March 27, 2009

Setting the Table for the Implementation

For this blog entry I have focused on the first two questions from our Tech Brief: How good is your understanding of your current marketing process standards? and Do you have a clearly defined scope and success criteria for the implementation phase?

I believe these two topics are intertwined and go hand in hand. Only with a firm understanding of both your current processes and Key Performance Indicators (KPI), will you be able to emerge from your EMM implementation (i.e. Campaign Management , Marketing Resource Management, etc.), with a holistic view on all the areas where improvement was made.

So let’s begin with: How good is your understanding of your current marketing process standards?

With many different marketing teams (copy, graphics, marketing operations, legal) coming together to produce campaigns, it is difficult to know every process taking place, in what order they take place and how those contributing teams truly interact. For instance:

  • Do you know how many hours were spent at each step in the campaign production cycle from idea and creative to approval to deployment?
  • What are your true labor rates?
  • How many hours should you really bill to internal customers for your teams efforts?
  • What metrics and methods are used in calculating KPI and ROI?
  • How is the marketing cycle closed (i.e. response tracking) and who owns the marketing contact ‘System of Record’?
  • What are all of the business rules that go in to the marketing campaigns?

It is essential that your current marketing processes are completely understood– knowing every step in the process by who and how it happened. You may need to do some up front leg work, but by putting in the effort to outline your processes it will help in identifying all of the steps involved and making it that much easier to explain and share with others. I understand that this can seem overwhelming at first, so I would suggest starting one process at a time, for instance: try to understand all of the steps and business groups that go into putting together something like a monthly email newsletter. Remember to take in to account everything from copy, graphics, legal approval, and email contacts, including who has opted out and which emails have bounced back and are no longer valid.

By having all these processes documented and truly understood, when it comes to begin your EMM project, you’ll be ahead of the game.

Question #2 Do you have a clearly defined scope and success criteria for the implementation phase?

Though it may seem like a simple task, defining scope is an important step in your EMM project. Scope, provides boundaries and goals in which the project team can focus on and drive towards. Scope, can be as simple as identifying your department’s pain points and deciding which areas to fix first. For example, you know your team spends hours each campaign collecting contact information and formatting that information to be utilized. This makes it difficult to run quick, ad hoc campaigns and you also know that you could be missing some sales opportunities by not having your data ready to use at a moments’ notice – you now have a clear scope: fix the contact DB.

It is important for the success of the project to have a clearly defined scope early, including timelines, budgets and accomplishments. By having this, all of the participants, from developers to stakeholders, can be aligned on what the project is to accomplish by when and for how much. Additionally, defining the scope up front will help the team recognize “scope creep.” Scope creep can be classified as adding to, or extending, the goals that you originally set for the project. And if you have many pain points to fix, I would suggesting ordering them from most to least severe and create phases/milestones to your project. This will help keep the project team focused on the short term goals while at the same time allow them to see the long term vision of what is trying to be accomplished.

What is an easy way to define success criteria, Key Performance Indicators!! A term commonly used in most companies and business schools, they are more important than we give them credit for. I remember my first campaign management implementation (wow – 10 years ago); I was the client. Before the software evaluation stage, I spent weeks gathering information on where all our data was, how many contacts, emails and phone numbers we had, but I also spent a great deal of time figuring out how much time we spent putting together email lists, manually sending leads to sales and how much time it took to calculate campaign ROI.

After our software was installed and we were off and running with happy users, I recalculated all the previous KPIs. The actual ROIs of the campaigns were much higher than expected, we had excellent supporting data and the labor was reduced by more than half. Our CMO was thrilled! He was now able to allocate new jobs to people due to the amount of reduced time spent on manual items that were now automated. Also, we had a great campaign ROI for EVERY campaign EVERY time!! And – we had all the data to back up our ROIs. The marketing department was all of a sudden the corporate hero and other departments now had a higher bar to meet. What was fantastic is that not only were we able to calculated the overall marketing software project ROI based on our increased sales, but also the amount of labor each year that was saved. On manually sending leads to sales we saved over $30,000 per year on labor.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, these two topics go hand in hand. These are all parts of the overall EMM project that should be completed before the project ever begins, maybe even before you begin your software evaluation process. Here is the bottom line:

  • DOCUMENT PROCESSES: Without process document, marketing software consultants spend more time on discovery and documenting this information
  • SCOPE: this is the goal of the project; its boundaries. Keep it defined and communicated to everyone involved. This will help keep you on time and on budget!
  • SUCCESS CRITERIA: Without KPIs and establishing success criteria, how can you clearly know what improvements have been made and your true marketing software project ROI? In the end, those KPIs are great in identifying a job well done and let’s be honest, we all want those kudos!!

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