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6 March 2007

Marketing Projects: Projects fail. Can marketing help?

I am exploring whether applying marketing principals to projects has the potential to improve project success rates. The sorts of projects I am talking about here are things like implementation of new enterprise systems such as CRMs, data warehouses and the like.

In the previous post I looked at what success means for a project and came to the conclusion that it’s a complex issue, but for the sake of this discussion we’ll call it a happy customer.

I have also looked at how projects support corporate marketing strategies and where marketing sits in the modern organisation.

In this post I had planned to look directly at how marketing can help projects, but before I go into that let me spend a few minutes differentiating marketing from change management (aka implementation management.)

Effective change management is widely acknowledged in the Project Management industry as a critical area that needs to be addressed by the industry (Badham et al, 2001.) The how-to of change management is less clearly understood. I propose a marketing framework for managing the activities of change management.

By the way, each time I write “change management” in this context I realise that the usual PM lexicon uses the term differently. What I am talking about here is implementing the change into the organisation. The “change management” of the PMBOK should really, in my opinion, be called Scope Management. Anyway; my definition: Change Management is the bit in the project lifecycle where the receiving organisation changes from it’s old state into its new fangled future state, using whatever products the project has created.

So, change management is an important step in the project lifecycle. It can (and should) begin right up the front, but it’s at the end that it really happens and the change management activities are executed. Whichever methods and activities are used they are about the handover from the project to the owners of the system/process/product, and about the transition from the current state to the future state.

I have written about change management methods and approaches here before and probably will again. For now, let me say that change management is the activities that form the handover to and transformation of your client. Marketing is something else again and can be a part of the change management activities, but is also separate from it.