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Marketing Operations’ Chicken and Egg Problem

By Matthew Wakeman | May 03, 2022 | 0 Comments

MarketingMarketing Data and AnalyticsMarketing Operations

We just published Gartner research on simple marketing operations metrics (Gartner client login and subscription required). As part of that research, we identified that nearly 50% of organizations we surveyed manage their marketing process manually – through spreadsheets or without technology. Those organizations have a marketing-operations-specific version of the “Chicken and Egg” problem. This question typically sounds like:

Which comes first:

  • the marketing operations practice
  • or the technology that demonstrates the business case for a marketing operations practice that will improve process?

In other words, how can a marketing operations leader improve process when process isn’t measured?

And how does that leader make the business case when the data for that business case would come from the software they’re trying to make the business case for?

Here’s how Marketing Operations leaders looking to build a business case for work management tools can get started:

  1. Measure Top-Down. Just collect end-to-end cycle time, because it is both simple and useful.
    1. Simple – there are only two data points to collect per deliverable – start date, and final delivery date. It’s probably recorded in email (you can even create a mailbox that everyone cc’s with deliverables), and even if it’s not – you can use a simple spreadsheet to record each date.
    2. Useful – collect these dates across all your deliverables, and calculate end-to-end cycle time based on the two dates.
  2. Find a simple opportunity. Now look at all of the cycle times  that are longer than the average.
    1. What’s common across them (or groups of them)? This is an early indicator of where potential opportunities for improvement are.
    2. How much could you improve this metric if the process improved?
      1. Calculate the average end-to-end cycle time for a subset of the deliverables – only the ones that have average or shorter E2E cycle time.
  3. Add only the details you need to solve specific problems.
    1. You don’t need all of the specifics of all of the projects in order to find problems.
    2. In situations like the case above, you’ll probably identify that certain types of deliverables – or certain lines of business that receive them – often have much longer E2E cycle times.
    3. That can be done by a simple scan of the list, or it can be done by adding an exhaustive list of attributes to the list, or it can be done with any level of work in-between.
  4. Use your first wins to estimate potential impact.
    1. Once you’ve solved a couple of problems, use the individual improvements to estimate how much you could improve overall performance.
    2. If you see 10% – 20% improvement in each of the areas you tackle, estimate 15% improvement for the whole process.
    3. Then calculate how much that improvement (in timeliness or efficiency) will return to the business. That’s your business case.

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