How Do I Manage New Project Requests From My Boss?

Hi Joe,

My boss just reached out and wants us to try out a new project that we’ve never done before.

I’ve never even heard of some of the things she’s talking about. I told her that I’d look into it, but I’m not sure where to start.

Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks,

Clueless Corey

pink seperator line

Hi, Corey!

We’ve all been there. Our boss sends an email or Slack message asking whether we can run a brand new type of campaign that we’ve never even seen before. We read the request again. Hyperventilate a little. Draft three different responses, and finally settle on “Let me look into that.” But what’s next?

 

Start with research

First off, telling your boss you’d look into it is a great first step.

It shows initiative and that you’re ready to find a way to make it work for your team. So many people worry about not having the answer right away, and they end up saying “yes” to things they can’t actually accomplish, or “no” to things that might actually make a positive difference. The fact that you’ve given yourself the time to research the feasibility is great. Nice job.

There are two main things you’re going to have to do before you get back to your boss:

  • The first is figuring out what the ask actually is and how it’s typically addressed.
  • The second is to map out the scope of the project, while also understanding the value that will come from implementing it.

Let’s dive into these two things a little more.

 

1. Understand the ask

A big part of what your boss (and their boss) is going to want to know is how much money, time, and resources the project is going to cost.

Before you can even map out the scope of the project, you need to have a clear picture of how you’re actually going to execute it. Here are some ways to go about that.

Tap into your network

The truth is, it’s unlikely that this is the first time someone is looking into this project. The marketing ops community has tons of people that are willing to share their experiences and answer questions — so ask.

Check out relevant forums

There is a rich collection of forums on various marketing automation topics — you’ve probably already used them to answer questions before. Revisit these and post your questions so members can answer. 

See if there’s a company dedicated to this particular issue

A lot of companies in the marketing automation space started out trying to solve a particular issue.

Take Knak, our sister company, for example. They exist in part because they realized that Marketo didn’t have robust email editing capabilities. They wanted to give marketers more freedom to design emails.

There might be another company out there that’s built around helping marketers execute the type of project you want to run. We may even be able to help.

 

2. Figure out the scope

Once you know what the project will look like, then you can assess how much it will cost.

This will go beyond the price tag of a new tool. You also have to consider how many people will need to be involved and for how long, and whether it makes more sense to bring in a consultant.

On the flip side, you should also consider the value the project will bring to your team. How much time will it save? How many new leads will it generate?

This may be the point where you realize that the project isn’t actually feasible or sensible for your team.

Don’t be afraid to say no to your boss.

As long as you can show that there’s a good reason for it and that you’re looking out for the best interests of the company, they’ll understand a “no.”

All that said, don’t let finances or the fact that a project seems to make sense for your business be the only factors that guide your decision-making.

Sometimes, it’s the projects that look banal on the outside that end up making the most impact in the long run.

Maybe everything works fine as it is, but it’s worth experimenting and fostering a culture of innovation and iteration within your team. That way, you can avoid becoming complacent and instead position your company as a leader within the space.

 

You’ve got this, 

Joe Pulse

How Can I Manage My Deadlines?

Hey Jo,

I’m drowning in deadlines at work.

The pace has been particularly fast for a while now, with multiple campaigns and events happening at the same time. I’ve got lots of different tasks on my plate, and it seems like I’m always playing catch-up to complete them all.

I need to manage my workload more effectively, but I’m not sure where to start. What can I do to keep on top of my deadlines?

Thanks,

Deadline Dana.

 

Dana, it’s good that you’re asking these questions.

After several years as the only marketing operations person in my company, I understand how tricky it can be to catch your breath. When your day-to-day involves a constant scramble to meet deadlines, you’re left with little time or energy to reflect on why that’s the case.

When the heat is on from mounting deadlines and expectations, I’ve found there are usually a number of dynamics at play.

From my experience, you want to think about ideas like how to:

  • structure your work
  • communicate with your team, and
  • stay on the same page using the systems you have in place.

5 ways to manage deadlines:

1. Plan in advance

Rushed turnarounds tend to arise from poor planning, so as eager as your team might be to get the ball rolling with campaigns, don’t implement without a solid plan in place.

Start with a target launch date, then budget how much time you’ll need to sort out all the steps, dependencies, and approvals to make that viable (be generous).

Share that plan a good distance ahead of your deadline, and you’ll be in good shape to deal with any setbacks.

2. Prioritize your tasks

List all the responsibilities on your radar ahead of each day. Then, focus on the most urgent items to keep your projects on track.

Start with any low-effort tasks that take less than 15 minutes. This strategy can shorten your list and make you feel accomplished.

Then switch gears to take on the more demanding work.  The less pressing items on your list are good candidates to put on the back bench or delegate.

3. Have ongoing check-ins

Proactively reach out to your colleagues to figure out ways of dealing with heavy deadlines.

Schedule regular chats with your manager about bandwidth. Talk about where your time’s spent and what your capacity is.

Also, schedule progress updates with your stakeholders on what’s on track and what’s at risk. This gives you an opportunity to surface any workload issues and collaborate in good time on a solution.

4. Get outside help

You only have so many hours in the day.

Outsource any tasks you don’t have the resources to handle effectively. Getting time back for more important tasks is money well spent. (Psst… see how we can help).

 

5. Implement transparent systems

To prevent excess deadlines from coming all at once, your tech should make it easy to understand where your teams’ activities and requests fit together.

A central project management tool, campaign calendar, and dedicated channel to submit requests can all accomplish this.

You’re in a stressful position right now, but you can easily turn it around. The more proactive you are with planning and communication, the better you’ll get at keeping deadlines under control.

 

You’ve got this,

Jo Pulse.