Published on 20 November 2012
For example, I learned about below-the-line or BTL advertising today. Below-the-line advertising strategies use niche outreach tactics such as gifts, promotions or advertising on niche media to reach their customers. Given the multiple objects and parameters involved in its generation, tracking and managing large BTL projects can be confusing and error-prone. This week's solution promises to make the job easier.
This week, we will r eview Activity Management System BTL, an application that enables advertising agencies to collect, manage, and analyze BTL project data. We will look at its interface, features, and see how it can be of use to you.
The founders for the Activity Management System BTL got the idea for the solution during a stint developing information systems for the distribution sector. The solution they developed consisted of three parts: a data collection tool, an analytics solution, and task management capabilities. "It was then that we had an idea to design a system that would provide not only task management functions but would also link tasks with data obtained by employees during their work," says Semyon, a co-founder. The main idea behind the solution, according to Semyon, is a combination of multiple ideas including data-based project management and monitoring and analytical and planning capabilities.
According to Semyon, the main benefit of the solution for small advertising agencies is the fact that the solution bundles multiple features together. This means that agencies can assign work, monitor progress, and also manage tasks using the solution. "The system will allow one manager to control dozens of field employees, easily customizing planning and reporting to the constantly changing needs of customers," says Semyon. He adds that the solution also offers analytics services including report preparation and detailed analysis. "All this can be done with little money," he says, referring to the application's subscription costs.
Because it goes above and beyond traditional project management solution features, Activity Management System BTL is a "data-driven project management tool," according to Semyon. He provides three uses of the solution to justify this moniker: task management, data modeling and analysis of project data using OLAP tools.
The basic unit within Activity Management System BTL is indicator. Project indicators are metrics that you want to track during the project. For example, if your advertising campaign involves handouts or gifts then you can set them up as project indicators within the system. The good part about the system is that project indicators can be organized at multiple levels. Thus, you can assign categories and create heirarchical structures for your indicators.
Each indicator is associated with several other parameters including location and dates. The indicators are part of the overall project plan, which you must enter next. The plan is closely based on Outlook calendar; hence, according to Semyon, anyone who has ever used Outlook calendar will be able to use the plan. I thought the most interesting and useful feature of the solution lay in its flexibility. You can slice and dice project data in several ways. Activity Management System BTL uses a drag and drop interface; this means you can drag required parameters into rows and columns and generate reports around them. Thus, you can generate indicators that pertain to a wide variety of metrics related to your project from performance to financial. You can also generate several Excel-related functions with the system. Thus, you can generate reports related to pivot tables.
I can already foresee several uses for the system. For example, it can be used as a stand-alone project management solution or used in conjunction with other project management tools. According to their website, the application can be used for non-advertising related projects as well because the application primarily works as a data management application. Semyon says their team is already at work planning integration with popular tools such as Quickbooks, Salesforce, and Google apps.
As I mentioned earlier, the system uses a drag and drop interface. Data is organized into rows and columns. You can drag elements from the sidebar into rows and columns to create customized reports. As a result, the learning curve involved in working with the system elements are minimal. In addition, Activity Management System BTL closely mimics a Microsoft interface. Hence, anyone who has used Excel will be able to use the system.
They offer a mobile application that can be used for data collection in conjunction with the main application. Using HTML5 technology, the application can be run directly in the mobile browser on any modern smartphone or communicator and supports a wide range of mobile platforms (IOS, Android, and Windows Phone 7).
The key benefit is that the manager without any delays using the main application can review data that just added through the mobile application (instead of waiting until the employee get to the office).
This is one area where the founders could improve their services. Currently, support is limited to email. In addition, the application has a helpful FAQ page that lists several frequently-asked questions. Given the rise of multiple channels such as social media and phone, it might be an idea for the founders to include additional support capabilities.
Although it can be used for general project management as well, I love the fact that the solution hones in one data generated during a project. With improvements in support capabilities, there is no reason why you should not invest in Activity Management System BTL.