With your marketing functions defined, and high-level technology requirements defined, you have a framework that can be used to match existing tools to marketing objectives and help identify tool requirements and the teams responsible for evaluating tool options.
Generating an objective-driven technology requirements framework adds value throughout the many stages of auditing, building, and maintaining a marketing technology stack. Having a framework makes it easier to identify which existing tools support current objectives and to pinpoint functions and requirements that are not currently supported. Following this methodology also helps identify redundant platforms as you’ll quickly be able to see where you have multiple platforms supporting the same technology requirement.
With your framework in hand, as you drill down to identify the specific technology requirements needed to serve each business function, it’s important not to jump straight to defining a platform requirement, e.g., “I need a CRM system,” We naturally do this because it feels concrete. If you approach your requirements this way you run the risk of narrowing down your product selection too quickly by biasing you to one type of tool, when in fact a different type of tool may be able to deliver more functionality. Make sure that you collect a complete set of requirements and only then, identify the various types of platforms that could address those requirements.
For the most part, the objective setting exercise is the same in a standalone company and a newly merged company. However, it may potentially differ if the plan is for the acquired company to operate independently which can sometimes be the case when there isn’t close synergy between product lines or the customer demographic is different. In these environments, the objective setting process should happen for each entity in parallel, with information shared between organizations at the end of the exercise. Even if stacks are not going to be fully integrated, there may be overlapping objectives and requirements that can be served by a shared platform purchase or by negotiating preferred pricing for two separate platforms.
Two important things to consider as you continue to build-out your technology requirements framework:
- Ask yourself: “How well does the company need to perform each function?” Do you need to perform at a “world-class” level in every function, or in just a few? There is always more work to do than time or resources allow. This relatively simple exercise will help with the prioritization of work and tool investments and will help you avoid buying that super expensive piece of technology with more “bells and whistles” than you’ll ever use.
- When you define the technical requirements needed to support each function, it is important to identify the data that will be needed, where it will come from, and what processing will need to be done in order for it to deliver the desired results. Skipping this step can lead to disappointing performance or no performance at all. We’ve lost track of the number of times marketers have told us that they implemented a new platform and only afterward did they realize it didn’t integrate with the other technology they had in place. We once had a conversation with a CMO who told us that he managed to render both his company’s CRM and Marketing Automation Platform useless at the same time, but that’s story for another day.
Having a well-defined requirements framework will make it much easier to assess your existing marketing technology stack and to determine what else is needed to complete it. As tempting as it might be, don’t skip this vital planning step.