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Marketing Process Management vs. Marketing Project Management

Project management is a term that gets thrown around a lot in marketing departments. Any organized effort that includes tasks with due dates is deemed to be a project.

But what if it isn’t?

Ask yourself: “What are the main tasks for my next project?” If you answer with responses such as, “do a creative brief”, “generate a design,” “get approval and sign-­‐off,” and “publish to the website,” ask yourself another question. “Is what I am describing actually a project? Am I sure that it is not in fact a process that just happens to have steps with due dates associated with them?”

Just because a particular task requires accountability from a certain person, and has a due date, does not necessarily mean that it is a project task. It could just as easily be a step in a process.

Marketing Process Vs. Marketing Project

Understanding the distinction is important because the tools used to manage processes and projects are quite different in their approach.

Marketing Processes show a general sense of time (left to right or top to bottom), but there is no visual indication of duration – all steps are the same size.

On the other hand, marketing project management tools like Gantt charts are good at representing a project timeline, but poor at facilitating workflow.

Many marketing projects are actually processes masquerading as projects. Project management and process management are actually two sides of the same coin. As a result, many marketing departments make the mistake of selecting a project management tool instead of a process management tool when what they really need is a hybrid of the two.

Failure to select the right tool has a significant impact. Projects often fail because too little time is spent understanding the process necessary to actually drive the needs of the project.

Determining the type of platform you need is tricky.  But to start, it means understanding the difference between process and project management.

Finding The Right Solution

If there were a software supermarket, you would find an aisle for project management products, and an aisle to process management products. There is no aisle for products that combine both.

To name a few on the project management side: Wrike, Asana, Clarizen, Trello, and Podio — and that’s just the tip of the marketing project management application iceberg. It all depends on what specific types of functionality you’re looking for in your project management tools, and what type of tasks you’re looking to accomplish using the application.

Then, there are enterprise applications that do process management. like: Appian, Pega, IBM, Oracle, etc. The sheer number of business process or project management tools can be overwhelming to any business. This is particularly true if you’re an organization attempting to decipher if they need more of a project-management based approach or a process-management based approach.

Of course, that’s a bit of a trick question. Since no silver bullet approach exists to either concept, knowing how to blend the two is where the real value exists.

A marketing project is a series of tasks done in a predefined sequence over time. In other words, a project is simply a unique process with a pre-­planned schedule. The problem is that when you use a marketing project management system to manage processes, you eliminate all the benefits that can be derived from an appropriate process management tool – and vice versa.

The solution is a unified platform that provides both project and process functionality i.e process‐driven project management (or project-enabled process management).

With process‐driven project management, a process is first designed using an appropriate process design tool and then managed using a project management tool. The key is that the underlying data is the same – just the views are different.

The Real Difference: Project Vs. Process Management

The problem with using a project management system is that the process remains obscured because the project is focused on the tasks that need to be done and the dates in which they need to be done. Using that approach, and without having a holistic way to look at a project, it’s impossible to determine how workflow moves through the project, where each individual task fits into the overall picture – or to determine where bottlenecks may be occurring.

On the other hand, the problem with using a process management system is there no concept of time to determine when steps in that project are actually going to take place. Therefore, this eliminates the chance of effective resource planning.

Once you start deciphering between project and process management, it’s easy to see where organization’s misstep. Luckily, doing the right research on what project vs. process management actually is — and how the two work in tandem of the other will help any enterprise understand the critical application types needed to address their individual business management needs.

If your organization runs process-­‐driven projects, and you are managing them as projects, you are severely limiting your organization’s capabilities. If you’d like to learn how to combine both project and process management, get in touch and we’ll provide a demo of the tools we use (which also works with