What does it really take to implement a martech solution? In reality, it is much more involved than most would expect, and often requires more resources and investment than many marketing leaders typically expect. However, it is imperative to budget and staff accordingly to ensure the success and stability of any martech implementation, and it will prevent myriad potential costly issues and negative business impacts down the line.
Therefore, we want to share the following insights so that marketers who may soon be undergoing new software procurement and implementation know what to expect, and can plan and budget accordingly.
Our formula for a successful implementation of a martech solution includes:
What do we mean by Orchestration? Orchestration is what moves the implementation project forward. Most, if not all, large organizations have siloed IT departments, each having their own specialty (database, security, infrastructure, etc.). Organizing and setting accountabilities within these groups requires someone to make it happen.
But isn’t that the job of a project manager (PM)? Yes and no. From an overall project perspective, PMs are essential for managing deadlines and budgets, updating status, aligning resources, getting approvals, etc. What project managers don’t do is the micro-planning tied to the actual work. They don’t necessarily have the technical expertise to align specific tasks and requirements for a successful implementation.
This is where technical architects and implementation experts come in.
When you’re in the trenches daily, you can ensure resource management occurs at an efficient pace and experts with key knowledge and skillsets are effectively engaged at the right times, on the right tasks, and to the right degree.
We engage with a broad spectrum of different functional experts and leaders across teams, and help direct PMs on which personnel need to be included in discussions. We have to be able to talk the same language as IT so it is clear what is required to achieve the project goals.
2. Technical Knowledge Sharing
Before any implementation project comes to a close, it is critically necessary to ensure that all of the business and technical stakeholders and teams are enabled and equipped to take on full ownership of their new system(s) moving forward. This is where effective knowledge sharing and change management plays an important role in implementations.
As solution consultants and architects, we pride ourselves in being knowledgeable in many, if not all, flavors of infrastructure platforms and the many combinations that comprise those technology stacks.
Each customer has a different technology stack combo and as experts we are tasked with assessing how the martech solution fits in their environment. Understanding a customer’s upstream and downstream data flow is key to asking the right questions and providing the correct solutions.
Knowledge sharing and education is required so that a customer’s IT organization understands how the martech solution will impact their infrastructure and how to support it going forward. As stated above, having the knowledge to precisely set expectations works hand-in-hand with orchestration. Planning the knowledge sharing may be hours heavy on the front-end, but ultimately, this will allow the project team to hit the ground running at the onset of the implementation while paying dividends on the back-end with trained internal support.
3. Configuration Nuances
So, what’s worse than failing the initial operational test of a martech solution? Discovering that a simple configuration tweak (not stated in the official documentation) would have yielded more favorable results and prevented hours of troubleshooting headaches.
As solutions subject matter experts, experience has shown us that martech solution implementations aren’t as simple, or as straightforward, as installing software on your PC/Mac. Planning efforts ensure that solution requirements are met. This could include anything from data source availability and configuration, app integration configuration, to the appropriate version used for odbc/jdbc drivers, SAML, TLS, JDK components. And don’t forget the planning that surrounds the limitations in performing certain configurations in a customer’s infrastructure. IT security typically balks at providing root / administrative access to their servers so alternative routes to achieve task goals need to be planned for.
Understanding the nuances of proposed martech solutions (e.g. X web app server is not supported at customer, so we must leverage the customers enterprise web server cluster, X ports are restricted so we must reconfigure port definitions from standard) always invokes configuration discussions which ultimately adds to estimate hours.
4. Implementation Support
On top of the standard project management activities like status and resource meetings, there should be the inclusion of support hours.
On average, 25% of an overall implementation effort is dedicated to technical support.
This accounts for the time utilized for operational troubleshooting, resolution / bug fix / defect hotfix application, and vendor work sessions once the solution has been implemented.
As is the nature of troubleshooting, this can be a long or short process. From experience, having this support buffer is vital to overall project success since it allows support resources to work through issues in a balanced manner while maintaining a positive mental state.
A successful martech solution implementation is the goal we strive for with each opportunity. These take accurate planning, orchestration, and coordination – all aided by our experience and learnings to develop a tailor-made repeatable process. In addition, taking into consideration a customer’s post-implementation needs is of utmost importance so that they are empowered to support themselves going forward.
At the end of the day, having a well-thought out and well-resourced implementation strategy at the outset is critical to achieving long-term sustained success, and it will maximize your overall ROI of your software purchase.