We previously discussed how to streamline your internal processes, but what we didn’t talk about in our last article was the need to improve your org structure and manage your practices. These people and steps can cause serious delays in your processes, timelines, and outcomes. This is especially true if you’re working with time-sensitive materials, like a press release announcing a new award or business update.
While you might be afraid to switch up your job roles or your checkpoints for each project, these changes can mean serious improvements to your time, labor, and overall planning to avoid the feeling of anxiety that always accompanies due dates and deadlines.
It's Time to Take Back Control of Your Processes
If there seems to be a never-ending wheel of setbacks, ongoing edits, and delays in approvals it is time to stop being reactive and start being proactive. Your workday shouldn’t leave you feeling frazzled and looking like you’ve stuck your finger into an electrical socket. Are there going to be inevitable tight crunches and fast deadlines? Of course! There always are. But that doesn’t mean they have to be standard practice.
By taking the time to evaluate who you’ve got on your team, where their weaknesses and strengths lie, what your timeframes look like, and where things are getting bottlenecked you’ll be able to see where there are alternate routes. The truth of the matter is that not every member of your team needs to know how to do everything or see and touch everything. Projects, tasks, and final products will still be great if you remove an unnecessary step. Consider it like removing that extra scarf or pair of shoes from your bag when packing from a trip. They’re cute and fun, but you really don’t need them to get the job done.
With that said, here are four roadblocks and solutions to taking back control of your processes.
ROADBLOCK #1: Tasks are taking too long because the wrong person is doing them
If you’re asking your Digital Advertising Manager to design websites, you’re probably going to miss deadlines and end up with a product you don’t love. As much as we would love to think everyone can do anything, there simply isn’t enough time in the day to send tasks to people that don’t have the experience or knowledge to get the job done.
SOLUTION #1: Evaluate your org structure to improve processes and outcomes
Survey and observe your team members to recognize strengths and weaknesses. Then, identify your team roles and responsibilities that align or match up to those strengths. Don’t worry if you find holes or don’t have traditional job roles for individuals. This is where you can be agile as roles change and people learn and grow. If you’re curious about some of the job roles that can be added to your team, check out this blog!
ROADBLOCK #2: You are always missing the same deadline
Every month is like clockwork, there is always a production schedule or turnaround time that you miss. Whether it’s a blog that doesn’t get approval, there’s a batch of graphics that aren’t created or a newsletter is never sent at the right time, something holds you back and you can’t cross things off of your list.
SOLUTION #2: Change the schedule and give yourself some more time
If there is a specific step that you always need extra time on, then give it to yourself! Then adjust the schedule or process to reflect and account for this time add. This is also a place where you can evaluate the entire process. If it takes 3 weeks to get a finished product, but you need it a week earlier than it’s completed, bump up your start date and make sure everyone knows their part is due on a specific date to move forward.
ROADBLOCK #3: Tasks bounce from person to person, making the process inefficient and adding labor
Let’s say your client needs a digital ad created, your Coordinator takes the first pass, then the Content Manager approves, then the Graphic Designer creates graphics, then back to the Coordinator for placement, over to the Creative Director for sign off on the graphics, then over to the Account Manager for approval, then back to the Content Manager for edits, and then it ends up with the Advertising Manager for distribution. Sounds like your project is a ping pong ball bouncing around and we can identify two people in this scenario that don’t really need to be involved.
SOLUTION #3: Question the steps your projects take and if they are necessary
Don’t get us wrong, you need to have the right people double-checking and approving, but the entire department doesn’t need to give you the green light to move forward. In the example above, the Creative Director and Content Manager probably could have been removed from the scenario to speed things up.
Start by identifying the journey and process your projects will go through, who touches them, who needs to approve them, and what each person specifically contributes. Question these steps, identify if combining steps will speed up the process, and ask if removing a step altogether would make sense. Present this new flow to your team and try it. But don’t give up after 1 or 2 tries. It will take individuals time to remember their new process and get the hang of things.
ROADBLOCK #4: You aren't getting approvals or sign-offs on time
Whether it’s internal or external, not having approval means you cannot move forward. Whether it’s a blog, a new video, or a website page, if you don’t have the green light from the higher-ups or the client, you’re stuck. And what’s even more frustrating is hitting these individuals or teams up multiple times and still not getting your edits or approvals back.
SOLUTION #4: Be clear in your deadlines and set expectations
If you’re working on a deadline, the entire staff that will be touching this piece needs to know what that due date is and when they should get their part done. This includes clients. But don’t just start bossing people around. Explain the reasons behind these deadlines and map out follow-up notifications.
PRO TIP: Use red exclamation mark emojis in emails or slacks to indicate that an action is needed and the recipient’s attention is needed.
If you still can’t get sign-off, move along anyways. By taking the next action, such as publishing a blog or scheduling social media posts, the bottlenecks will learn that the train keeps moving. They can either get on or be left behind. Hopefully, they’ll be on board next time.
Moving Foward On a Clear Path
Trust us, switching it up when you’re kind of operating in a groove can be terrifying. We recently implemented some of these solutions within our agency, and while there were some wide eyes and uncertainties, we are operating more smoothly and efficiently than ever. And give yourself some grace! No one ever gets it on the first try. If they claim they did, they’re not being honest. Every team, department, agency, and company is different. You’ll find what works for you and what doesn’t.
If you’re looking for some additional tools or templates to help you in this journey, check out our resource library. We’re willing to bet that there will be a few resources you could keep in your back pocket to help you master your marketing role.