustworthy, relevant information to make well-informed decisions and successfully lead their organizations. Enabling a transparent environment where everyone’s work contributions are visible to peers and managers provides CMOs and other marketing leaders a more accurate pulse of what’s going on within their organizations. Capturing qualitative information at the source provides context to project data. When asked what would most improve data accuracy for project/time tracking, the leading measure for improving data accuracy, according to Forrester’s findings, was identified as “capturing more qualitative information.”
Creative team leaders need a voluntary, free flow of information from team members to effectively lead marketing initiatives. The Forrester findings suggest that the general acceptance and use of social media among managers (65%) reinforces the case for implementing a more social process. Three-fourths of managers and team members view missing or inaccurate information about project progress as a significant contributor to financial waste. Forrester’s findings indicate that management visibility and project status clarification are of great value. Giving peers and managers more visibility into performance and giving team members the means to clarify project status more clearly was deemed of high value by study respondents.
Fostering a more collaborative environment that facilitates a voluntary flow of accurate and timely information enables creative leaders to more effectively lead their teams.
Marketing creatives are not project management experts. What’s more, according to Forrester, 40% of managers indicate that team members are dissatisfied with their current tools.
Although managers believe their teams’ accomplishments are being adequately recognized, team members generally feel that their managers are out of touch regarding their contributions and value. In Forrester's report, more than 40% reported a lack of recognition by their managers, and more than 60% by executive management. Peer commentary was seen as highly valuable in the workplace, and when study respondents were asked about what would make them most interested in investing in a project management solution, 50% indicated, “The software makes everyone’s work contributions transparent to peers and managers.”
Empowering team members with input into how their work is planned, giving them ownership of their deliverables, and enabling them to share conversational information about their work was identified by Forrester as the most valuable and unrealized catalyst to achieving high performance.
Engaging marketing teams with a solution that helps capture accurate and up-to-date information that can be trusted for making informed decisions is critical. If you are successful, you might even find yourself sitting back in your chair and softly whispering, “Bond, James Bond.”