The need for enterprise workflow and project management tools in the marketing tech stack is nothing new but the number of options available as well as the number deployed has exploded in recent years. Cella’s first In-House Agency survey in 2010 reported that 62% of teams had adopted this type of technology. Over the last ten or so years, the adoption of and landscape for this technology has changed dramatically. According to our 2022 In-House Creative Industry Report, 87% of teams are now using Project Management software and that number jumps to 93% for teams that are 50 people or greater.

It’s clear that marketing teams want greater efficiencies along with the need to support the ever-increasing number of remote or hybrid workers. If you compare’s Marketing Technology Landscape from 2011 to 2020 - in less than 10 years the category of Agile/Project Management went from 7 logos, to being split into two separate categories with over 200 logos!

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2011 – Agile/Project Management reflected as a combined category with just 7 logos


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2020 = 53 Agile & Lean products and 148 Projects & Workflow products

Although the percentage of teams dissatisfied with their Project Management tool has decreased from 20% in 2021 to 14% in 2022, teams continue to struggle with achieving success – from the selection process through user adoption – in order to maximize their ROI and benefits received. Below are some challenges to be aware of and tips to help you succeed along the way.

Implementing Enterprise Software is Hard!

Implementing enterprise software is no small feat. To do this successfully, there is planning and discovery work to do upfront – with input required from a cross-functional team and support from leadership. During the early stages of the implementation process the team’s expectations tend to get inflated where they believe the new software can fix and do anything. Then comes the phase where users enter the ‘trough of disillusionment’ and become frustrated by all the change and are tempted to revert to their old way of working. This is a critical juncture and attention must be paid to this pivotal point as successful teams will climb up the ‘slope of enlightenment’ and push through the challenges to successfully adopt the new tool and processes. Otherwise, this becomes the point at which teams that lack buy-in are taken down the ‘road to rejection’ and the software is abandoned.


Tips to Success

  • Take the time upfront to do the proper planning and discovery to save you rework and time in the long run. As Dale Carnegie famously said, “An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing.”
  • Set realistic expectations early on and communicate, communicate, and communicate more.
  • Ensure there is advocacy and support from Leadership – and that the message containing the ‘motivation to change’ flows top-down to all users.
  • A phased deployment approach typically works best to help manage the amount of change and disruption your users will face.

Process Matters

Too often, we see clients struggle because of inconsistent, unclear, or outdated workflows that no longer reflect the way we work today. There is hope that a new project management tool will resolve ALL your problems. Software won’t fix a broken process. Consider optimizing and streamlining your workflows before you configure a new tool modeled after outdated or broken processes. Doing this work up front will help you realize the tool’s key benefits – work and resource management - by setting the tool up properly from day one.

Cella believes it's best to map workflows by job type and tier. Video production will use different resources and have different steps from a website build. Along with the job type, the level of complexity required will impact the workflow. Two video production projects may have very different steps and need resources if one is a tier 1 project requiring brand new creative while the second is a tier 3 job requesting changes to existing content. 

Tips to Success

  • Doing the process work will help with the selection and implementation process as you will uncover requirements during this time.
  • Consider doing this by job type and tier and include a cross-functional team to ensure the process represents all perspectives.
  • Once your processes are defined, streamlined, and documented you can better configure the tool to support the improved process. The process work will be repurposed to help define your project templates, job roles and teams needed in the project management system.
  • Getting your teams to think about improving processes can also help generate excitement and buy-in for the new tool as they are involved in defining the new way of working. This goes a long way from a change management and solution adoption perspective.

Selecting the Right Tool

Once you make the decision to implement a project management tool and obtain budget approval – you are faced with an overwhelming number of options (201 to be exact - see paragraph 2!). How do you know which tool is the right fit for your organization?  It’s not a one size fits all approach! You must follow a structured, informed, and unbiased tool selection process.  This is one of the services that Cella frequently provides to our clients (especially over the last few years) and we have a tried and true methodology and selection process.  

Project management tools range from highly complex requiring a heavy project management discipline to simpler solutions that stick to high level work and resource management. Spending time up front to gather and identify your unique requirements and use cases is the critical first step and then these requirements should be documented in a scorecard.  To do this successfully you need to meet with all roles that are engaged in the process – project managers, designers, copy writers, leadership, and those that simply request work - ensuring that all requirements are captured. Once you have a short list of vendors to evaluate, you must work with each vendor to determine how they would support your requirements through system demos and having them self-assess against your scorecard requirements. If you skip these important steps, you may find yourself with a feature-rich tool that is too complicated to use or worse yet, one that does not meet your needs. 

Tips to Success

  • Identify all roles that contribute to the process and create a tool selection team that represents these roles to ensure you obtain a complete list of requirements. 
  • Don’t assume you already know what you need – go through the due diligence of requirements gathering by conducting discovery interviews with each role. What’s working well in your current tool or way of working? What could be done better or streamlined? Where are things breaking down or causing delays? How is the team collaborating and sharing files and information? What is one thing that could make your job easier?  
  • Be sure to include at least 3 vendors in your evaluation process. You may be surprised by what you learn from comparing a few solutions.

Implementation Team Resources

An implementation team with strong and dedicated project management is a must-have to successfully deliver an initiative of this magnitude on time and within budget. This is often a challenge as internal resources are busy with their day-to-day workload. Implementing a project management tool requires a significant amount of time, project management oversight, and coordination to select, design, configure, implement, as well as help train and onboard users – while ensuring that proper attention is paid to change management and solution adoption along the way. This is time that most internal teams don’t have to spare, nor do they have the expertise in overseeing projects of this nature. Cella provides implementation services with specific expertise on how in-house agency, creative, and marketing teams work, which can greatly reduce the burden on internal resources. Keep in mind that if you secure an outside resource to assist with implementation, it is still important that your team is engaged and involved throughout the process.  

Tips to Success

  • Be realistic about your team's bandwidth and skill-set to support the implementation effort on top of their day jobs.
  • Consider other critical long-term needs which include supporting continuous improvement by adopting new features and making configuration changes to improve efficiency. This is best fulfilled by a fully dedicated tool system administrator.
  • Develop a roadmap and phased approach for implementation – what do you need in phase 1 vs phase 2? Cella recommends that your initial focus be on work/project management, then once you have ‘work’ in the tool – start looking at resource management.
  • Aside from implementing the project management tool itself, evaluate what integrations are needed and when. There may be additional benefits received when you integrate your project management platform with your enterprise DAM, CMS and CRM tools.

Change Management isn’t Optional

Changes that require adoption, such as deploying new technology, require significant change management. For these types of projects, solution adoption is the single most important critical project component to success. The old-school approach of ‘we’ll throw in some communications and training at the end’ do not suffice.  In our current environment of rapid digital transformation, if you don’t consider the ‘people’ element of change - you risk seeing your investments fail. 

Change management processes provide a structure to support your efforts to prepare, plan and adopt new technology along with new ways of working. They lay the groundwork for a positive first impression and user experience. This helps ensure that the change is sustained, and adoption reinforced.  Many companies fall into the trap of thinking the project is complete once the Go-Live has been reached - without ensuring that it gets properly adopted.  Cella often works with companies to ensure this is handled thoughtfully and given the proper attention.

Tips to Success

  • Change management also requires support from Leadership to be successful. It is critical that Leadership explain why adoption of the project management tool is important and how it will provide benefit to the users (i.e., ‘what’s-in-it-for-me’). How will this tool help me do my job better or make my life easier?
  • Create an effective change management communications plan that will inspire, engage and help your users navigate changes effectively. 
  • Validation testing with a pilot team is a critical step to ensure the software has been configured in a way that meets the requirements uncovered during discovery.
  • Remember that people adapt to change at different speeds so be sure to check-in continually once the implementation is complete and monitor user engagement.  Hold annual ‘adoption weeks’ where you survey users to measure their level of engagement and knowledge and based on the feedback obtained, conduct a series of workshops to provide additional training and support.
  • Make it fun! Ask the vendor for some free SWAG to give out as prizes – ‘the first user to upload their picture on their user profile wins a free water bottle’. You’d be surprised how far swag goes to engage people.

Need help documenting your process? Selecting or implementing a Project Management tool? Help managing the change required for successful solution adoption? Contact Cella!