Marketing resource management (MRM) is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. Not that the software necessarily went out of vogue. It’s been humming away in the background enabling marketers to manage their marketing resources with greater efficiency. Nonetheless, MRM has recently become a hot topic of discussion as experts re-evaluate its capabilities. So what should marketers be looking for in an MRM tool to keep pace with their complex roles?
First, let’s take a look at the top challenges marketers encounter when planning and scheduling their resources for marketing projects.
Headaches in Managing Ad Agency Resources
The top challenges of managing marketing resources
In many cases marketers need to be multi-skilled practitioners, able to move from one type of marketing campaign to another in a single bound. With this comes the responsibility of managing a team of creatives who need to produce quality and timely content. If it sounds exhausting, then it probably is in the absence of the right marketing tools.
Here are some of the top challenges of managing resources:
- According to the 2018 In-House Creative Industry Report: “Creatives teams are producing 10 times the volume of content.” The biggest challenge then for marketers is getting more content out there in faster turnaround times.
- Incomprehensive marketing briefs that make it almost impossible to plan resources because the scope is never clear.
- A lack of visibility over resources because marketers are still relying on ancient practices such as spreadsheets to plan and schedule resources.
- (On the other hand) marketers are juggling standalone resource management tools with separate project management and DAM systems which defeats the purpose of using technology to improve efficiencies.
- Email approvals and high artwork revisions hold up resources and delay deadlines on other urgent work.
- Marketers cannot demonstrate ROI because they don’t have the right tools to track their creative projects.
- More brands are struggling to stay consistent across the breadth of marketing content. In fact, 46% of organisations are relying on approval channels that put their compliance at risk. Meanwhile, the ACCC continues to fine more brands for breaching marketing guidelines.
- Marketing resources are collapsing under the weight of more projects, more delays, more chaos and more after-hours work.
- There’s no accountability for work.
- The quality of your marketing campaigns is taking a big hit.
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Understanding marketing resource management (MRM)
As marketing becomes more complex, the needs of marketers change. That’s why there’s been a lot of buzz around Gartner’s new definition of MRM 2.0 which now includes a breakdown of these three categories:
- Work management
- Performance management
- Asset management
While the term MRM 2.0 isn’t necessarily beholden to one software solution, it makes sense that the ultimate MRM is a system that considers the whole production cycle and associated marketing tasks. Think: resource management integrated with project and approval workflow management, digital asset management (DAM) and reporting tools. With its growing popularity, MRM has been forecasted to bring in a whopping US$9 billion by 2020.
Understanding Resource Management and Resource Management Software
Features of today’s robust MRM software
It doesn’t make sense that marketers who are already time poor are adopting multiple solutions to manage their resources and marketing projects. In actual fact, one system can do the entire job.
Here are the kinds of features to look out for when selecting a comprehensive MRM:
- Department dashboard and calendar that provides full transparency over your resources
- Assign and re-assign task tools with easy drop and drag feature
- Time tracking tools and online timesheets
- Automated updates when new tasks are assigned to a resource
- Resource templates so that your resources are set up and ready to go
- Reporting tools so you can better plan your future resources
- Administration control with allocating resources
- Remote access
- Project set up in a few easy steps
- Document management where all files and communications are automatically saved to the system
- Online briefs to capture the right information upfront
- Brief templates to avoid repetitive admin
- Document approval to ensure briefs and estimates are signed off
- Task assigning tools
- A live marketing calendar that shows you exactly what projects are in progress
Approval workflow management
- One screen that provides the progress of all approvals
- Approval pathways to suit your approval process
- Approval templates to enable shortcuts for project approvals
- Robust feedback system where stakeholders can view other feedback
- Batch feedback feature
- Online proofing tools that enable any files (print, web, video, flash) to be marked up
- Compare revision tools that allow you to review two files onscreen at once
- An audit trail of marketing work that is automatically created
- Security features for sharing files to external parties
Digital asset management (DAM)
- Marketing asset management to store marketing assets
- Usage rights feature to ensure images are within licence dates
- Compliance feature that saves a history of all assets that have been downloaded
- Ad storage to save final, approved ads
- Re-run campaign feature
- Remote access
- Secure, unlimited storage space
- Automatic file conversion tool
- Permission and access levels to safeguard your assets
- Easy search function to locate assets
- Automated reporting
- Resource availability, WIP, artwork revision reports
Must Have Features for Resource Management Software
Benefits of using MRM software
It’s one thing to understand MRM’s innovative features, but what you really want to know is how it can change your work life for the better. Well, here it is:
- Manage your marketing projects from end-to-end, from briefing to allocating resources to approving content and storing final artwork.
- Ditch those resource spreadsheets which are slowing you down and driving you crazy.
- Assign and re-assign marketing resources with easy-to-use tools so that you can get back to your creative work.
- All approved users have full visibility over resource allocations and projects at all times, so everyone can plan their work better.
- Inbuilt approval workflow and proofing tools mean that your marketing resources aren’t in a constant cycle of never-ending artwork changes.
- Time tracking features enable you to plan resources for future projects more accurately.
- An audit trail of work means that you keep your resources accountable for the work they do.
- An inbuilt DAM feature ensures that your resources aren’t wasting time trying to locate lost assets.
- Greater output, higher quality, happier resources!
- Finally demonstrate ROI using the system’s tracking and reporting features.
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The risks of not using a marketing resource management (MRM) tool
On the other side of the fence, here are the risks associated with not using an MRM tool:
- Hours are wasted scheduling resources because you don’t have a clear picture of who is working on what at any time. From Hubspot’s ‘Marketing Agency Growth Report, John Doherty @ Credo: “the fact that 42% of agencies do not know their staff utilization is quite alarming.”
- You can’t reassign tasks quickly when someone is away sick.
- You constantly find errors like resource double-ups while using spreadsheets to plan resources.
- Conflicting feedback on email approvals keeps your resources grinding away at artwork changes.
- You’re wasting money having three different standalone systems when you could implement one that does the same job (and better!).
- Poor briefing means your projects are always off to a bad start because you have no idea how to allocate your resources.
- You’ve become dependent on freelancers to complete work because your own resources are held up on other jobs.
- There’s no way to track your resources to measure performance, neither can you forecast resources for future projects.
- There’s no audit trail of work for marketing compliance.
Your resources waste precious time looking for brands assets because you don’t have a central suppository.
Risks of Not Using Resource Management Software
Selecting MRM software
At Mumbrella 360 this year, a session on ‘Marketing Operation Platforms – Why are ancient practices still in place’ unearthed an interesting trend. The panel which comprised of both brand and agency representatives all favoured a local vendor over an international one. The reason? It seems that having access to a development team in real time delivered more value for buyers who had the added benefit of upgrading features to suit their unique requirements. So buy local is one consideration when selecting MRM. Here are a few other important factors to think about when selecting MRM that’s right for your marketing needs:
- It’s critical that you dedicate time to the selection process, so we recommend that you set this up as a project in its own right.
- Okay, now it’s time to identify your main issues and challenges.
- Now make a list of your requirements, which is what you need the software to do. Be sure to get input from your creative team and the other stakeholders who will be using the system. And keep them in the loop!
- Prioritise your requirements so that you know which ones absolutely need to be met by an MRM tool.
- Make a list of about five to ten vendors that have an MRM with features that best match your requirements.
- Research your vendors and their software thoroughly. In terms of the software consider these points:
• Is the system user-friendly?
• Will it be easy to implement?
• Does it manage all the different file types you require?
• Is it cloud-based? (Remember, you’ll want remote access)
• How much will the software cost?
• Does it offer agility in terms of feature upgrades?
• Make sure the vendor offers adequate onsite training.
- Once you have selected the vendor and software that best suits your needs, it might be time to write a business case.
Effective Resource Management Strategies to Improve Your Bottom Line
Implementing MRM software
So we’re nearly there. You’ve selected your MRM software, but how do you ensure that the implementation process goes as smoothly as possible? Here are our top tips:
- Nominate a champion for the software (this step can also be done during the selection process). The champion is someone who is going to rally everyone to get behind the system, because it’s going to bring ease and efficiency back to the workplace.
- Make sure that everyone who is going to use the system is available for training. If anyone happens to be away during this period, make sure there is follow up.
- Check in with your users during the adoption period. Are there any issues acting as a barrier to adoption? If so, find ways to allay these issues.
- Draw a line in the sand. Give your team and stakeholders time to get used to the system and then it’s D-day – the day when all previous tools and practices become obsolete. Non-negotiable.
- Make sure you have training collateral and videos on hand for any new staff who come on board.
And there you have it – everything you ever needed to know about MRM.
Benefits of Implementing a Resource Management Solution?