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Six Steps to Build a Better Marketing and IT Relationship

It always seems so straight forward.

The marketing team has a vision for the future of the customer experience. They wish to pivot from a business or product-first approach to one that puts the customer first. They’ve mapped out the customer journey based on data-driven audiences and identified gaps and opportunities, and from that, a need for foundational change in their data structure has emerged. Or perhaps the marketing team has invested in a martech assessment that requires instating several new platforms and pipelines to enable the next level of transformation.

Whatever the source of the need is, the next step becomes an ask to IT to implement the changes and make data and tools actionable. Then, the IT and data teams set forth and yet somehow, when the product or service is delivered, it does not match marketing’s expectations. Frustrations are high but it’s unclear what exactly went wrong. Timelines will need to be pushed, revisions may be necessary, and postmortems are in order.

Although it can seem frustrating, there are steps that can be taken to help ensure that the product delivered meets stakeholder needs and avoids costly revisions.

Six Steps to Better Outcomes

1. Build your partnerships.

Relationships are important throughout an organization but are even more vital when it comes to the volley between marketing and IT. Get to know each department’s stakeholders and build those relationships. You are much more likely to be included in conversations and copied on emails if you are considered a trusted partner. Find common ground and establish a real rapport. You will be rewarded with access to more information, which is critical for success.

2. Gain executive alignment.

Ensure that the future state vision is aligned at the executive level. Leadership at that level will likely not be involved in the day-to-day but any project that requires integration across multiple teams will find greater success if the vision is shared and communicated from the top down.

3. Plan ahead.

Collaboratively build an annual roadmap that layers marketing and IT projects and highlights dependencies. This process will tie together workstreams and help ensure expectations are aligned on both sides. Schedule quarterly revisions in advance to accommodate for inevitable changes.  

4. Assign a product owner.

This responsibility can work within many different roles but it’s imperative that this role lives within the marketing team. They will serve as a project catalyst, helping to guide and educate through the development process. They should be skilled in the art of translating complex concepts, from business needs to technical requirements. With the right person in this role, projects will move more fluidly and surprises will be minimized.

5. Create documentation with use cases.

Develop a process for proper documentation of business requirements and use cases that should be achieved. Both IT and marketing must feel comfortable with this document. The product owner from step four is a key stakeholder in this process and will be responsible for articulating requirements and working with IT to move them forward. If IT does not thoroughly understand why the product is needed and how it will be used, it will be very difficult for them to develop a solution for marketing’s problem.

6. Optionally, identify a dedicated marketing developer.

Consider bringing in one or two dedicated developers to help execute smaller marketing initiatives as they occur throughout the year. Partnering with IT, these individuals allow for a nimbler approach, making it easier to accommodate change.

Even with all this preparation, there can often still be surprises. However, if you have the steps above well covered, your teams will be set up to accommodate for those changes in a much more efficient and effective way, minimizing conflict across the business. Ultimately, it all comes down to communication, proper planning, and ensuring your teams are empowered with the information they need to be successful.