Have you ever hit a snag as you manage projects?
Maybe some details got missed. You had to work on something at the last minute. You have way too much on your plate.
It felt like a fire drill. And it felt disorganized.
But… what if you never had to feel that way again?
Workflow process mapping for your marketing projects can help you:
- Reduce the amount of work within a project by 30-50%. (!!!)
- Start projects at the right times to help you nail every deadline.
- Collaborate + delegate more efficiently than ever before.
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Team Management Dashboard: Manage Your Team's Workload More Effectively Than Ever
Gain powerful insight into your team’s daily and weeks tasks in one dashboard. The Team Management Dashboard gives managers ultimate visibility into team member's priorities. You can pinpoint bottlenecks in workload, see project status, and set realistic goals for your entire team (without the endless status meetings.)
With the Team Management Dashboard from CoSchedule, you'll:
- Gain ultimate visibility into each team member's daily priorities, so you can focus on driving productivity and meeting your deadlines NOT scouring the calendar for project updates.
- Easily identify who has too much on their plate and who can take on more work, so you can get more done and keep team members happy.
- Know who’s falling behind (and who’s rockin’ it). Get a snapshot of every team member’s progress with completed, overdue, and incomplete tasks, so you can set realistic goals for your team and address concerns faster.
1. Map Out Everything That Needs To Be Done
Andrew S. Grove, former chairman and CEO at Intel, writes about the concept of removing unnecessary tasks from processes in his book, High Output Management. He calls this work simplification.
And, to be honest, it's a very easy idea to grasp + implement.
...you first need to create a flow chart of the production process as it exists. Every single step must be shown on it; no step should be omitted in order to pretty things up on paper.
To implement this advice, you could:
- Open Evernote and type every step in your process in a bulleted list.
- Grab a stack of Post-It notes + a Sharpie and wrote one step per sticky note.
- Find a notepad + a pencil and get everything on paper.
At this point, you are looking for a raw list of every single step in a process.
For example, here is a workflow process sample of all of the steps we consider as we write a blog post at CoSchedule:
Note: This is a simple checklist in Evernote. It's not overcomplicated.
2. Reduce The Number of Steps in Your Workflow
In High Output Management, Andrew shares:
Second, count the number of steps in the flow chart so that you know how many you started with. Third, set a rough target for reduction of the number of steps. In the first round of simplification, our experience shows that you can reasonably expect a 30 to 50 percent reduction.
To implement the actual simplification, you must question why each step is performed. Typically, you will find that many steps exist in your workflow for no good reason. Often they are there because of tradition or because formal procedure necessitates it, not for a practical reason.
Putting this advice into practice for our blog post workflow example, I targeted removing at least 5 of the 28 steps (highlighted in yellow):
As you do this process for your own workflow, look for steps that:
- Fall into other processes and will happen regardless of including this as an actual task in your workflow. Examples for the blog post included emailing audience and responding to blog comments.
- Simply don't need to happen. For example, our social media graphics are the same as the graphics we design for blog content (our graphic designer, Ashton, just sizes them appropriately for each social media network). No one needs to review her work if we nail the initial review correctly, so this is a step that doesn't need to exist.
- Used to be helpful, but are now outdated. We used to define angles and peer review outlines at a time when we changed our standards of performance for blog content. These steps were helpful to instill a culture change for every piece, but now the team knows the expectations. In this example, we can remove those two steps because we trust the team to complete their work effectively.
- Exist for office bureaucracy. When you completely trust your team, there is no need for approvals. More eyeballs = slower, inefficient process. If you don't trust your team to ship quality work, improving your workflow is not the problem (and it won't be the solution).
3. Combine Steps Into Tasks
In addition to removing steps from your workflow entirely, there is likely an opportunity to consolidate similar steps together.
This practice will help you remove some clutter from your workflow, simplify your process, and make delegating + communicating tasks a lot easier.
For example, with the blog post workflow, I consolidated 23 steps into 13:
Note that at this point, you'll want to clearly begin every task with a verb. As you delegate, this makes it clear what you expect the assignee to do before she marks the task as complete.
4. Give Each Task a Clear Definition of Done
And since you'll be delegating, you may need to literally write out your expectations for each task. What does done look like before the assignee checks it off her to-do list?
This simple process gives you the chance to clearly communicate expectations before you assign work. And as you share the definitions with your team, it gives your assignees a framework to reference as they execute so they can self-serve and answer the questions themselves (further improving their productivity and autonomy).
5. Choose Who Will Complete Each Task
You likely already know the folks who serve specific marketing roles within your business.
Now, it's time to determine who among your team is best suited for each of the tasks.
For our blog post workflow example, defining who does what could look like this:
6. Determine How Long it Will Take to Complete Each Task
Now that you know who is doing what, you can have a simple conversation with each team member involved in the process.
During this chat, show your assignee the workflow as a whole and explain the definitions of done. Then, ask a simple question:
How long will it take to complete this task?
You will use this information to help you understand when to begin working on the project so you can nail your deadlines.
For example, this is what it may look like for the blog post workflow:
This process helps you see where there are opportunities for multiple different team members to be working on different parts of the project at the same time (so you can ship faster). For example, Ben can proofread and optimize as Ashton starts her designs.
It also gives you some perspective into how much work a specific team member can realistically take on.
And it will help you understand how far in advance you should assign the tasks to be due.
7. Plan When Each Task Needs To Be Complete
At this point, review every task and think about the due date as:
# days before publish
I've found it helpful to start your review with the last task in your workflow.
Because you can realistically work backward to understand when to start the project, taking into consideration every task, team member, and their time commitment.
How many days before publish (or launch) does the last task in my workflow need to be complete?
Is it one day? One week?
From there, determine how many days before publish the other tasks need to be complete. Keep in mind, there may be opportunity for different team members to complete tasks simultaneously (which will help you ship faster).
This is an extremely subjective part of the framework and will require a lot of good + realistic judgment on your part. So, here is an example of what this would look like for our blog post workflow example:
In this example, I started my review with the last task in our workflow: Schedule blog post to publish. I like to see blog posts 100% complete two weeks before they publish. This gives us a bank of content and a framework of when we should realistically start working on content to keep that bank of completed content a reality.
After I nailed down when the last task needs to be complete, I worked my way "up" the task list and assigned X days before publish due dates to all of the tasks.
Now I know in order to write a blog post up to our standards, we should start working on it 22 days before publish.
Agile Sprint Planning Can Make This Even Easier
Agile is a project management technique that is growing in popularity amongst marketing teams. It is particularly popular for its ability to accurately breakdown large projects into smaller chunks that are more likely to be accomplished on time.
Part of the Agile process is collaboratively determining team velocity and the break down of tasks. Doing so collaboratively means the project is more likely to be completed on time as the individual who will be doing the work can give their estimations of how long it will actually take them to accomplish the tasks.
Here's how it works:
Your team velocity is their overall capacity to accomplish work. This is typically calculated based team input and historical performance. It can be calculated using some basic math. Every task your team completes a holds a certain point value.
Once every task of your project is broken down, team members will assign the task a point value on a scale of 1 to 3... 1 is the easiest to complete and takes the lest amount of time; 3 is the most difficult and takes the most amount of time.
Task A: 1 point
Task B: 2 points
Task C: 2 points
Task D: 3 points
Project Velocity Total: 8
Let's say that previous projects that were an 8 point velocity were delivered in a total of 3 days. Now you know exactly how many days to allocate for the work to be completed.
I'm not gonna lie: My Evernote example is starting to look like a mess.
That's where CoSchedule comes into play.
8. Delegate The Tasks: Notify + Remind + Collaborate
At this point, your team knows the tasks they are responsible for completing + the definition of done for those tasks.
So your next step is to clearly:
- Notify the assignee when you delegate a task so she knows what to execute.
- Communicate the due date for that task (transitioning your plan of # days before publish into clearly defined calendar dates).
- Remind the assignee again the day before a task is due to make certain the task gets complete.
You can do this via email or instant message tools like Slack or HipChat.
Or you can build the workflow you created into CoSchedule to automatically share this information without the manual busywork. ;)
In your CoSchedule marketing calendar, open a new blog post.
From here, select the task template icon and + New Template.
Now you can add all of the process you just created into a reusable marketing workflow. Simply name your task template and hit Next.
Then add each of your tasks, assign it to the team member, and add your # days before publish.
Now you can apply + reuse that task template with a couple simple clicks, which works extremely well for recurring projects like the blog post example we've been using as a teaching aid throughout this article.
The moment you apply the task template, everyone who is assigned a task is notified by email and in their personal CoSchedule dashboard (which serves nicely as a daily to-do list). The day before a task is due, CoSchedule automatically emails the assignee to make sure the work gets done.
10. Track Team Progress
Now you can follow the same process you learned from this article to create workflows for any project you choose to take on!
Afterward, you'll likely want to know what's working (and what's not) so you can improve your process.
Lucky you— CoSchedule also has a feature called the Team Performance Report.
^^^ This report helps you know your team's completion rate for all marketing tasks on your calendar. That includes:
- Tasks completed on time (so you know your workflows are really working).
- Tasks completed past due (so maybe you need to tweak minor # days before publish somewhere because the work is getting done, just not when you expected).
- Tasks overdue (so you can see exactly what is NOT getting done and address snags with your team quickly).
You can also use burn charts to understand the amount of tasks you are assigning to your team and how many are overdue. This helps you spot trends + address snags before you miss any deadlines.
With Team Reports, you can also see who is falling behind (and who's rockin' it). You'll click through to see even more information about each team member's performance with completed, overdue, and incomplete task reports. And that will help you tweak your workflows + set realistic goals + address concerns faster.
How Will You Organize Your Marketing Workflow Process?
The framework you just learned has helped the marketing team at CoSchedule get organized, work smarter, and boost our productivity.
And hey, if you want to make it even easier on yourself... let us know! You can set up a demo below...
This blog post was originally published on January 28, 2018. It was updated and republished on April 17, 2019.