Push vs. Pull Marketing: A Quick Guide

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

There are several ways you might find yourself buying a product or service. As you shop around, you might be enticed to purchase something. For example, two common tactics include push marketing and pull marketing. Let’s look at push vs. pull marketing to better understand them.

Pull and push marketing are two marketing strategies that are used to sell products or services to an audience. Push vs. pull marketing isn’t a competition. Both have pros and cons, which we’ll get to in a moment, but understanding both can inform your next campaign.

What Is Push Marketing?

Push marketing is what it sounds like, the pushing of a product on a target audience. Push marketing brings your product or service to the audience through marketing. That can be by publishing content on a website and using SEO to draw them to it or a social media post that goes viral.

It’s general advertising as we’ve come to expect it. Push marketing is in your face. It draws you to a product that you never thought you wanted and before you know it, you’ve walked out of the store after completing a purchase. In other words, the push is promoting something.

You want to expose your product or service, ideally to that market segment you’ve researched. It’s less about long-term relationship building, though that’s always a secondary concern, and more about triggering an impulse buy. It’s immediate and can quickly increase your sales and strengthen your brand.

We’ll get to some examples of push marketing in a moment, but regardless of whether you push or pull in your marketing strategy, you’re going to need a plan to implement that strategy into a viable marketing campaign. ProjectManager is online software that helps you turn your strategy into a workable marketing plan. Our online Gantt charts help you organize activities, resources and costs. You can set a baseline to monitor your planned effort against your actual effort in real time to stay on track. Then share it across departments and even with outside vendors. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

ProjectManager's Gantt chartProjectManager's Gantt chart
ProjectManager has Gantt charts to turn marketing strategies into marketing plans. Learn more

Push Marketing Examples

To get a better idea of what push marketing is, let’s look at some examples. There are many, but here are just a few to illustrate what’s meant by push marketing.

Direct Sales

Direct sales are selling directly to the customer. It avoids intermediaries in the supply chain. This could be online sales or those taking place in a brick-and-mortar establishment. Promotions for direct sales often include point-of-sales (POS) displays. You’ve seen them in supermarkets near the checkout, which are intended to grab a customer’s attention. These usually promote a new product or special offer to sweeten the deal.

Radio, TV and Other Ads

Another type of push marketing is commercials you hear on the radio or TV, but they can also be ads in magazines and newspapers. They’re paid advertisements created to sell a product or service and broadcasted on radio or TV shows that are popular with the target audience. That’s why you find products focused on older people being advertised during network news programs, as they have an older demographic. The same is true for products in magazines and newspapers. Beauty magazines have ads for beauty products and so forth. A lot of research is required to understand the target audience and where they spend their time.

Billboards

Billboards are large outdoor signs, usually near heavily trafficked roads used to promote a brand, product or service. It’s an efficient method of push marketing for getting the most views and long-term brand impressions. These giant signs imprint the company’s brand into the customer’s mind and even if they only see it in passing, they’ve done their job pushing the brand, product or service. Then when they see the item in a store, they’re more likely to buy it.

Advantages of Push Marketing

You’re likely familiar with push marketing. It’s been around seemingly forever because it works. There are many advantages to push marketing. Let’s review a few of the top reasons to use this strategy.

For one, manufacturers find push marketing useful when trying to establish a sales channel and need distributors to help with product promotion. Push marketing is great at giving product exposure and increasing customer awareness and demand.

That demand is easier to forecast and predict. The manufacturers control the levers in that they can make and push as much or as little of the product to their customers. If the manufacturers can produce at scale when there’s high demand, then economies of scale can be realized.

Disadvantages of Push Marketing

Push marketing is without its deficits. Even the best strategy has a downside and it’d be foolish to engage with push marketing without a full picture of its pluses and minuses. The following are some disadvantages of push marketing.

To take advantage of push marketing, you must have an active sales team. They have to develop strong relationships with retailers and distributors or it’s not going to work. If your company isn’t able to effectively negotiate with retailers and distributors, your products aren’t going to get stocked or given good placement.

Then there are new products. They’re hard to get traction in a retail environment because retailers have no insurance that these products will prove profitable. New products are hard for manufacturers to push, too, as they have no clear picture of how much demand for the product there will be.

Related: Free Product Requirements Template for Word

There there are the initial marketing efforts, which are sure to be costly. They have to focus on securing a one-time purchase and aren’t as concerned at first with building relationships with customers to develop loyalty. That means the results can be good at first and quickly decline.

What Is Pull Marketing?

The opposite of push marketing is pull marketing. This is a marketing strategy that aims to increase demand for its product or service by bringing the customer to the product or service or pulling them in.

The secret to pull marketing is getting a consumer to want your product. This marketing strategy can be simple to pull the customer in or it can be used in conjunction with push. That’s why the dynamic of push vs. pull marketing is somewhat misleading. They serve the same purpose, but they try to achieve that goal by different means.

The idea of pull marketing is to have the consumer want your product and actively seek it out. They’ll reach out to retailers and if they don’t sell the item, the retailer will likely want to start stocking it to meet the demand. This is a powerful marketing strategy as it converts consumers. This is the first step to creating a long-term relationship and brand loyalty.

Pull Marketing Examples

There are many examples of pull marketing. They might not be as obvious as push marketing at first glance, but when you take the time to examine these pull marketing examples, you’ll understand how they work discretely.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is when a company creates and distributes copy that is valuable and relevant to the audience they want to target. It should also be consistent in order to build a loyal following. By attracting potential customers to websites, magazines, etc., with interesting content that appeals to them, you’re more likely to get a call to action (CTA) that helps drive profitability. The pull here is you’re not pushing your product on people but enticing them with useful content that they want.

SEO

SEO stands for search engine optimization. The purpose of SEO is to get your webpage to rank higher on search engines. People who are searching for a keyword or topic, which is called organic search results, tend to not scroll down the page and rarely go past page one. Those first links on any search page are paid and likely expensive. If you can get your content to rank highly, you’ll get more visitors, leads and conversions. SEO strategy ties to content marketing. You can write the most relevant and engaging copy, but if you’re not showing up in search results, the likelihood of anyone, especially potential customers, finding it is close to nil.

Social Media

Another pull marketing strategy is social media. Everyone knows how integral social media has become in everyone’s life. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Redditt or other platforms, millions of people scroll through those sites every hour. If you can figure out a social campaign to stand out from the noise, it’s possible to engage with consumers by posting interesting content while building brand loyalty. It’s a matter of figuring out creative that can cut through the churn and knowing the platform your potential customers are visiting.

Advantages of Pull Marketing

Just as there are advantages of push marketing, they are benefits to pull marketing. The biggest plus for marketers is that they bypass retailers and market directly to consumers. Being one step closer to the potential customer is always helpful, plus they don’t have to build relationships with retailers in hopes that they give their products good placement.

Once you have that connection with customers, manufacturers are in a stronger position to bargain with retailers and distributors in terms of getting their products out into the marketplace. Pull marketing also creates brand equity and product value.

Pull marketing works when the consumer is actively seeking out your product. One advantage is marketers don’t have to worry about conducting outbound marketing, which is another way of saying push marketing strategies. Those can be expensive. Though they can be used in together with pull marketing for a hybrid approach. Pull marketing can test a product in the marketplace and see if it’s accepted by consumers and get feedback to improve the product.

Disadvantages of Pull Marketing

There are disadvantages of pull marketing. For example, pull marketing works best when there’s already high brand loyalty. This means that customers already trust and are attracted to the product.

Another issue is lead time. It takes a while before consumers make a purchase. They’ll usually look at your product in comparison to competitors. You have to expect an extended period before any purchase is made if it’s made at all.

Of course, the secret of pull marketing is creating a high demand for your product or service. That’s easier said than done, especially if the marketplace is saturated with competition. Your marketing efforts will have to be doubly persuasive to convince consumers to seek your product.

ProjectManager & Marketing Teams

In the battle of push vs. pull marketing, the winner is the marketer. They have more power when it comes to connecting their product with a target audience. Now they have a choice of strategies, but what they need are the tools to implement the marketing campaign. ProjectManager is online software that connects teams across departments and gives everyone the tools they need to do their job the way they want to.

Let Marketers Choose Their Own Tools

Marketing managers plan out the campaign on Gantt charts, which can organize tasks, resources and costs. But when that plan is shared with copywriters or sales, they’re going to want to do their work on tools that make sense for their jobs. Our multiple project views give them options, such as calendars to capture events, list views to show tasks and kanban boards that visualize the workflow. Now everyone can manage their backlog and plan sprints while managers have visibility to reallocate resources as needed to avoid roadblocks. Plus, all tools update in real time.

ProjectManager's kanban boardProjectManager's kanban board
Track Progress and Performance in Real Time

Having real-time data means having the information you need to make more insightful decisions. Marketing managers can get a high-level view of the campaign with our real-time dashboard. It collects and calculates project data automatically and displays the results in easy-to-read graphs and charts. There’s no setup required as with lightweight alternatives. You can see time, cost, workload and more at any time. Then use our customizable reports to get deeper into the data and share them with stakeholders to keep them updated.

ProjectManager's dashbaordProjectManager's dashbaord

Those are just a couple of the features that make our software so valuable to marketers and manufacturers. There are also secure timesheets that streamline payroll and track the time your team is spending on its tasks. Our collaborative platform means you can share files, comment and tag others across departments and timezones to keep everyone connected. Push or pull, there’s no better marketing management software.

ProjectManager is award-winning software that helps you plan, schedule and track marketing campaigns. Using real-time data means you can manage your marketing initiative better and keep everyone involved connected. Join the teams at NASA, Siemens and Nestle who are using our software to deliver success. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

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Operational Strategy: A Quick Guide

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

Companies have goals and the goods or services they produce must align with those goals. Everything has to work together, including resources and processes, to help achieve those goals as efficiently as possible to stay in business. Having an operational strategy helps companies meet those larger goals when planning their projects.

But what is an operational strategy? We’ll get to that in a moment, as well as discuss the various types and how to create an operational plan. Companies always need to review and revise their operational strategy to stay competitive and on track to meet their company-wide goals.

What Is Operational Strategy?

Operational strategy is how an organization decides how it’ll produce and deliver its goods or services. Every step that leads to manufacturing and what happens after the product is manufactured is detailed. The decisions made for each step make up the operational strategy.

But this doesn’t make it separate from the overall business strategy. In fact, the operational strategy must conform to the larger business strategy. In other words, the operational strategy for manufacturing a product line will have goals that work in tandem with the company’s larger business strategy. Both must align for the company to remain competitive in the marketplace.

The operational strategy is made up of various smaller operations that feed into whatever the company is producing. Those operations might include such things as procurement of raw materials, working relationships with vendors and suppliers, design goals, manufacturing processes, packaging and delivery to name but a few.

That’s a lot of planning, monitoring and coordinating of production. To manage those workflows, you need project management software. ProjectManager is online project management software that helps you plan, manage and track your operations and keep them aligned with your operational strategy. Once you have an operational strategy, you need to create an operational plan on our interactive Gantt charts. Use it to organize your tasks, resources and costs on a timeline and filter for the critical path. Then set a baseline and track progress in real time. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

ProjectManager's Gantt chartProjectManager's Gantt chart
ProjectManager’s Gantt chart helps you plan out your operational strategy. Learn more

Types of Operational Strategies

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to operational strategies. There are many types of organizations that use operational strategies to boost efficiency, capabilities and stay competitive. Here are just a few types of operational strategies that organizations use.

Corporate Strategy

When a corporation is devising its strategy, it must look at itself as a larger system made up of interconnected departments. They’re like hubs and nodes that work together to achieve a shared goal. Corporations achieve this through company policies and guidelines that allocate resources to various departments with the objective of reaching the overall goal.

Customer-Driven Operational Strategy

As the name implies, this operational strategy is when an organization intends to meet its customers’ needs. To do this, the organization must identify trends in the marketplace and determine how customers are behaving in terms of their buying preferences and demographics. With this research, an organization can pivot to exploit these findings and see threats to the business and mitigate them more quickly. They can also leverage their strengths and be more competitive.

Core Competencies Strategy

This operational strategy focuses on an organization’s key strengths, resources and capabilities. By pinpointing and exploiting those strengths, an organization can increase its customer satisfaction and loyalty to its product, which can help expand its footprint in the market. But such an operational strategy can also improve efficiencies, such as production costs, which helps with profitability and can even attract new talent.

Competitive Priorities Strategy

When an organization wants to differentiate its brand, product or service, they focus on a marketing-based corporate strategy as well as production processes and organizational culture. In doing so, they’re more likely to produce products and services that meet the needs of their customers at an affordable price. Looking at operational expenses and product development times is essential. Features, quality and benefits that differentiate their product help them stand out.

Product or Service Development Strategy

If you’re looking to improve innovation, this is the operational strategy you’ll want to utilize. It helps add value to your product design. Consider designing a product or service to exploit a niche in the market. You can also use your team and technology to provide customers with a wider range of products and services that they can’t find in the marketplace, such as free overnight delivery.

Cost-Driven Strategies

This operational strategy is based on price. It’s ideal for customers only looking at the bottom line when purchasing a product or service. Usually, these products have many competitors and little difference between their products. Therefore, a lower price is going to attract buyers. To lower your prices, look at production processes and other cost-effective methods.

Outsourcing Strategy

As the name suggests, this is for organizations that rely on others to produce their products and services or deliver them to customers. An outsourcing strategy revolves around your vendors, quality control and logistics. You can take advantage of lower labor costs, use a supply chain management firm to oversee distribution, but always ensure the quality is meeting your expectations.

Flexibility Strategy

If your product or service has the flexibility to change quickly to respond to customer preferences, you’ll want to employ this operational strategy. This can help you if you’re able to do things such as have customers personalize their orders or have the flexibility to warehouse many or few products according to demand.

Creating an Operational Plan

Once you have an operational strategy, you’ll need an operational plan to implement it. An operational plan is a tool to ensure the projects and activities align with the goals and objectives of the organization.

The operational plan includes your goals and objectives, assigned tasks, timeline, budget and resources. This helps you manage your resources, monitor the financial health of the organization, guide your team and increase productivity.

To write an operational plan, follow these eight steps.

1. Know Your Operational Strategy

To begin, you need an operational strategy, which is more concerned with long-term goals than an operational plan that outlines the tasks that’ll help you to achieve those goals. Once you have an operational strategy, you can break it down into tasks to achieve its goals.

2. Set Goals and Objectives

The operational plan will ideally achieve the goals and objectives of your operational strategy. To make sure this happens, write down those goals and objectives to make sure they’re clear and everyone knows what they are.

3. Make a Budget

The budget funds the operational plan and allows managers to know what’s viable and what’s out of scope for the project. The budget is also instrumental in allocating the resources necessary to implement the operational plan.

4. Use Leading Indicators

By using leading indicators and predictive measurements, managers can forecast the outcomes of their operational plan. That informs the tasks and activities of the team and adds to the likelihood that they achieve favorable outcomes.

5. Communicate With the Team

Regular team meetings aid in the development of the operational plan. Team members will execute the plan and their insights prove valuable. It also keeps them updated on changes as the plan is developed, which helps them understand the overall plan and their role in it.

6. Use Reporting Tools

To make sure you’re keeping to the operational plan and that your team is accountable, you need reporting tools to track progress and performance. By monitoring a variety of project metrics, managers respond quickly if things are going off-track and get back on schedule without jeopardizing the project.

7. Keep Documentation

Document every step of your operational plan to track progress and measure improvements over time. This documentation also proves valuable when you’re working on a future operational plan, so be sure to archive it as well.

8. Review and Revise

An operational plan should be flexible. There will be challenges and changes over the course of its execution, so don’t look at the operational plan as written in stone. When there are changes, be sure to have regular meetings with your team to keep them updated.

Related: Free Change Log Template for Excel

Operational Planning vs. Strategic Planning

Operational planning and strategic planning are linked but different. A strategic plan outlines the necessary steps for an organization to achieve its goals and objectives. Operational plans are about the more short-term objectives of the organization.

Therefore, operational planning is updated annually, while strategic planning is used to guide an organization over a longer period of time. Also, the scope of a strategic plan is larger as it’s responding to the needs of the entire organization. Operational planning has a more limited scope, dealing mostly with a specific department or team.

Another difference is in who’s tasked with creating the plan. A strategic plan is usually under the purview of a top executive who’s dealing with the larger organization. Operational planning is led by mid-level managers and addresses the needs of their teams.

ProjectManager and Operational Planning

ProjectManager is online project management software that helps you plan, manage and track operational plans in real time. Plan and schedule resources and manage costs with our online Gantt chart that can be shared to keep everyone on the same page. Speaking of pages, all documentation is kept on our tool, which has unlimited file storage, so we’re also a central hub for all your operational planning documents.

Track Progress and Performance in Real Time

Your operational plan is supposed to support the larger operational strategy. To make sure it’s doing this, you need to monitor what your team is doing and if it’s tracking with the planned effort. Our real-time dashboard captures a high-level view of the progress and performance of the project across six metrics from time and cost to workload and more. Best of all, you don’t have to configure our dashboard as you do with other lightweight tools. Use our dashboard to track one project or your entire portfolio.

ProjectManager's portfolio dashboardProjectManager's portfolio dashboard
Automate Workflows and Boost Team Productivity

The operational strategy looks to improve efficiencies. Our automated workflow takes repetitive or simple tasks off your team’s desk to let them focus on more important tasks. You set the triggers that put into action such things on the task as changing the status, tags, assignee and more. To ensure quality, there are task approval settings that let only authorized team members allow the work to move forward.

ProjectManager's workflow automationProjectManager's workflow automation

Our software helps you turn your operational strategy into an operational plan that will deliver on your organization’s goals and objectives. Use our collaborative platform to keep everyone working better together, sharing files and commenting at the task level. You’re always working on the most current data no matter which project view you choose, from Gantt charts to kanban boards, calendars and lists.

ProjectManager is award-winning software that helps you manage your operational plans. Our real-time data helps managers make better decisions and connects teams to collaborate and increase their productivity. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

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Project Assumptions: A Quick Guide

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

Making assumptions is usually frowned upon. However, in project management, project assumptions are essential for planning a project. But how do project assumptions differ from the assumptions that often mislead us in our daily lives?

Let’s take a look at how project assumptions are defined in project management and why they’re so important. Then we’ll learn about a project assumption log and how assumptions differ from constraints and risk. We’ll even throw in a project assumption example for further clarity.

What Are Project Assumptions?

A project assumption is used in project planning to define a factor that’s true, real or certain, even if there isn’t proof. You have to presume that there are certain truths to proceed with planning your project.

That doesn’t mean that all project assumptions are true; sometimes they are and other times they aren’t. That’s why when you make a project assumption, you have to be very careful and analyze it well.

An assumption in project management can be an event or circumstance that one expects to happen over the life cycle of the project. You can think of it as an educated guess. Project managers usually have years of experience and have learned lessons from previous projects. That gives their assumptions more credibility than some novices.

Planning a project is based on many assumptions. The more reasonable those assumptions, the better the project. ProjectManager is online project management software that helps you turn assumptions into a viable project plan. Our interactive Gantt charts organize your tasks, link dependencies to avoid delays and even filter for the critical path. Then you can set a baseline to monitor project variance in real time to stay on track. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

Gantt chart in projectmanagerGantt chart in projectmanager
ProjectManager’s Gantt charts turn assumptions into workable project plans. Learn more

Why Are Project Assumptions Important?

Project assumptions are important because you can move forward without them. There’s simply no way to prove everything in a project plan. You’re estimating costs, duration and more. Assumptions open the door to the project and its planning.

By identifying project assumptions you’re able to better understand whether the project’s goals and activities are realistic and achievable given the timeframe you have. Analyzing assumptions is part of project risk management.

If you analyze your project assumptions and they’re proven wrong, you’re going to have to revise your project plan. That’s why project assumptions must be identified, tracked and managed throughout the life cycle of the project.

Creating a Project Assumptions Log

In order to identify, track and manage assumptions, you have to create a project assumptions log. This is a key piece of data for creating your project plan and reviewing it throughout the course of the project.

It’s during the initiation phase of a project that a project manager will make the assumption log. It informs the writing of the project charter. Here you’ll make high-level assumptions. Assumptions based on tasks, which are considered a lower level, are made during the execution of the project.

Though you create the project assumption log during an early stage of the project, it should be regularly reviewed and revised. Then you can close false assumptions and continue to track active ones.

When making an assumption log be sure to include the following for each assumption.

  • The date assumption is logged
  • What category it is, such as budget, scheduling, etc.
  • Name and describe the assumption
  • Impact of assumption, such as high, medium or low
  • Rate uncertainty of assumption from high, medium to low
  • Assign an owner who is responsible for the assumption
  • Define a plan of action to mitigate the impact if the assumption is true
  • Set date for next assumption review
  • Note the status of the assumption, such as closed or open

Project Assumptions vs. Project Constraints

Project assumptions are one of many things that a project manager must consider as they work on building the project plan. Let’s discuss some other things that a project manager must identify at the beginning of the project in order to deliver it successfully.

As we’ve discussed, a project assumption is what’s believed true in a project. This can be an event or circumstances that are likely to occur over the course of the project’s life cycle. The project manager is able to make such assumptions about the project because they have experience, can research historical data and seek the advice of experts.

A project constraint is a limitation to the project. This can be anything from the budget to the schedule and resources that’ll be needed to execute the project. According to the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Book of Knowledge, (PMBOK), there are six constraints in projects: scope, quality, schedule, budget, resources and risk.

As with project assumptions, these constraints are identified at the beginning of the project and create boundaries in which the project will be executed. Typically, there are two types of constraints. Business constraints are high-level issues that depend on your organization. It’s rare for these constraints to change. Technical constraints are those that limit design choices. They’re fixed and changes to them will impact the project plan.

The differences are that assumptions are thought to be true but constraints are true. Assumptions tend to be good for the project while constraints aren’t. If an assumption is proven false it can be bad for the project, while false constraints are good.

Project Assumptions vs. Project Risks

It’s clear that project assumptions mean something that is going to happen. You can look at project risk in a similar way. Risks can be good or bad, but they are also assumptions. If a risk in fact appears in the project, it’s no longer a risk but an issue and a problem that must be either resolved or leveraged.

But project assumptions and project risk, though similar, aren’t the same. They differ in their point of view. If a risk happens, the project is affected either positively or negatively. However, if an assumption doesn’t happen over the life cycle of the project, the project is affected.

Examples of Project Assumptions

We’ve discussed assumptions and how important they are for project planning. They’re such a critical part of planning that you need to maintain a project assumptions log. We’ve also discussed how project assumptions share commonalities with project constraints and risks and how they differ.

Before we wrap up, let’s explore a few examples. Project assumption examples help put abstract definitions into the real world, which is where they exist in your project. Let’s take a quick look at some of the assumptions that can occur over the course of managing a project.

One of the assumptions you make is that you’ll have all the resources you need to complete the project within the timeframe allowed. That means, skilled team members, equipment, materials, etc. Maybe you’re assuming that those team members will be available and not on vacation. You’re assuming that the timeframe of the project won’t occur over a major holiday that could disrupt production.

It could be something as seemingly trivial as assuming all stakeholders will be present at your meetings. This might not appear to be a big deal, but if you know your stakeholders’ expectations then you’re not going to have all the information you require to plan accordingly.

Another assumption is that the equipment you have is in good working order. It should be maintained and at the ready so you can, say, manufacture those widgets that the marketplace desperately needs. But if machinery needs repair or replacement, you can’t feed that demand before your competitors.

There there are your suppliers. If you’re in construction, you need to have the materials on site when scheduled. Likely, you have good relationships with your vendors and suppliers. They will deliver as expected. But if they don’t, then the project will probably not meet the deadline, which could have a domino effect that you definitely don’t want.

ProjectManager Helps Track Project Assumptions

To avoid those false assumptions, you need project management software that can track live data. ProjectManager is online project management software that can keep track of your project assumptions in real time. That allows project managers to make more insightful decisions. Plus, our risk management tools help you identify, track and mitigate risk in your projects.

Monitor in Real Time With Live Dashboards

Project managers need to check their progress and performance throughout the project’s life cycle. Our real-time dashboards give them a high-level view whenever they want. There’s no setup required and our tool automatically collects and calculates six project metrics that are displayed in easy-to-read graphs and charts.
dashboard showing project metrics in real-time

dashboard showing project metrics in real-time

Manage Resources to Keep on Schedule

You make an assumption that your resources will perform as expected. If you note a workload issue on the real-time dashboard, just toggle over to the workload chart. It’s color-coded, which makes it easy to see who is overallocated and who needs more work. Then balance the team’s workload from the chart. It’s as simple as that.

ProjectManager's workload chartProjectManager's workload chart

Our tool also makes it easy to see your team’s availability when scheduling tasks, track the time they spend on those tasks with secure timesheets and give them a collaborative platform to share files, comment and work better together. The one assumption you can be sure is true is that ProjectManager will help you deliver a successful project.

ProjectManager is award-winning software that helps you plan, schedule and track projects. Our risk, task and resource management features help you better manage projects. Join the teams at NASA, Siemens and Nestle who already use our software to deliver success. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

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How to Plan a Virtual Event: Virtual Event Planning Checklist

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

Businesspeople tend to prefer meeting in person. But after a period of virtual events, it’s hard to let go of that digital luxury. Virtual event planning has become commonplace even as events return to IRL or offer hybrid options.

The desire to remain virtual in some cases is understandable. Virtual event planning means that more people can attend regardless of where they are. But how to plan for a virtual event is still relatively new and some don’t even know what a virtual event is. We’re here to help you plan for a virtual event, including providing you with a checklist so you don’t miss any key steps.

What Is a Virtual Event?

Virtual events take place online. This can be accomplished through a variety of means, such as live streaming the event, playing a recorded video presentation that can be viewed whenever a participant wants or even through audio calls.

The main difference between a virtual event and an in-person event is that virtual events aren’t face-to-face physical meetings. Anyone who can access the internet is a potential candidate for attending a virtual event.

Needless to add, this significantly widens the net both for speakers and attendees. However, virtual events require planning just as you would for the old-fashioned variety. But it’s not the same. You can go live on Facebook or some other social platform whenever you want, but a larger, more complicated event requires planning.

Think of a convention or industry-related event that could go on for several days, these are definitely going to require virtual event planning. ProjectManager is online software that gives you the tools to connect with people anywhere and at any time so you can coordinate how to plan a virtual event. Our online Gantt charts can organize your tasks, costs and resources. They’re easy to share and update in real time to keep everyone aligned. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

ProjectManager's Gantt chartProjectManager's Gantt chart
ProjectManager’s Gantt chart helps with virtual event planning. Learn more

Types of Virtual Events

We’ve already mentioned a few types of virtual events in passing, but the topic deserves more attention. There are many different types of virtual events and each requires virtual event planning in order to make sure that they’re a success for all involved. You’ve probably attended one or two of these.

Webinars

A webinar is usually a one-off event used to provide educational or promotional content. It’s presented in real time, though is often also recorded so people can view it later. After the presentation, there’s usually a period open for questions and answers.

Virtual Conferences

As the name implies, this conference is online. It’s usually a real-time event that attracts people of similar interests, whether that’s related to business or some kind of hobby. They can include panel discussions, keynote speakers, online vendor booths and even virtual cocktail hours.

Virtual Corporate Events

Similar to a virtual conference, virtual corporate events are more focused. Attendees are all part of the larger corporation, but the event itself could be for a variety of reasons. It could be an all-hands meeting or retreat, wine-tasting event or any other number of business or more casual gatherings. The only common denominator is that the event is open only to those in the corporation.

Virtual Team Building Events

A virtual team-building event could be part of a larger corporate event. It’s no different than team building in person, except it occurs online. The activities can be the same, such as icebreakers, group fitness and more. Some events will have to be retooled in order to work online, but the goal to build stronger bonds between team members remains the same.

Virtual Hiring Events

One of the more innovative ways to use virtual events is as a hiring platform. A virtual hiring event offers employees the opportunity to interview candidates for open positions. As more companies are open to remote work, virtual hiring allows them to seek out talent from across the globe rather than just within commuting distance.

Virtual Social Events

Getting together virtually has also gained in popularity. Many families who are spread out geographically can reunite online, marriage parties can include those who can’t physically make it to the wedding and friends who are no longer in the same locale can get together for a drink and catch up.

Virtual Event Planning Checklist

Now that we know what a virtual event is and how many different types there are, you’re ready to learn virtual event planning. In fact, you’ve probably already attended some kind of virtual event, even if it’s talking to someone on Zoom.

Virtual event planning, though, is more involved. To make sure that you’re checking all the boxes, we’ve assembled a checklist that can be used for almost any of the virtual event types we outlined above.

1. Set Goals for Your Virtual Event

You can’t measure success until you have a set of metrics. Whatever your virtual event might be, you have to decide beforehand what you hope for it to achieve. Do you want to collect emails, distribute eBooks, promote your brand, network with industry professionals, show how to use a new product, etc.? Whatever the goal you decide on will then inform the rest of the event so don’t start without one.

2. Define Your Target Audience

In order to achieve your goals, you must know your target audience. These are your potential customers for a product, fellow professionals for a conference and so forth. This step requires a great deal of research. The better you can define the target audience for the virtual event, the more you can customize the virtual event to meet their needs.

3. Choose Your Event Type

All of the work you’ve done on the first two steps will inform your choice of venue. Here you’ll decide if the event will be live-streamed or recorded (or both), determine if a webinar better suits your purpose and so on. The type of virtual event will help you choose a streaming partner or service to deliver your event to the attendees.

4. Build a Digital Marketing Campaign

Once the above is sorted, you have to get the word out. That means creating a marketing plan. Since you’re virtual event planning, you’ll likely want to market online as well. Though you could also create postcards to snail mail and other old-school promotion tools. For our purposes, we’ll stick to digital marketing.

Promote on Social Media

Social media is a good place to start spreading the word. Use hashtags that your target audience might be following to get them to see your posts. Also, try to determine which platforms they use; business people tend to be on LinkedIn, while others prefer Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Reddit, etc.

Create a Website

If you have a website, that’s the obvious place to start marketing. Create a dedicated page for the event and banner ads to display throughout your site, with a call to action to attend. You’ll want to make the site show up as high as possible in the search results. This requires researching keywords that your target audience uses when searching online. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key tool to attracting the right people to your site.

Use Online Ads

The two previous suggestions are under the umbrella of organic marketing. The flip side to that is paid media, which includes buying ads on other sites. Search engine marketing (SEM) is a technique to improve your online marketing.

5. Find Speakers, Moderators and Other Key Participants

Again, depending on the type of virtual event you’re planning, you might need keynote speakers, a moderator for panel discussions and others who are there to inform the audience. If so, you need to find them and have funds to pay for their appearance, but also accommodations, such as hotels, food and travel if the event is hybrid (meaning both online and in person).

6. Create a Virtual Event Agenda

Agendas are important documents that keep all meetings on point and avoid wasting time. This is doubly true for virtual events. You need to coordinate your speakers and any other presentations. There’s usually an introduction, a break for breakfast or lunch and so forth. Creating a virtual event agenda organizes the event but also provides a guide for those in attendance.

7. Pick a Date & Time Zone

Even if you record the event for future viewing, you need a date and time to kick off the virtual event. Remember, that this is a global happening. Anyone, from anywhere, can attend. That means you have to pick a time zone in which it will take place so people in other time zones who attend will know when to log on to the virtual event.

Related: Free Event Plan Template for Excel

8. Choose a Virtual Event Platform

There are many services that can host your event online, but you need to contract these services earlier than later. The last thing you want is be unable to broadcast your event to attendees because you neglected to contract with a provider. Here are a few different event platforms for live streaming or pre-recorded videos.

  • Zoom
  • Google Meet
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Webex Events

9. Pick a Venue

A virtual event must take place in a physical space. Whether you’re planning a virtual or hybrid event, you need to rent a venue. Yes, it’s possible that all speakers just phone in their presentations from their home or office, but that only further complicates matters and doesn’t always come across as professional. You’ll want to rent a studio or some other place that has cameras, good microphones and so forth to have a professional presentation.

10. Record Your Virtual Event

It’s a good idea to record your event so it lives beyond the actual virtual event and can continue to serve your goals for an extended period. Most platforms have an option for recording and then you can share the link or host the recording on your website.

11. Gather Feedback After Your Virtual Event

You’ll want to have some kind of follow-up with the audience. It’s always good marketing to collect their emails not only to continue to market to these people but get their feedback on the event. This is valuable data to help you better develop and manage the next virtual meeting you’re planning.

ProjectManager Helps You Plan Virtual Events

Virtual event planning requires a flexible tool that can connect people anywhere and at any time, as well as across departments to foster collaboration. ProjectManager is online project management software with the features you need for virtual event planning as well as managing the execution of that plan.

Plan With Multiple Project Views

Virtual event planning involves a lot of different people, especially when planned by a corporation. That means different departments have to work together, from marketing to sales. But each department works differently. We give them the tools they’re comfortable working with. Gantt charts are great for the overall organization, but list views collect tasks and kanban boards show the workflow in a visual setting. Some prefer the calendar view to keep track of important dates. Regardless, all views are updated together in real time so everyone is always working from the most current data.

ProjectManager's kanban boardProjectManager's kanban board
Collaborate in Real Time

Having everyone on the team use the tools that they’re most comfortable with is only the start. In order for them to collaborate, those tools must deliver data in real time. Our collaborative platform not only updates all project views at the same time but gives everyone the ability to share files, comment at the task level and tag others if needed. Our unlimited file storage means all your event assets can be shared on a centralized hub for easy access. Everything they’ll need to do their job is on the tool.

ProjectManager's task card with commentingProjectManager's task card with commenting

Managers get visibility into what everyone’s doing. They can check progress and performance at a high level whenever they want with our real-time dashboards or generate customizable reports to dig deeper into the data. Task management features to boost productivity to keep you on schedule and deliver a successful virtual event.

ProjectManager is award-winning software that helps you plan, schedule and track events in real time. With features that run the gamut from resource management to risk management and beyond, you have all the tools you need for virtual event planning. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

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What Is a Scrum Master? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

Scrum is an agile project management methodology that helps teams manage projects across industries. However, scrum, as with other methodologies, can only benefit organizations when applied correctly. That’s where a scrum master comes into play.

What Is a Scrum Master?

A scrum master is responsible for ensuring that the scrum is implemented correctly in an organization. To do so, the scrum master helps organizations set up a scrum framework, which is made up of meetings, roles and responsibilities, techniques and tools which are required for a smooth scrum process.

Not everyone on the team will have the same understanding of scrum concepts like sprints, product backlog or user stories. That’s especially true for teams new to scrum project management.

Without a scrum master promoting and supporting the process and helping product owners and team members understand the theory, practice, rules and values of scrum, the project can flounder and fail.

To collaborate with teams and help them plan, schedule and track their work, scrum masters need project management software like ProjectManager. With ProjectManager, you can use kanban boards to plan agile sprints, manage your product backlog with task lists, create a product roadmap with online Gantt charts and much more. Get started for free.

ProjectManager's Kanban boards are ideal for a scrum masterProjectManager's Kanban boards are ideal for a scrum master
ProjectManager’s online kanban boards are ideal to manage agile sprints. Learn more

What Does a Scrum Master Do?

While a scrum master is a crucial member of the scrum project management team, a scrum master doesn’t act as a project manager; a scrum team is self-organizing. In fact, a scrum master isn’t responsible for the success of the project.

The scrum master has several roles and responsibilities in a project. One way to look at the scrum master is as a servant leader. They’re not part of a hierarchy, giving orders or demanding ROI.

Instead, they take a more holistic approach to product development or software development, offering their scrum project management knowledge to others while promoting a sense of community and supporting a shared decision-making power inside the scrum team.

Scrum Master Roles

Here are some of the main roles of a scrum master:

  • The scrum master serves the product owner by making sure that the goals, scope and product domain are clear to everyone on the scrum team.
  • Scrum masters offer agile project management techniques and tools to manage the product backlog effectively and help the scrum team members know that there is a need to prioritize urgent user stories in the product backlog.
  • The scrum master plays constantly dispenses information to project stakeholders about where the current agile sprint and product or software development effort stand. This can be done via the various scrum artifacts (i.e. product backlogs, scrum meetings to burndown charts) and common-sense project management communication efforts.
  • Scrum masters also know project planning in an empirical environment. Naturally, a scrum master is adept at planning agile sprints and can lead agile teams. They’re responsible for setting up scrum meetings as needed to direct or pass on information about the process.

Scrum Master Responsibilities

When it comes to scrum master responsibilities, the main goal of a scrum master is to act as an agile coach, helping scrum teams to self-organize and work cross-functionally to better manage their product backlog and maximize their efficiency. Here are some of the core responsibilities of a scrum master.

  • Scrum masters assist with getting the team to create a high-value product by removing obstacles in their scrum process and coaching them through daily scrum meetings or other venues when help is needed.
  • Use scrum tools such as scrum boards to manage the team’s workload
  • The scrum team should be able to count on the scrum master to clear the path ahead of them, by removing roadblocks or prioritizing user stories in the product backlog. This will allow them to focus on the user stories that are currently on their plate to get them done as efficiently and effectively as possible.
  • Finally, the scrum master also helps the organization by leading and coaching the transition into a scrum framework. In this capacity, the scrum master will lead change that increases the productivity of the team while working with other scrum masters and product owners to help foster the use of the scrum methodology throughout the organization.

Now that we’ve looked at the main scrum master roles and responsibilities, let’s see how they compare to project managers and product managers.

Scrum Master vs. Project Manager

Both scrum masters and product owners are involved in the process of managing the product backlog of an agile project. They’re both aware of the user stories that are needed to deliver a successful product.

Related: Free Agile Sprint Plan Template

But the main difference between them is how they contribute to the scrum process. Product owners plan in the medium or long term while scrum masters are concerned about the daily performance of scrum teams.

Scrum Master vs. Product Owner

Project managers are responsible for developing project plans that have all the project management guidelines to successfully manage projects, which cover areas such as scheduling, planning, risk management, among others.

How to Become a Scrum Master

What’s the pathway to becoming a scrum master? The most linear course to becoming a scrum master is through formal scrum master training and certification. There are several organizations that offer scrum master certification programs.

For example, the Project Management Institute (PMI) has a scrum master training program called “Disciplined Agile Scrum Master” (DASM) which certifies you as a professional scrum master.

Similarly, the Scrum Alliance offers a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) distinction that teaches the candidate how to get scrum teams to work at their highest levels.

Scrum Master Certifications

Scrum master training programs teach the fundamentals of scrum project management and help one become intimate with what the scrum team roles are, what events are and what artifacts are, among other fundamental aspects of scrum.

Disciplined Agile Scrum Master (DASM) by PMI

This scrum master training course will certify you as a scrum master who’s capable of leading agile teams and implementing project management methodologies like agile, kanban, lean and scrum.

DASM Requirements

This scrum training program doesn’t have any entry requirements. The PMI created it for people who are unfamiliar with scrum but want to obtain a scrum master certification.

DASM Certification Exam

The DASM exam contains 50 multiple-choice questions. You’ll need to answer questions about agile and lean methodologies, kanban and scrum project management techniques.

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) by Scrum Alliance

A CSM is a professional scrum master who’s capable of applying scrum project management techniques across industries and implementing scrum processes in projects and organizations.

Certified ScrumMaster Requirements

The requirements for CSM certification are fairly minimal. First, have some familiarity with the scrum framework. Then there’s a two-day, 16-hour course, which is taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer, who provides an overview of how to organize and support a scrum team.

ScrumMaster Certification Exam

The exam contains 35 multiple-choice questions, where 24 must be answered correctly for a passing grade. The test covers the history of scrum and the basics of the process. Specific topics include product backlogs, planning releases, problems that can occur, scalability, scrum roles, sprints, how to conduct daily scrum meetings, tasks, reports and team organization.

Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certifications

The Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certification by Scrum.org is a two-day course that will teach you the basics of Agile and Scrum and how you can apply these methodologies in your organization. In addition to this, Scrum.org offers two more certification programs, PSM II and PSM III, which build upon the knowledge from PSM and expand your abilities as a scrum master.

SAFe Scrum Master (SSM)

This scrum master training is designed for those who want to help organizations implement agile and scrum at scale. It not only teaches about the different tools and techniques a scrum master should know about but also focuses on leadership.

ProjectManager Helps Scrum Masters

A scrum master is just that, a master at scrum. And while they can guide and inform the scrum team on best practices, they aren’t going to do the work for them. A scrum master will, however, tell the scrum team that they need to have the right tools for their sprint.

ProjectManager is online project management software that gives scrum teams real-time data to pivot quickly as requirements change. The dashboard collects status updates and instantly translates them into easy-to-read charts, giving teams the information to respond to changes fast.

ProjectManager's live project dashboards are ideal for any scrum masterProjectManager's live project dashboards are ideal for any scrum master

Backlog Grooming and Collaboration

Any scrum master will tell you the importance of maintaining your product backlog, and ProjectManager has kanban boards that collect user stories that can be filtered by priority and more to keep your backlog well-groomed. Then use the board view to plan your sprint and provide transparency into the workflow for the product owner.

ProjectManager's kanban boards are perfect for scrum teams and scrum masters alikeProjectManager's kanban boards are perfect for scrum teams and scrum masters alike

Don’t worry about the scrum team or even the stakeholders having a hard time getting up to speed with our tool. The onboarding process is quick and easy, the UI is simple to understand and the fact that it’s online means anyone can access it at any time. When you put it together, it’s clear that ProjectManager is the most robust scrum software on the market. Try it today!

Related Content

There are many moving parts to implementing a scrum framework for your organization. That’s why we’ve created blogs, guides and templates for those who are getting started with scrum.

Do you want to be a scrum master? It’s a cool title, but it’s more than a name. There’s a lot of responsibility and having the right tools to facilitate the scrum process is key to any scrum master’s success. ProjectManager is online project management software that works with self-organizing scrum teams and sprints. Be a scrum master with ProjectManager by taking this free 30-day trial.

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