By Jody Scheldt, Senior Marketing Manager 7/7/16
We often hear about all the new technologies available to marketers and their many benefits, from data analytics and reporting to social listening and personalization. We hear at conferences why people are adding new tools to their stack, but we don’t always hear how they accomplished it. The following steps outline key steps to include when you’re thinking about implementing new marketing technology.
1. Develop a Realistic Time Line to Launch
While setting an aggressive timeline might be aspirational during the planning phase, it could set you up for an implementation failure. Spend time explaining to those affected by the project why the time line may be long. Some projects may benefit from a sped up launch, like getting a new product to market, but hurrying the setup of a new software tool can cause oversights that lead to problems down the road. Just before launch, set up a small test group to get feedback and make any last minute adjustments.
Project managers are experts at setting expectations, take a page from their playbook: “From the very early days of a project, it is critical to set realistic completion dates [to] ensure accurate forecasting,” says Hernan Clarke, CEO, 4Sight Technologies, a company that specializes in developing and supporting software for project management
2. Create a Phased Approach
While you may be tempted to do everything possible with the new technology immediately, remember to keep it simple. Start with basic functions in your phase 1 and move “nice to haves” to your phase 2. This way you’ll not overwhelm the implementation team or the eventual users when the system is launched. “During the implementation process, some clients believe that everything must be configured and tested in the account before any users are ready to be trained, but you can often roll out one module of the technology for users to begin learning basic navigation and develop a sense of the usability while configuring other modules.” CVENT Event Blog
3. Determine what Existing Technologies will be Affected
There are systems already in place that your team has been using. Take inventory of what will be replaced, retired, or maintained. When Rod James, Manager of Brand Marketing at Orlando Health implemented a new marketing asset management solution, it was an important part of their strategy that there only be one source to retrieve marketing assets; all other systems were retired. The reason behind that move was to eliminate any confusion and questions on what platform the assets were located and to promote adoption of the new system.
4. Get the Stakeholders on Board
Whether you need IT support or Sales buy-in, it’s imperative to outline the plan (highlighting reasons why it’s beneficial) to the departments that it will be affecting. If you expect this to be a challenge in your organization, start with those who are most likely to endorse the new system and build your case.
5. Select an Implementation Team
Dedicate a leader to keep the project on track and act as the dedicated point person for questions. Since resources can be scarce within marketing departments, it may more beneficial to select a small team to share the responsibility. “Experience suggests, however, that successful implementation requires not only heavy investment by developers early in the project but also a sustained level of investment in the resources of user organizations.” Harvard Business Review
6. Make Sure Support is in Place
Lean on the vendor providing the technology to help with the implementation process. If they’re customer-centric company, they have a vested interest in seeing you succeed. Don’t be afraid to use them as a resource to get your project where it needs to be. If the implementation is long, there may be a cost associated with the service hours. These are well worth the money in order to get your new system running smoothly the first time around. “If a SaaS software vendor just delivers their software services but with very little support or documentation, then a business will need to employ a solid IT support workforce. However, if a SaaS software vendor provides clear instructions and documentation in clear English (with very little technical jargon) then a business should be able to continue operating without needing to bring in additional IT support professionals.” SearchITChannel.com
7. Market the New Technology Internally
Don’t forget to market your shiny new tool! This aspect is critical to the adoption and long term success of the technology. Create an awareness campaign using your most highly viewed channels, whether that’s email, an intranet, company event, or all of the above.
It can seem like you’re done once the system is technically working, but until your users are on board and regularly logging in, your work is not complete. As Meredith Carter Moore, Senior Director of Local Marketing at Boys and Girls Clubs of America explained in a recent webinar, “We created Brand Ambassadors around organizations that were doing an outstanding job at executing and they began to spread the message and the value of the new tool. Once they understand the value, they’re quick to share with other professionals.”