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Project Management

Eight tools to create project plans and deliver marketing success

Anyone with a business strives for success, but not everyone systematically implements the project plan tools readily available to assist with marketing. This may be because many of the resources seem too academic or perhaps it’s the sheer volume of information which is daunting. Jainita Khatri highlights eight tools which can be used to create a solid project plan, helping create the strategic backbone for marketing success.

For project plans to produce the desired results they need to integrate, support and inform marketing strategy, development and direction. A project plan can be made up of one or more of the following business tools, which include matrices and models to help identify almost every aspect of a business, from brand purpose, role players and actions to insights, competitors and company growth.

  1. Project charter

“If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect to get there?” – Basil S. Walsh

Creating a project charter is recommended for someone in project management who needs to identify, get buy-in, track and measure a specific project. It outlines the:

  • Breadth of the project
  • Goals
  • Who is involved and their responsibilities?

A project charter should:

Encapsulate the project’s purpose

Keep the people involved on the same page

Be a contract between the project sponsor, key stakeholders and the project team

Smartsheet.com has useful templates available for free download in Word or Excel.

  1. Project plan

“Plans are useless, but planning is essential.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

While a project charter is an overview of a project, often to get buy-in and approval for the framework, a project plan works on the approved structure and framework of the charter.

Bright Hub Project Management outlines the following points on how a project plan assists with the specific detail of executing, managing and controlling:

  • Project value proposition
  • People involved and their responsibilities
  • Business structure
  • What needs to be done
  • Phases, activities and tasks
  • Identification of the work breakdown structure (WBS)
  • Allocation of resources
  • Timelines and milestones or critical path schedule (CPS)
  • Documentation of project inter-dependencies

There are various ways to create a project plan, but the traditional Microsoft Project templates always work effectively, or explore the option of using a free Gantt chart template.

  1. Project plan scope triangle

“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” – Theophrastus

The scope triangle has been used in project training programmes for over 25 years and is a useful tool to use when looking at the three primary forces of a project as well as if, when and where, a trade-off between them is necessary:

  • Time
  • Quality
  • Cost

As Nick Jenkins, from Project Smart, says, “The best project managers will juggle all three like hot potatoes and will make decisions every day which effectively trade-off time versus quality versus resources.”

  1. Ansoff’s Matrix

“Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet.” – Henry Mintzberg

This strategic planning tool dates back to the 1960s and is named after its creator, Russian American mathematician and business manager, Harry Igor Ansoff, also known as the “father of strategic management”.

The Matrix is based on Ansoff’s definition of product-market strategy as being: “A joint statement of a product line and the corresponding set of missions which the products are designed to fulfil.” Within the axis of existing/new markets and existing/new products are:

  • Market penetration
  • Market development
  • Product development
  • Diversification

The benefit of using Ansoff’s Matrix (also known as the product/market expansion grid) is that it can be used to, as MindTools explains, “identify alternative growth strategies by looking at present and potential products in current and future markets”.

  1. The Boston Matrix

“The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get.” – Jim Rohn

The Boston Matrix uses the axes of relevant market share in relation to relevant market growth to chart portfolios within a business, defined as:

  • Dogs: Products with low growth or market share
  • Question marks or problem children: Products in high growth markets with low market share
  • Stars: Products in high growth markets with high market share
  • Cash cows: Products in low growth markets with high market share

I’ve included this matrix as it is useful for companies with separate business units or diverse products, but as Strategic Management Insights points out, the following steps must be used:

  • Choose the unit
  • Define the market
  • Calculate relative market share
  • Find out the market growth rate
  • Draw the circles on a matrix
  1. Gartner’s Hype Cycles

“Realistically, the world (and the technology) aren’t quite ready for autonomous flying taxis.” – Kasey Panetta

Unlike most of the tools on this list, Gartner’s Hype Cycles positions us firmly in the 21st century. It’s described as, “A graphic representation of the maturity and adoption of technologies and applications, and how they are potentially relevant to solving real business problems and exploiting new opportunities.” But, more simply put, it’s positioning your product or business within a technology curve of expectation and time to see where it is/isn’t potentially relevant to the marketplace.

Gartner’s project tool drills down into the five key phases of a technology’s life cycle:

  • Innovation trigger
  • Peak of inflated expectations
  • Trough of disillusionment
  • Slope of enlightenment
  • Plateau of productivity.

Which – as they explain – helps to “separate the hype from the real”.

  1. System development life cycle (SDLC)

“Operations keeps the lights on, strategy provides a light at the end of the tunnel, but project management is the train engine that moves the organisation forward.” – Joy Gumz

Over the last 15 years I have consciously or unconsciously used the SDLC model in many projects, including helping start-ups with business plans, building marketing strategies, supporting change management and of course, developing IT solutions. This simple model is a method in defining the steps in the project plan though there are various other tools.

The SDLC, also known as the application development life cycle, describes the process (often used in IT and systems) for planning, creating, testing, and deploying a process or information system.

There are six key stages in the SDLC cycle:

  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Development and testing
  • Implementation
  • Documentation
  • Evaluation

An additional note on the importance of this from Innovative Architects: “The life cycle approach of any project is a time-consuming process. Even though some steps are more difficult than others, none are to be overlooked. An oversight could prevent the entire system from functioning as planned.”

  1. Bespoke project planning tools

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” – Joel Barker

We also create bespoke project planning tools based on our experience as well as specific client needs.

  • Prana Business Flow Pyramid
  • B2B marketing model
  • Digital marketing flowchart
  • Marketing to moms model