How to Choose a Marketing Technology Stack, Part 3 of 7: People

In this series, we’ll unpack our marketing technology deployment strategy. We’ll learn how to properly plan a marketing technology stack rollout, develop a sensible governance model, examine what could go wrong, and succeed on the first try rather than patch and duct tape a disaster repeatedly.

Part 3: Managing the People

Once we’ve assessed the why of a marketing technology project, we must ascertain who will be involved. Who is a much larger question than it first appears; most marketers are accustomed to very casual organizational structure for projects. After all, we don’t need a ton of people to launch a Facebook ad or run a webinar.

For any kind of technology deployment, we must turn to the software and IT world for guidance about rolling out mission-critical projects. How does IT decide who does what? How do we keep a major project on the rails?

For any large IT project, we typically have a large cast of characters:

  • Executive sponsor
  • Steering committee
  • Project lead/owner
  • Project managers
  • Team members

Who are all these people? Let’s briefly examine each of these roles and their impact on a technology project, because we’ll need them for any kind of marketing technology rollout that’s more than just a pilot project.

Executive Sponsor

The executive sponsor is the member of management our project is sponsored by. Sponsorship indicates a willingness for the executive to, at a minimum, be held accountable for the success or failure of the project. Executive sponsorship may also mean lending resources to the project, such as personnel and budget.

Steering Committee

The steering committee is a group of stakeholders whose job it is to guide – to steer – a project towards success. These stakeholders should include the executive sponsor, delegated authorities by the sponsor (for example, a president designating a Vice President’s assistance), the program lead, and other team/project leaders as necessary. The goal of the steering committee is to ensure our project adheres to the strategy we laid out in the previous post.

Project Owner

The project owner is the chief executor of the project. If the executive sponsor is the owner of the sports team, the project owner is the head coach. The project owner is responsible for delivering the project on time, on budget, with the expected outcomes dictated by the sponsor and steering committee. In a marketing technology deployment, the project owner would ultimately deliver the software to marketing and ensure its successful rollout and integration.

Project Manager(s)

The project manager is the executor of specific tasks within the project. A marketing technology project may have one manager, or it may have many managers depending on how complex the project is. Deploying new webinar software might require only one project manager; deploying a fully integrated marketing automation platform with ties to web analytics and the CRM could require a dozen project managers.

Project Team Members

The last group of people involved in a project are the team members, the people who execute specific assigned tasks by the project manager. These people may be individual subject matter experts, or regular staff assigned to the project.

Team members will be assigned all manner of tasks, but

  • Testing/QA: Team members will spend a large chunk of time testing to make sure the technology does what it’s supposed to do.
  • Integration: Team members will spend time integrating the technology with other compatible software, and where incompatible, will develop workarounds to provide process continuity.
  • Training: Team members will provide training to line of business users of the new technology to ensure they achieve minimum viable competence in its operation.

Roles Differ From Titles

One important consideration which may be a mindset shift for the average marketer is that roles and titles do not necessarily correlate on a technology deployment. We must become comfortable with a different way of doing things, a different way of reporting, and a different way of being managed by others.

For example, here at SHIFT, we’ve developed a technology-based training program for our employees to learn new digital skills. On this project, the executive stakeholder is our Managing Partner, Amy Lyons, and the project owner is our Marketing Director, Katie Lioy. Our project manager is one of our Senior Marketing Analysts, Emily Mong. I work on the project as a subject matter expert, a regular team member, creating content for it. Even though on our organizational chart, Katie is one of my direct reports, and Emily is one of Katie’s direct reports, on this particular project, I report to Emily. My role on the project has nothing to do with my title – something that can be difficult for organizations to adapt to.

Next: What

In the next post in this series, we’ll move on to process. Once we’ve established who’s doing the work, we need to establish the what, including a project charter and governance document to ensure a successful outcome.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology


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