Until recently, I had never heard the PRINCE2® method mentioned in the context of marketing; now I have, I realize that many of my previous challenges were a project management issue.
In the past few years, marketing has seen a transition from offline to online/digital campaigns and the role of the marketing manager has changed in tandem.
The large web projects I’ve worked on in the past – including radical restructuring, new functionality and the development of extensive new content – have been demanding on both time and resources. And while these web projects can be satisfying to work on and career enhancing, they can also be incredibly challenging and stressful.
Having now certified in PRINCE2, I’ve come to understand the concept of “scope change” – here an increasing number of stakeholders get involved, pieces of information come to light and new product features or functions can even be requested during a project. The obstacles this can create increases the pressure and makes it difficult to achieve a successful end result.
The project management cross-over between marketing and working with IT departments on web projects would also have been much easier in the past with PRINCE2 principles, bringing closely aligned ways of working and a shared language in which to communicate.
PRINCE2 in a marketing context
All the seven principles of the PRINCE2 method come into play for marketing activities:
- Continued Business Justification – marketeers need to demonstrate that the campaigns and initiatives they are proposing make good business sense, to both secure funding for them and command credibility.
- Learn from experience – gathering learnings from previous project management on web and other online marketing projects from across the business, not just using market research and peer groups for insights that may impact on project outcomes.
- Defined roles and responsibilities – a fundamental necessity as without this understanding, the marketing manager (and any other stakeholder) can find themselves in a changing landscape – sometimes accountable and sometimes not – and leading to all kinds of misunderstandings and wrong assumptions being made by all parties.
- Manage by stages – this avoids having to think about the work in one, all-encompassing whole; instead, you can split it into manageable tasks. An effective marketing plan might involve multiple tactics and activities: from web development to online advertising, as well as IT support for some of the setting up of website back-end tracking functionality to gauge the efficacy of campaigns. Splitting up the work into stages makes for a more controlled, less stressful working environment for everyone, facilitates regular progress reviews and affords opportunities to check there is ongoing business justification.
- Manage by exception – avoids having to refer to senior managers with relatively minor issues involving changes in costs, time, quality, scope, benefits, and risk by defining tolerance thresholds.
- Focus on products – many a time on web projects I struggled with stakeholders articulating new ideas and visions about the desired product (website) after the concept stage had passed and a web project was long underway. Defining and agreeing detailed descriptions of what to produce and the approval criteria could have avoided endless reiterations.
- Tailor to suit the project – the flexibility to pare down the Prince2 method to accommodate small to medium sized marketing projects makes it easy to implement in a range of settings and without fuss.
Applying the PRINCE2 method in practice
After obtaining my PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner certifications (both done online), I was determined to get some experience applying the method. Therefore, I joined the Project Management Institute, as I understand there is access to volunteering opportunities which require project management skills.
My current company, Ambiental Risk Analytics – a global specialist in flood modelling and risk – was acquired by Royal HaskoningDHV last year. We are currently in a period of transition and digital transformation as we develop and bring to market new multi-peril alerting software. As there are many project managers involved in this, the company has been positive about my PRINCE2 knowledge and ability to use the skills as part of the transition activity.
Even on a personal level, having the skills is proving valuable in my involvement with the local Toastmasters group. As a fledgling volunteer on the group’s education committee it has been recognized that being PRINCE2 qualified will be helpful in managing group tasks to improve members’ understanding and use of the online educational learning platform.
Adapting PRINCE2 best practice principles to a marketing context means you can be more efficient and successful with projects; it minimizes the risk and the chance of failure and allows for better planning and controls, especially when interacting inter-departmentally and with external stakeholders.
I’ve been able to increase my understanding of the bigger picture, use the planning techniques to achieve a more sophisticated level of marketing and command greater respect as a result.