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by Eileen O'Loughlin,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: October 13, 2016

In the digital economy, marketers need to be just as agile as software developers, engineers and other traditional users of project management (PM) software.

PM software enables a fast-paced yet coordinated approach to the creative work involved in marketing. Without a centralized PM solution, the time it takes to produce marketing assets can swell enormously, giving competitors room to swoop in.

We’ve written this guide to answer the following questions that you may have about marketing project management tools:

(Click on a link below to jump to that section.)

What Is Marketing Project Management Software?
What Are the Benefits of Marketing Project Management Tools?
What Type of Buyer Are You?
What Are the Features of Marketing PM Software?
What Are Some Examples of Marketing PM Software?

What Is Marketing Project Management Software?

PM software is widely used in software development, industrial R&D, construction and a host of other industries.

Many marketing departments, however, still operate without a PM solution, relying instead on spreadsheets and email.

Some marketers may feel that the creative work they do is just too messy for a unified approach to project management. However, this messiness is precisely why marketing departments need improved collaboration and project visibility.

Overview of projects in Basecamp

Overview of projects in Basecamp, a popular PM solution for marketing departments

By utilizing PM software and achieving the efficiencies that come with doing so, you can begin moving your whole department toward greater agility, effectiveness and accountability.

What Are the Benefits of Marketing Project Management Tools?

Marketing PM software offers the following benefits:

Marketing project management software benefits

Some all-purpose PM solutions work well for marketing departments. There are also purpose-built platforms designed uniquely for marketers. The type of marketing department you work in should guide your choice of one type over the other.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

When it comes to project management, there are two basic types of marketing departments, each with very different needs.

Creative and marketing agencies need PM software to handle projects for clients. These buyers typically benefit from purpose-built marketing PM platforms, since those solutions offer functionality built exclusively with the marketer in mind.

Essentially, purpose-built marketing PM software aligns project management with customer relationship management, financial management and media buying.

Marketing and creative agencies don’t just need to optimize their own operations; they also need to collaborate more effectively with their clients and contractors. Purpose-built solutions are specifically designed to address these needs.

In-house marketing departments primarily need to manage workflows, approvals, timelines and resources. Their needs are more basic than marketing and creative agencies, so they can tyipcally get by with all-purpose PM solutions that are also used by IT teams, product R&D teams and a host of other business units.

What Are the Features of Marketing PM Software?

Per the discussion above, the features of a PM solution tend to vary based on whether that solution is a "general purpose" tool, or one customized for marketing professionals.

We’ll look at features that benefit all marketing teams first, and then we’ll move on to features in purpose-built solutions for agencies.

The most basic features of PM software, such as to-do lists, email style conversation “threads,” real-time messaging and Gantt charts for project planning, can be found in most of the robust PM solutions on the market.

Marketing thread in Wrike

Marketing thread in Wrike

Marketing project management features that are useful for both in-house teams and agencies include:

Marketing PM Features for Both In-House and Agency Marketing Teams

Marketing resource management Shows which human and technological resources are available for a particular project and enables users to forecast what their pipelines will look like.
Request management Allows departments to manage and prioritize requests for marketing assets from clients or other departments in the business.
Task management Keeps creatives focused on the task at hand via to-do lists and reminder notifications.
Approval workflow management Standardizes processes requiring approvals, such as creative briefs, purchase orders and editing workflows.
Budget and expense management Tracks expenses by employee, item, business unit, task etc. in order to ensure projects stay within budget.
User-specific views and permissions Gives each user a personalized overview of their projects and tasks. Managers can also control which users see which tasks and conversations.
Document sharing and management Enables version history control so that agencies can track changes and document sharing to facilitate collaboration with clients and contractors.

Marketing project management features specifically intended for agencies are rarer than the all-purpose features we’ve just covered, and remain the province of specialized vendors.

Some of the most important agency-oriented features include:

Agency-Specific Marketing PM Features

Customer management Allows agencies to track prospects and convert them into clients.
Client invoicing Integrates with accounting and financial management software to add details to client invoices.
Client reporting Keeps clients up to speed on the details of services rendered.
Media buying and billing Integrates with media buying solutions to place ads, and then invoices clients accordingly.
Accounts receivable aging Shows which clients need to pay up.
Timesheet tracking Tracks billable hours for employees and freelancers.

Client invoicing in Scoro

Client invoicing in Scoro

What Are Some Examples of Marketing PM Software?

Popular solutions for creative and marketing agencies as well as in-house marketing teams include:

  • Wrike. Wrike offers many of the features that agency buyers need, such as accounting integration for client invoicing.
  • Scoro. Scoro is another good solution for agency buyers thanks to robust CRM features for managing and retaining clients.
  • Basecamp. A good solution for in-house teams in particular, Basecamp is a competitively-priced solution with a simple and straightforward user interface.
  • WorkBook. WorkBook includes a number of resource management features that allow agencies to track progress against the prices they’ve quoted to clients.

There are many, many more project management solutions on the market that are suitable for marketing teams, so you may need some assistance in whittling down your list. Fortunately, we’re here to help.

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