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What is the best software to use for tracking Marketing Projects?

Mindy Bradford's Profile

Our marketing team would like to be able to track Actuals vs. Forecast/Budget at an individual project level basis.  They currently use Excel spreadsheets, which are difficult to maintain.  So I was wondering if there was an off-the-shelf tool that they might be able to use to get faster visibility to their project spend in a given month.  Any insights would be greatly appreciated (as this is a significant spend item for our company).


Jason Chroman
Title: Vice President Finance & Controller
Company: Tubular Labs
LinkedIn Profile
(Vice President Finance & Controller, Tubular Labs) |

One goal should be to have one consistent data set between finance and marketing, so that marketing has numbers that foot with the G/L. For that to happen, finance should send marketing a transaction level extract, in excel format. That extract should have the GL account numbers in it. If the data does not have specific project codes, Marketing will have to tag each transaction for a specific project. From there, a simple pivot table can be used to summarize the data by project and do a budget to actual comparison.

Topic Expert
Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Mindy - the solution is somewhat simple, but it is dependent on your accounting system and its flexibility in the chart of account structure. Some vendors include a feature where you can add an identifier/additional field in your transaction coding that represents a project such as a marketing project. This works if what your marketing folk really need a "cost collection" bucket for each project.
If you'd like to discuss more, let me know.

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

I probably go against the grain on this one, but I don't like managing the business from the general ledger. Adding G/L account number after G/L account number just means a chart of accounts that becomes to complex to manage. My preference is to build subsystems that then feed the ledger. This allows for the analysis to be done in the details that tie to the G/L on a rolled up basis, but can be obsoleted when it is no longer needed. Unfortunately, Mindy, I can't recommend software as we build ours in house.

(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist) |

Mark, I agree with your philosophy, and would like to expand on my comment earlier. If all you need is a 'cost collection bucket' for these types of projects, then a PSA/project sub ledger can become overkill (and also the ROI is missing because the added functionality costs too much).

In the 'cost collection bucket' scenario, users are looking to track budget and actual costs by simply tracking the project ID in the transaction (whether an AP invoice, expense report, or journal entry). An accounting system that can do that is very valuable. Last year I helped a client with such a need select such a package.

Chris Hering
Title: Industry Manager, Advertising Vertical
Company: NetSuite
(Industry Manager, Advertising Vertical, NetSuite) |

Mindy- There are many tools out there that can manage projects or manage financials, the challenge is finding a single solution that has flexibility for the creative and dynamic project team, while maintaining a framework that is also understood/integrated by/to finance and other parts of the executive suite.
Full disclosure; I work for NetSuite, a Software Business Solution leader, as the Vertical Industry Manager for Marketing and Publishing.
For 10+ years I've worked with clients on this important balance of control and flexibility. The power of a suite with Project and Resources (PSA) solution and a Financial platform offers the best solution. PM's are able to have the right people on the right project at the right time, to therefore hit budget and deliverables. At the same time Finance has the financial visibility for real-time profitability and efficient and timely billing. I would encourage you to look at this type of a solution.
Purchasing a cloud off-the-shelf solution allows you to focus on your business growth and infrastructure and integrations. In my role I've seen many internal groups as well as independent agencies thrive on the solution that empowers the PM's and gives Finance the tools it needs for internal accountability and client management.

Maria Marsala
Title: Financial Advisor Coach, Speaker, Author
Company: Elevating Your Business
(Financial Advisor Coach, Speaker, Author, Elevating Your Business) |

Mindy... are there more than 8 items you're watching?

Mindy Bradford
Title: Finance Director - Accounting & Planning
Company: Newark/element 14
(Finance Director - Accounting & Planning, Newark/element 14) |

Yes, we have MANY campaigns/projects that we are watching at any one time across a number of different Marketing Team Leads.

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