“As a marketer, having many projects running simultaneously is quite normal and each project has its own priority.”
Your marketing projects could be large, such as managing an online marketing campaign, developing a new website, working through a re-brand or managing the ongoing implementation of marketing communications plan (to name a few).
Project management tools and processes should be a marketer's best friend and one such tool that every marketer appreciates is a good Gantt chart.
Not every project requires a Gantt chart, however, those that are a little more involved definitely benefit from having one and we explore the relevance and importance of Gantt charts today.
Why should I use a Gantt chart for marketing projects?
Clarity: it helps you map out your project steps
The main benefit I find, is that developing a Gantt chart helps me to stop and really think about what I am trying to tackle, from start to finish.
In this fast paced marketing world, we can get overwhelmed by everything that is happening around us. With digital marketing we have so much at our fingertips that it is easy to fall into the trap of being reactive (and potentially inefficient).
Developing a Gantt chart is like a form of meditation, it allows you to stop, make a cup of tea, take a deep breath and really consider what is involved in the project that you are going to tackle.
Understanding what is involved in the project that you are managing, allows you to clearly communicate what is involved in the project to major stakeholders.
Your stakeholders don’t have to understand what is involved at every step, however, your Gantt chart will highlight or educate stakeholders on the processes that they may not have previously been aware of.
Meetings and project communications
There is nothing worse than attending a meeting with no detailed brief, with no purpose or with the project team not being prepared and bringing their thoughts to the table.
Having a Gantt chart (once in project) helps to eliminate these issues and gives people an opportunity to give input if something is required that may be missing from the Gantt.
Once the project is moving, updating your Gantt can also reduce the time spent in meetings with your project team and can also keep the project team meeting on track and the conversations relevant to what is required.
Although a Gantt chart doesn’t show a critical path in its entirety, a good project manager will understand the critical path and keep project meetings on point to achieve the next milestone highlighted on the Gantt chart.
Managing the project snippets and winning!
Thinking about an entire project can be overwhelming for some people and they can quickly lose motivation, however, with a Gantt chart you can see the individual project snippets that need to be achieved in the short, medium and long term.
Simply understanding that a few items need to be completed by the end of next month can keep everyone motivated to chip away at the overall project. What’s the old saying, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”…but its all of the parts being completed that ultimately make the whole and keep your team motivated!
A creative approach
Understanding a timeline (especially when it’s tight) can help a team to think creatively about the approach and can encourage new partnerships and collaborations that may not have evolved without project visibility.
This could lead to the ‘new way of doing things’, meaning that your Gantt chart can help foster a dynamic culture.
Marketing campaigns in particular have very critical timeframes. Often media is purchased, production for advertising (such as photography or video) has been booked and there are many moving parts.
A Gantt chart can help you to keep to your project schedule, reminding you as to what needs to be delivered by when.
Limitations of a Gantt chart
Although Gantt charts are great, they are not the only tool you should use for managing your projects. Gantt charts have their limitations such as:
They can become extraordinarily complex
The size of the bar does not indicate the amount of work
They need to be constantly updated
Difficult to see on one sheet of paper
Other marketing project tools
To overcome the above issues as well as issues of flexibility as a full service marketing agency we all use other tools that help to empower us (namely SaaS based solutions) such as Basecamp for project management, Google Sheets for WIP documents, Trello for ideation, Paydirt for time tracking and centralised file management tools.
We ultimately have a comprehensive suite of tools that help us to manage the many marketing projects and online communications and campaigns, however, the above tools are enough to keep you on track as a marketer.