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We're Up and Running — Now What?

It’s time to go live.

Your team has been through the weeds with your vendor of choice for months now. Your requirements have been gathered, your solution has been built and it’s almost time to take it out for a spin. You couldn’t be happier. And neither could your vendor.

Your implementation and the months ahead will have a positive outcome as long as the two critical success factors in marketing solution implementations are respected and delivered against. I speak of future planning and accounting for the human element. Address future planning and you can be reasonably sure your solution will stay current with changing business conditions. Address the human element and you can be reasonably sure your organization is getting the most out of the asset.

Here are a few questions you might want to ponder regarding future planning:

You must plan for growth and for increasing complexity in business problems.

Do you have a long-term vision? Is it backed it up with a workable three-year plan? Does the plan include not only higher volume, but also incremental functionality that your team will be “growing into” in the months and years ahead — geographically, by product, by subsidiary, by capability? Are you looking into the future and planning based on alternate outcomes with — in particular — a plan to address the digital world? Can you secure funding for the possible solutions, and can your vendor deliver against this growing complexity?

Choosing the right vendor / partner is critical.

Are you partnering with a vendor who shares your long-term vision and is a partner in delivering against your three-year plan? When you propose a quarterly executive business review to discuss strategy and progress, do they balk or are they willing partners in that process? Do they have a digital strategy and the pedigree to deliver against that strategy? Do they nickel-and-dime, or are they in it for the long haul, providing demonstrable value-add?

Managing the human element is all about communicating to properly set and maintain expectations. Your stakeholders might have expected (or, perhaps, were inadvertently sold) a silver bullet where you intended Phase One to be basic, scalable functionality. Or perhaps a phased roll-out is not communicated as such to the stakeholders that are part of the infamous “post-Phase One” group. To avoid these and other mishaps:

Training.

Does your user community thoroughly understand their roles, responsibilities, deliverables, and hand-off points in the process? Have they been properly trained in using these new capabilities to access your organization’s data? Have they been equipped with proper online or soft copy documentation including data dictionaries and quick reference “cheat sheets”?

Scope.

Do you have a roll-out plan, by geography, by product line, documented as an implementation / roll-out schedule with clear assignment of “who gets what, when”?

Goals. 

Do you have clear, agreed-upon success measures, a consistent method to calculate ROI and a means of communicating status — and, more importantly, trends or changes over time — to all stakeholders and interested parties within your organization?

Finally, just to be sure you are not kidding yourself, here are a few telltale signs that you might be in trouble:

  • A data mart that doesn’t change – a lack of new attributes reflecting new segmentation strategies, test cells, etc. – is a clear indicator of a stagnant marketing strategy. Is your mart changing based on new learning, ideally on a monthly basis?
  • Nothing happens, or continues to happen, without executive sponsorship. Is your organization’s “champion” still highly engaged, or has he / she moved on to other things and gone dark?
  • Has your pool of users shown no growth, or are the only new users you are securing tasked only with repetitive, operational work?
  • When your vendor speaks to you about exciting new assets and capabilities that can be implemented, are you finding it increasingly difficult to see business benefit?

If you can answer all of these questions favorably and have all the planning and human communication issues covered, there’s an excellent chance you and your marketing solution are well-positioned for sustained growth and recognition as a valuable asset within your organization. If not, refer to this list to determine what needs your attention and get it back on track! Best of luck!

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