Implementing new marketing tools and technologies is no easy task. Columnist Mary Wallace shares three tips to ensure your next martech implementation is successful.
Technology in marketing abounds. Marketers use tools to send emails, track customer and prospect engagement and save preference information for future use.
But with the growth of technology in marketing come the challenges of martech implementations. Marketers are constantly installing new solutions that will help them work smarter and reach leads more effectively, and successful implementation of these tools is imperative.
Marketing organizations are finding themselves functioning like IT organizations as they migrate to new technologies, integrate existing solutions and make upgrades from older versions. But unlike IT organizations, which are well versed in successful implementations, this is a relatively new function for marketing organizations.
IT organizations have learned over the past 50-plus years what it takes to implement on time and within budget while delivering expected functionality. Beyond selecting the right tool, a successful implementation must not cause a disruption in service. Most importantly, the new tool must meet business expectations and provide equal or greater functionality than currently exists.
By taking advantage of these learnings, marketing organizations can make sure their new solutions will produce the expected results. Below are three tips for successfully implementing new marketing tools.
1. Develop a project management plan
Create a project plan — you don’t have to use a sophisticated project management tool to create it. Plenty of free tools are available.
Include expected time frames, responsible resources and dependencies. Stretch the plan across a bell curve so the expended effort slowly ramps up, has the majority of effort in the middle, and then gradually ramps down.
Projects that are built without dependencies, and where all the effort takes place concurrently, oftentimes fail due to frustration among members of the implementation team, wasted effort or missed deadlines.
Continuously track your project to ensure it’s on time. The more finite the unit measured, the more accurate the tracking and the more quickly potential issues will be spotted.
Vigilantly monitor tasks in the critical path. These are the action items that must be accomplished on time in order for another part of the project to proceed. Know what affects the critical path (technical setups, team members, leadership), and make sure any risks are mitigated.
Communication is critical both within the implementation team and between the business owners and the project team. Sharing risks, status updates and successes ensures there won’t be any surprises.
A level playing field where both business owners and the project team can communicate ensures all points of view are being heard and discussed. In large implementation projects, there often are varying points of view and opposing business drivers. For project success, there must be understanding and convergence.
Also be sure to extend communication outside of the business owners and project team. Continuously share the benefits of the new tool, but don’t hide the risks.
The marketers and business units that will use the new tool are curious; they want to know the impact to their daily jobs.
Share updates using a “what’s in it for me” focus. The users of the new tool don’t necessarily care about the project. What they care about is how the new tool will affect them and when they will be using it.
3. Walk before you run
Without well-defined business requirements, you cannot realize success. But keep the business requirements realistic. When expectations are too broad, either in terms of project scope or impact to the business, there is a high potential for project failure — think reduced scope or project overruns.
Limit the actual implementation to a single team or project instead of the entire marketing organization. Wide-scale implementation increases risks because of the increased complexity and the number of moving pieces involving new integrations and responsibilities.
Instead, roll out the new technology piece by piece and stabilize it until problems are worked out. This limits large-scale business disruption and provides an opportunity for the refinement of the new martech tool before it’s implemented organization-wide.
IT organizations have learned there is no silver bullet to ensure project success. Every project that’s started has the potential to fail.
Mitigating failure happens through structured project management and a consistent methodology designed to move projects forward. It also happens through honest and open communication among project team members, business owners and the solution’s users.
With an eye to these rigors followed by IT organizations, marketing teams will consistently be able to benefit from each new martech solution they implement.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.