As marketers we live and die by assets: copy, graphics, ideation notes, and dare I say, Excel files for tracking. Looking at the Mad Men days of advertising and right up to the early 2000’s, these assets lived in oversized job jackets that would be shuttled around from approver to approver by interns and secretaries. The sad truth though is that the digital age did little to 180 this paradigm. We still rely on folders to manage assets, but have given them new names like: documents, email, network share drives and even portable flash drives (shudder). Aside from simply being poorly labeled filing cabinets and digital job jackets, these methods are extremely cumbersome, utterly unsecure and generally exacerbate the age-old issue of version control.
Today, assets have grown in complexity (imagine the herculean size of a web redesign job jacket), time to complete projects has been halved, and ROI scrutiny leaves little room for correction when revision 7 hits the presses or PPC channels versus the far more pristine version 8.
Whisper Down the Lane Muddles Messages (And Assets)
There was a game we used to play at camp every summer called “whisper down the lane.” One person would whisper a generally benign message to the individual next to them like “Smurfs are blue.” By the end of the whisper lane it was almost guaranteed that this factual statement would be transformed into something incorrect and generally bawdy.
Your assets are currently much like whisper down the lane in the old style of management. Try sending copy for your latest blog post via email and asking for feedback. You might have one person who edits the email and sends it back to, say half the list, and then another person (who wasn’t on the reply from the last edit) on the chain will put the message in Word with track changes, maybe sending it to the whole group…maybe not. Then there are the few people who don’t respond at all, but will most certainly be up in arms if the assets go live with even a waft of incorrect positioning. In large enough organizations, like ad agencies, where projects fly around fast and furiously for multiple clients, this problem increases ten fold.
Find Your Project Management Zone of Zen
Marketing and advertising project management software like Workzone corrects this problem in one fell swoop by:
- Establishing Clear Workspaces: Let’s face it, most shared folders rarely stay pure or on point. One erroneous drag or incorrect “save as” makes what was once a pristine folder now rife with incorrect files. With Workspaces, which essentially act as the world’s largest filing cabinet with room for infinite job jackets and assets, the project manager or other admins define project partitions at the outset. This method also trumps share folders because leaders and the team get a high level view of all projects at once with clear statuses on dependencies that are being met or sadly falling behind.
- Tasks Trumping Folders Within Folders: Whether you are working on copy or design to complete a campaign, most mar/comm and ad professionals recognize these activities as tasks. Wouldn’t it be grand if folders in Windows or in Mac came with premade labels that made sense to the advertising marketing world? Until that nirvana arrives at the operating system level, Tasks within Workzone are the best alternative for logical organization, editing and versioning. Going back to the job jacket analogy from before, each task can be its own jacket or you can have multiple assets in one task (if it makes sense, just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should).
- Presenting Pure Permissions: Anyone who has ever tried to get access to a network drive or folder of change permissions in Microsoft Sharepoint can attest to the Machiavellian machinations they experience with IT. By the time you submit a ticket, have it assigned to a frontline support desk rep, arrange a time and ultimately VPN in, the project could be halfway or completely finished. With Workzone and other project management solutions, permissions are granted at the outset of the endeavor. Don’t worry, if a new member joins the team, even the most technically challenged admin can easily add newbies to the workspace with an email address and the touch of a button.Also, permissions are completely customized to ensure only the right people are going in and performing markups. Sometimes, it’s a benefit to have copy writers look over a piece of art, many times though it’s not.
- Masterfully Managing Markups: Designers will be the first to attest that changes to design can be an exercise in utter confusion. Software to mark up assets can come with costly license prices, while using MS Office is cumbersome and never quite hits the perfect pixel mark. With marketing and advertising project management software, markup to a design piece is all collected on the same version of the asset by all stakeholders. In addition, intuitive controls allow for drag and circle commenting on every facet of the piece. This gives the designer a chance to imbibe every comment from every stakeholder before uploading the next revision.
Sounds Great, but We Really Love Email and Spreadsheets
Despite the blatant efficiencies offered by project management solutions, naysayers will always be plentiful. That’s OK, because the right solution won’t abandon those tools, but rather work seamlessly with them. If your team can’t abandon email, solutions like Workzone will seamlessly let users hit reply and then collect the conversation inside a project workspace for all to see.
For the Excel enthusiast that simply won’t let go, project management software will allow for easy import and export of information, or in the worst-case scenario, it will ensure everyone on the project is looking at the right spreadsheet.
As multi-channel marketing becomes a business necessity, marketing groups and ad agencies must find new ways to manage the multitude of assets that will be generated. The old ways will no longer suffice from quality and reporting standpoints. Project management software ensures both the delivery of the best final asset and crystal clear visibility into all project touch points (no matter how complex).