If you’re looking for tools to help your teams meet their deadlines, you’re not alone. Marketing departments manage numerous projects and campaigns simultaneously, and keeping them all on schedule is a huge challenge. Teams are so used to being behind on deadlines that it’s often considered normal to miss them. This puts stress on your teams, and the quality of work can suffer.
So what do you do? Here are five things you can do with your project management and digital asset management (DAM) software to help your teams hit their deadlines more often.
1. Start with a project review
What did we do last time? In your next kickoff meeting, use your project management tool to answer this question with real data. There’s no need to start every project from scratch. Revisit whatever you’ve done in the past to identify what worked and what didn’t. This gives your team a running start to hit their next deadline.
A project management tool can give you a look at the process you used and who was involved. Robust project management tools help you set up repeatable actions and workflows based on what you learned. You might even be able to automate a step in the process this time.
A DAM system helps you find the final work you deployed, prior versions of the project, and analytics on how it performed. Apply the right metadata upon upload, and your teams can find assets faster by looking for relevant file information — like description, copyright, and expiration date. Metadata gives essential context to your files.
2. Simplify content review and approval
You emailed the latest creative mockup to seven people for feedback. It’s been three days, the content is now past its production deadline, and you’ve only heard back from two people. Sound familiar?
Don’t worry, it’s possible to get all your decision makers to review and approve your work on time. First, limit the number of rounds of revisions and approvals. Then, identify the key decision makers at each step. Your CMO doesn’t need to be included on every decision that your lead designer makes.
Next, define your content review and approval roles, use your creative briefs to make them visible to everyone involved, and build these roles into your project management tool to eliminate the guesswork. It’s ok if multiple people review projects for different purposes, such as copy, brand, and legal. Just make sure it’s the right people at the right time.
Not sure how to do all of this? Our DAM platform, the Widen Collective®, includes workflow tools that make it easier for you to collaborate, review, and approve project work.
3. Track timelines and progress
Trending topics for social media, market demands, and live events can create new projects on a daily basis. Your team’s priority list could change in every morning marketing meeting, but not everything can be created and delivered immediately. To meet project milestones and stay flexible, it’s crucial to track timelines and progress.
Set your team up for success by establishing realistic project timelines. Just like goals, you can use the SMART framework to set better deadlines. SMART helps you set specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound goals.
A project management tool helps you plan better by setting up stages for the process and identifying timeframes. Some tools are more focused on time tracking and enforcing deadlines. Others help you set realistic timelines based on past project data. Either way, you should have a real-time understanding of your team’s bandwidth to properly plan new work.
4. Store your files in a central location
Your creative process hits a speed bump every time someone can’t get the right files quickly. Imagine your designer looking for the right partner logo or latest product photos in a late-night push to the finish line. If they can’t find the file, that’s the difference between making your project deadline and missing it.
Use a DAM system as the central location for all your files to make it easier to find project assets from kickoff to launch. By applying metadata and organizing it, your files are readily available at every step. Think of it like shopping on an e-commerce site. You search for what you want and filter down to what you need — as long as everything is tagged properly.
A DAM system can also help distribute files outside of the organization. This helps your teams spend less time being the “finder of stuff” for others, and gives them more time to be creative and productive. Features like collections and share links allow teams to give partners or agencies access to commonly requested files, via a simple link. Or, teams can allow external parties to securely access the DAM system to find approved assets on their own.
5. Learn what work is valuable
Who is using my work? And how is it being used? Providing this context helps everyone involved in projects understand how it relates to larger strategies, and feel greater ownership.
Data from a DAM solution provides these kinds of insights, in two key areas. The first is on the performance of the DAM platform. A DAM admin can answer questions like, what terms are people searching? Are people finding files by browsing by category or are they searching and filtering more frequently? These data points can help you optimize the organization and structure of the DAM system to help users quickly find what they’re looking for.
The second key insight is on how the individual content is performing. Was a sales PDF downloaded? Which style of product photography shoots is more popular? How many times was an image viewed via an embed code on your website? This data helps marketers know if they are meeting their project goals.
Equip your teams to meet their next deadline
A perpetual state of missed deadlines and rushed work isn’t healthy — for any team. There’s no need for your projects to suffer from agonizing approval processes, nonexistent project histories, and decentralized file storage. It’s time to work smarter. Take time to listen to the needs of all your teams. Map out how they can work better together. And remember the five tips shared in this article:
- Start with a project review
- Simplify content review and approval
- Track timelines and progress
- Store your files in a central location
- Learn what work was valuable
Then, give your team tools to support cross-team communication and collaboration. Do you use Adobe Creative Cloud, Jira, Box, Trello, or other project management software to get your work done? All of these platforms integrate with the Widen Collective to allow data to automatically sync across workflows.
Learn how project management and DAM platforms can work together to help your teams delivery quality work on time, every time. today.
Note: This article was originally published in August 2017 and has been updated to include additional information.