Monday, November 26, 2007

Digital Marketing PMO

Technological advances have changed the way businesses operate. We communicate with colleagues and customers via email, voicemail and video conferencing; we manage customer relationships through CRM databases; we execute purchasing transactions via e-Commerce websites; and we market products and services using the Internet and other Web Technologies.

Marketing organizations are wisely incorporating the Internet and other digital technologies into their marketing campaigns. This requires their ad agencies to submit marketing proposals incorporating interactive and digital marketing communications to reach customers. The agencies are also required to manage the development and execution of not only the creative aspects of the proposal, but also the technical aspects of the proposal.

Because of this, agencies are faced with challenge of integrating the fluid process of creativity with the structured process of technical development. Fortunately, good agencies are have been able to manage this daunting tasks – but not without challenges.

Typically, clients have competing priorities, changing requirements, short delivery deadlines, and limited budgets. It can be difficult for agencies to meet client budget, schedule, and quality requirements while maximizing agency profit under such constant change. The way to do this is to establish standard approaches and guidelines using a Project Management Office.

Sonia Kay of e-consultancy has published research findings that acknowledge the benefits of establishing a Project Management Office to successfully manage web projects. You can download Sonia's Published results here. Sonia Kay highlights the Top 10 Key Findings of existing web projects:

1. Nearly half of all respondents do not have a structured approach to managing their web projects.

2. Budgets and deadlines are difficult to control

3. Web projects are integrated with the rest of the business less than half of the time, and customer satisfaction is hard to achieve

4. Teams know that their requirements will change during the course of the project but yet they struggle to deal with it when it actually happens

5. Excellent project management is considered crucial to project success, but project management methods are not valued, and many organizations don’t use qualified project managers.

6. Web projects are different from other projects.

7. Successful organizations have a structured approach to projects, and know how to apply a range of project management methods which can be tailored to the circumstances.

8. Successful organizations think strategically but deliver tactically.

9. In successful organizations collaboration is built into the process from the very top of the organization down.

10. Excellent project management is as much about managing the environment as it is about managing the process.

These finding suggests that managing web projects could be improved with the right strategy and approach lead by an establish PMO. Unfortunately, many marketing executives believe that leading creative talent using a structured Project Management approach would interfere with the creative process necessary in advertising. As Steven L. Miller stated in his article, “Project Management Office Provides Better Marketing Results,” marketing organizations must “strike a balance between the prescribed project management methods and avoiding interruption of creative development.”

Considering the fact that in Digital Agencies, the project manager must work with the creative team, Information Architect, system engineers, database engineers, usability team, Online Media group, content developers, product managers, marketing managers, other supporting agencies and an array of other teams who have inputs to Web Projects, its understandable that priorities and requirements undergo significant change.

The Agile Project Management methodology supports Digital and Interactive Web projects experiencing constant change because it is “adaptive” – Meaning that the process easily adapts to changing demands. Using the Agile methodology, requirement changes are welcomed, face-to-face communication is preferred, teams are self-organized, business teams and technical teams work together, and results are delivered iteratively and frequently.

Implementing an all or none methodology would not result in a successful Marketing PMO. However, embracing a simplistic project management approach tailored to fit the needs of the agency would certainly increase efficiencies, increase client satisfaction, and possibly widen profit margins. The structured approach in digital and interactive agencies would align stakeholder goals, encourage collaboration, and increase efficiencies and a tailored agile methodology supports marketing PMO.

In an Interactive Agency where end customers are the primary focus, Agency executives are also finding that building a PMO to establish processes, methodologies, tools, and templates have become a necessity to management client driven Digital and Interactive projects.