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Future-Proof Your Marketing Team with These 6 Principles

By Amy Abatangle | June 23, 2022 | 0 Comments

MarketingMarketing OperationsMarketing Organization and Talent

Many times clients who speak to us about restructuring their marketing teams are trying to solve operational challenges with organizational design. What starts out as a discussion of roles, responsibilities and reporting structures quickly becomes a conversation about marketing operations – how the team collaborates to deliver work, agrees on priorities, and understands success based on efficiency and effectiveness metrics. In fact, the top two reasons respondents to Gartner’s 2022 Marketing and Communications Organization Survey cited for changing their marketing function’s structure were to:

  1. Improve prioritization/workflow management, and 
  2. Improve collaboration across teams.

Rather than jumping to wholesale restructuring of your team, focus instead on creating organizational agility that will enable them to be more adaptive and responsive to ongoing change. By using these 6 principles to create more agile ways of working, you will uncover areas where you do need to address roles, responsibilities and reporting structure. You can then make adjustments with surgical precision rather than a sledgehammer.

Organizational Design for Marketing Agility

1. Agile Workflows

Do you have clear visibility into how work moves through your function? Where are the pain points and bottlenecks? Documenting key workflows for activities like campaign planning and execution will help you understand your existing processes and see where they break down. You can then figure out the right response, which may not be related to roles, responsibilities or reporting structure at all. Instead, you may need to design more agile workflows that can allow you to reprioritize or reroute as necessary.

2. Data-Driven Decision Support

Reorgs often start with a sneaking suspicion that there is inefficiency in the team that must be rooted out. Can we get away with three graphic designers instead of four? How can we shorten the time it takes us to deliver projects? Again, these are not questions that can be answered with org design. Instead, you need to get a handle on operational metrics like project cycle time and resource utilization to validate your assumptions.

3. Cross-Functional Collaboration

Marketing teams often are organized by capability or function. In scaled teams, this can lead to functional silos that make collaboration difficult. If you’ve already mapped out your workflows, you will have a clear view into where teams have dependencies. If you haven’t, start by conducting an informal meeting audit. Do you have kickoff meetings and/or retrospectives for major initiatives? Who’s included? Who’s not? What about self-service tools that provide transparency for project and task management? What about collaboration tools – are they structured for ad hoc communication or to support communities of practice around core disciplines?

4. Distributed Authority

While collaboration is great, unclear ownership is not. When you have individuals or teams with overlapping roles and responsibilities, you will inevitably have turf battles over who owns what – or worse, no one taking accountability for anything. On the flip side, if you have a very hierarchical authority model with stage gates and multiple approvers, work may slow to a crawl. Solve for this by empowering individuals and teams through a distributed authority model. Break down work into smaller units with fewer approvers for each type of task. Use a RACI matrix to document the authority model.

5. Fast-Cycle Performance Management

When there is a problem with an individual or team, you need to course-correct as quickly as practicable. Waiting for an annual review cycle doesn’t cut it. Having an open, ongoing dialog conducted through a cadence of regular meetings is critical to creating a high-performance environment. It’s beneficial not only for the organization, but also for the individual. In fact, Gartner’s 2021 Workforce Resilience Survey found that helping employees see the outcome of their work (providing transparency) increases the likelihood of sustaining workforce health by 13%.

6. Customer-Centricity

Finally, when you think about org design, what is the first thing that comes to mind? It’s probably not your customers. Often, we treat org design as an internal concern, and our customers are an afterthought if we think of them at all. Instead, start by looking at your value chain – all the steps you take to create a work deliverable that creates value for your customers. Your campaigns, collateral and communications all are a result of your team working together to create value for your customers. Are you organized in the most efficient and effective way to create value? Consider exploring customer-focused marketing team reporting structures or operating models (i.e., segment-aligned or journey-aligned, possibly with a fusion team) to better understand customer needs and deliver value. Schedule an inquiry to learn more.

More to Explore

Gartner clients can also access this research:

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