Email and, more recently, instant messaging (IM) tools such as Slack have formed the central platform of all business communication and also, by extension, creative marketing projects. These are generally accepted uncritically – it’s the way things have always been done, so why the need for change?
To be fair, email and IM are great at what they’re designed to do. Email is a virtually free and thus universally accessible way to allow communication across teams and organizations, while Gchat and Slack are perfect for getting someone’s attention quickly, resolving urgent questions with simple answers or reaching remote team members with speed and convenience.
However, problems can arise when teams rely on these tools to do the heavy lifting of marketing project management, whether that be producing content for an inbound marketing push or scripting a commercial for a national ad campaign. If you too often find yourself trying to fit a square peg in a round hole by assigning and managing creative projects through endless IM channels, you may recognize some of the following limitations of email and IM for task management.
- Locating information is a mess
The standard means of communicating online in marketing project management is to have various task strands or work requests communicated through threads. The problem with these threads is that any reasonably sized marketing department could be dealing with hundreds of threads a week, all with similar participants.
So how do you find something from last month in a hurry when all you remember is that Tom and Jane were also on the thread? Well, you just have to go through all 30 threads you had together. Understandably, this mass confusion is not conducive to either productivity or creativity.
- Missing or duplicate work
Delineating responsibility within a team can often be taken for granted. There’s a kick-off meeting or a weekly status update that lets everyone know where they stand, but what about all the work requests in-between? If an order comes down with four or five people CC’d, who’s responsible? Even worse than everyone dropping the ball is when two people end up doing the same work, directly creating waste.
The fact is that email and IM just aren’t precise enough to allow the speed and accuracy that a modern Agile team requires.
- Distractions and reply dynamics
Having an email alert or IM ping on screen is a standard occurrence in today’s offices, as these programs are generally open on our workstations all day. This can create two unintended issues.
For one thing, it’s nearly impossible to not read a message once we know it’s there, which can cause distractions that interrupt our personal workflow. Secondly, social etiquette would tell us it’s impolite not to reply to someone who’s talking to you, even if they’re not expecting one, so the reply dynamics of messaging also contribute to time spent on things other than what’s important.
The solution: Team collaboration software
For modern marketing departments, there is a much more effective way of collaborating between different team members and within task groups. Specialized project management software, such as that offered by Clarizen, can speed up communication, eliminate waste and distractions and increase productivity.
How does it achieve that? Here are just a few of the advantages of team collaboration software:
Centralized single source of truth
With specialized software, all tasks and project information are located in a single repository accessible by everyone relevant. For example, with Clarizen Go, all tasks are centrally located on individual task boards, which contain relevant information such as Creative Briefs and client material, as well as deadlines and responsibility assignments.
This means that everyone can easily find precisely the information they need without frantically searching through dozens of threads or having to disturb someone else from what they’re doing.
Uniform descriptions of tasks and steps
Having a singular layout and common processes minimizes confusion caused by people talking about tasks in different ways. With discrete workspaces, teams can work exactly how they want by collaborating through a common platform. The uniformity and directness of task descriptions and instructions keep everyone on the same page.
Transparency builds team trust
Having an idea of what’s going on with the organization as a whole is important for employee motivation and for the same reason, knowing what’s happening with the rest of the team or the status of the project is vital for building trust. The transparency of having an open team workspace fosters a spirit of togetherness and improves the trust necessary for effective collaboration.
While email and instant messaging might be sufficient for quick communication, a more comprehensive solution is required for fully organizing and managing your marketing tasks. That’s why Clarizen’s suite of products, and especially Clarizen Go, have been developed to improve the speed and quality of team collaboration. To find out how, why not get in touch to arrange a free demo.