Working in a digital marketing agency (or really any company in any industry), you come to understand that the success of a project lives or dies by the quality of your project management.
Project management methodologies offer a clear roadmap that will keep you on track and under budget. That way your team can deliver a project not only successfully, but efficiently.
There are different types of project management methodologies you can choose from that will ensure your digital marketing project stays on track. Keep reading to learn more about which project management approach may work best for you.
What is Project Management?
Project management provides a framework for delivering completed projects. It is the planning, performing, and finishing of certain tasks and goals for a campaign or project.
The main objectives of project management are producing specific outputs, called deliverables. The work is divided into project management phases, which allow for easier collaboration, better coordination, and more efficient delivery of project work.
For example, within our agency project management is used to manage multiple marketing activities and campaigns, including:
- PPC (pay per click)
- SEO (search engine optimization)
- Email marketing
- CRO (conversion rate optimization)
- Content marketing
- Website redesigns
- Rebranding strategies
- Product launches and creative campaigns
For project management to be successful, there must be a project manager to lead in planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and closing out projects. The project manager is responsible for the entire scope of the project, the project team and resources, as well as the project budget and timeline.
Every project manager takes control of a project differently. Depending on their unique qualities, they will select a style and a project management methodology that suits their personality and the personality of their team.
Every successful project management process depends heavily on the strength of the project manager, and learning how to be a good project manager starts with knowing which type you are.
The 4 Types of Project Managers
Wondering what type of project manager you are? There are 4 main types of project managers that all work differently to accomplish goals. Each type has its strengths and weaknesses, but all types work efficiently in their own unique way to launch a successful project. Let’s explore each one further.
1. Technical Project Manager
The technical project manager has complete command over all project management practices. Technical project managers have great attention to detail, analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as, critical thinking and decision-making capabilities. A technical project manager is successful because their team trusts their expertise and looks to them as an authority.
2. Adventurous Project Manager
Adventurous project managers are those that believe the bigger the risk, the higher the reward. They are always looking for new opportunities and ground-breaking ideas. However, while they take risks, they still stay inside strategic boundaries. An adventurous project manager is successful because they are able to see and share the bigger picture and get the team to buy into the excitement.
3. Expert Project Manager
Expert project managers are experienced and knowledgeable. These managers focus on reliable data and are masters of executing different project management methodologies to perfection. They turn business opportunities into financial results thanks to their years of experience and hard work. The expert project manager is successful because the team can depend on their in-depth knowledge and experience to guide them through the process as well as learn from their expertise in project management.
4. Supportive Project Manager
The supportive project manager believes in motivation and delegation. They focus on uninterrupted communication, smooth team collaboration, and boosting morale. Working closely with team members, they ensure everyone has a role to play. The supportive project manager is successful because they are able to get everyone involved and working together, which leads to the entire team gaining experience and skills.
Types of Project Management Methodologies
As you begin your research into project management methodologies, you’ll quickly learn that there are several popular project management approaches:
- Agile – This methodology is collaborative, quick, and open to data-driven change. It involves short phases of work with frequent testing, reassessment, and adaptation throughout the process.
- Scrum – This methodology splits work into short cycles (often called sprints) which usually last 1-2 weeks. Each small team is led by a Scrum master, which is different from the project manager.
- Kanban – This methodology visually represents tasks on a Kanban board. Each column on the board represents a stage in the process, and tasks are shown as they progress through columns.
- Six Sigma – This methodology puts an emphasis on ensuring consistency in output and impeccable quality. It aims to eliminate defects and reduce variation.
- Waterfall – Waterfall is considered the traditional project management methodology. The tasks and phases are completed in a linear, sequential order. Each stage must be completed before moving on to the next one.
- Lean – This methodology applies lean business principles to project management methods. This maximizes value and minimizes waste. The 3Ms (Muda or waste, Mura or unevenness, and Muri or overburden), represent waste in this method.
- Prince2 – This methodology aims to equip project managers with knowledge of the best practices and processes. It is guided by 7 principles that dictate 7 different processes.
- XP – This methodology is designed for software development and emphasizes teamwork and collaboration among managers, customers, and developers. It consists of a set of rules based on its five values.
Which one is best? Choosing the right approach can be difficult because of the wide variety of types of project management approaches.
And while all methods have advantages and disadvantages, we have found that the Waterfall method is best when it comes to digital marketing project management because of its structure and extensive documentation.
The Best Project Management System for Marketing: The Waterfall Approach
The waterfall method is a sequential, linear process that consists of several discrete phases. No phase can begin until the prior phase is complete. In addition, each phase’s completion is terminal. This means you cannot return to a previous phase once you have moved on to the next one.
The Pros of Waterfall Project Management
The Waterfall project management approach has many advantages. First and foremost, it is easy to manage and understand. Extensive documentation allows you to see progress clearly.
The documentation also means that knowledge stays in the organization and makes training simple. You don’t have to try and infer what someone was going to do next, it is already written out for you.
The Waterfall approach also allows team members to better plan their time, so they know what they need to do and when they need to do it. Lastly, it benefits the person receiving the results, because they will know exactly what to expect.
Using the Waterfall project management approach, you can segment your marketing projects into easy-to-execute project management phases.
Putting It Into Practice: Creating Project Management Phases
Project management phases are key to creating a successful project. Understanding and following these phases will help you to stay on track and successfully accomplish your goals. When choosing the Waterfall approach, there are six phases to progress through:
- Discovery / Scope – The scope of a project outlines all aspects of the project in detail. This includes activities, resources, timelines, and deliverables. The scope also covers the key stakeholders, processes, assumptions, and constraints.
- Design – The design phase of a project is usually broken up into two subphases: logical design and physical design. The logical design consists of brainstorming and theorizing possible solutions. In terms of deliverables, the logical phase typically takes the form of a mood board. The physical design puts those theoretical concepts into concrete practices and provides additional deliverables like design compositions
- Development – The development of the project happens when programmers incorporate the requirements and specifications that were created in the design phase into actual code. This includes building out the structure as well as the functionalities required by the project, including adding in content marketing and SEO strategies.
- Test – The test phase is used to evaluate the final version of the developed project. During this phase, the documentation from all the previous phases is finalized to align with the delivered project. This is also where the project manager and team will decide if the project is ready to be launched.
- Launch – The launch phase occurs when the project team is ready to set the project into motion and share it with the client or the world
- Review – The review phase includes the project managers comparing the actual project budget, timeline, and goals to their original projections. Depending on the results, project managers may choose to adjust schedules or adjust processes to keep future projects on track.
The Cons of Waterfall Project Management
While there are many advantages to the Waterfall approach, there are also disadvantages. The main con to this approach is that there is no going back; the completion of a phase is terminal.
In addition, there’s the pressure of making the final deadline. Since the timeline is so strict, falling behind on one task means falling behind on every task. There isn’t much flexibility or room for error.
Since there are some disadvantages to the Waterfall method, we recommend creating your own hybrid project management approach and adding agility. Doing this allows for more flexibility than a strict Waterfall approach, but still benefits you with that clear structure and documentation of expectations.
Hybrid Project Management Concepts: Adding Agility
It’s not uncommon for organizations to adopt a standard project management methodology based on the unique way their team operates. Or, even more likely, they will combine several methodologies to create a hybrid concept.
A disadvantage of the Waterfall approach is that it can be too rigid and not quickly adaptable. This rigidity can be a drawback when working in digital marketing where scope revisions can come at any time. For that reason, it’s key to develop a Waterfall / Agile hybrid of methodologies.
The key to figuring out how to be a good project manager is learning how to cater to the needs of all stakeholders and knowing when that means being flexible and stepping outside of the Waterfall model. Being flexible gives freedom to make adjustments that are needed for unique requests or scenarios.
Agile methods focus on adding, testing, and tweaking the functionalities of a project. This means you can explore potential changes as development progresses, instead of being tied down to one plan.
All features go through a testing and revision process in weekly or bi-weekly “sprints”. These sprints allow constant collaboration and continuous improvement at every stage of the project.
Putting Your Project Management Approach Into Practice
Once you’ve decided what type of project management approach is best for you and your team, you can begin putting it into practice. When setting up your project management strategy, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Creating an agile waterfall project management strategy can seem overwhelming, but with the right guidelines, it can feel less daunting. Following these guidelines will help ensure your project runs smoothly and is delivered successfully:
- Have a unique scope created for every project. Do not depend on cookie-cutter project scopes. Get creative and develop a new scope for each of your projects to ensure you are determining the best course of action for that specific scenario. A well-thought-out, tailored scope is your best chance at sticking to your timeline, budget, and expectations.
- Create flexible hours for completing the work. Every web redesign marketing project is different. Some may be heavier on design, while others may focus more on development. The same can be said about internet marketing projects – some will need more time spent on SEO, while others need attention on social media efforts. Your hours should reflect your priorities and marketing goals.
- Incorporate project reports. Evaluating every project at the end of each phase or month will help you to measure your progress and avoid issues that can build up over time. You can then make any necessary adjustments to your project to keep it on course.
Putting different types of project management methodologies into practice is hard, but not impossible, especially when you have someone on the outside to help. With the right research, planning, and structure, you can create a project that will no doubt be successful.