How to herd cats

Doing more with less by aligning marketing people, processes and technology

Margaret Shumel, Principal, OpEx New York

I recently attended a presentation by Margaret Shumel, Principal of OpEx NY who talked about the recurring theme she’s hearing in her conversations with marketing professionals: increasing complexity and decreasing resources. “It takes a lot of resources to make things happen and they’re getting squeezed on all fronts. Over and over I’m hearing, ‘We don’t have the money, we don’t have the time, and expertise is hard to come by.’ ”

As a result, said Shumel, organizations are looking to technology to help them do more with less. “In my 20 year career as a marketing consultant working on technology implementations,” said Shumel, “I’ve learned a few things – one is that using technology to speed up a bad process doesn’t solve anything, but it happens all the time.

Instead, said Shumel, the goal should be aligning people, processes and technology; “It’s a simple solution, but getting there is like herding cats.’” Over the years, Shumel’s figured out a few right ways – and wrong ways – to herd the cats. Here’s a quick overview of the steps she shared:

“The key step to acceptance was presenting initial processes and technology to the teams and asking them, ‘Why won’t this work?’”

The solution: Step 1
The first step in creating a highly efficient organization is developing a common structure and methodology that:

  • Optimizes resources
  • Standardizes processes
  • Drives compliance

 The solution: Step 2
The second step is introducing technology that will help ensure processes are:

  • Repeatable
  • Sustainable
  • Measurable
  • Cost-effective

 Case study 
“I recently worked with a pharma organization that was building its infrastructure and implementing a marketing operations platform while preparing for a global launch of a new product,” said Shumel.

“On top of those challenges, management at the company was a diverse group with a wide variety of backgrounds (technical, business, marketing, etc.) and competing visions and priorities, resulting in multiple, competing processes for a single task; lack of standards; and an inability to measure effectiveness.”

Roadmap to success
Here are the steps they took to implement an effective marketing operations solution:

  1. Define and develop – “We began by reviewing the company’s business goals and building a stakeholder team with an agreed upon vision. It’s critical that you spend the time you need up front to understand the problem and processes before you bring in the technology.” 
  2. Implement initial processes and technology – “We started slow and didn’t overbuild. We ensured success by working out any kinks that cropped up along the way.” 
  3. Organizational acceptance – “The key step to acceptance was presenting initial processes and technology to the teams and asking them, ‘Why won’t this work?’ We listened and adapted the solution to meet each department’s unique needs. When I went back a year later, I found that we had 95 percent compliance with the new processes.” 
  4. Sustain – The goal is to achieve “must have” status.

“Because we spent the time needed upfront understanding the problems and processes, didn’t succumb to the high demand of doing too much, and got the marketing teams help in refining the solution before implementation, we got our marketers moving in the same direction – and you can too.”

For more on optimizing your marketing, check out this white paper: Six steps to improving marketing efficiencies

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