There’s no doubt that technology has revolutionised the marketing production process, however the use of technology should still be treated with a degree of caution. Right through from inception to final implementation, there are four critical issues that need to be dealt with. It’s not just a case of choosing which solution is right for your business needs and then smugly sitting back, as chaos can often ensue. Gathering the business requirements for such a solution can be a challenging (and sometimes thankless) task that can dictate the success or failure of a project.
Whilst the various solutions available – digital asset management (DAM), content marketing, collaboration, etc. – are often lumped together, they are in fact vastly different. As a result, they each fulfil varied requirements. However, what remains the same are the four key issues that organisations need to master during the requirement gathering process.
Once the decision has been made to adopt new technology, a period of change for the business begins. This can often be like a red rag to a bull as marketers are rarely comfortable with change. Therefore, change management and communication to all stakeholders needs to begin right from the very beginning and continue throughout the process.
The four critical steps to ensuring success when scoping out business requirements for marketing production are:
One of the most common mistakes when adopting marketing production technology is not prioritising the requirements. This is often difficult if there are many stakeholders each with their own agenda and each viewing their own needs as most important. Inevitably, each of them will use technology in a very different way, with varied levels of use and engagement. Yet, a prioritisation of requirements must be done. It is important they understand that the chosen solution will not meet all of the requirements of each stakeholder, so not everyone is going to get what they want. Often, it is best politically if this is done by a neutral third-party facilitator.
When it comes to managing the requirement gathering process, the danger is that if it is done internally, there will be some level of bias. Creatives will have different requirements than account management. Also, the underlying drivers will be different. Finance may push for cost-effectiveness, while production may want workflow improvements. A facilitator, such as a system integrator or marketing technology vendor, can engage with all parties involved and take all opinions into consideration. They will also provide the much-needed insight, as well as an impartial point of view that will help keep the project on track, and ultimately yield a solution that fulfils the requirement.
Once all the stakeholders have put forth their requirements for the new system, the facilitator needs to take the time to bring all parties together in the same room. This can go a long way in managing expectations. If users who previously gave their requirements don’t attend this meeting, there could be a lot of dissatisfaction or apathy regarding the project. If they later realise their needs are not being met, this could then spill over into the actual adoption phase and never fully be repaired. Rather, to those in attendance, the facilitator can explain why certain requirements were prioritised so that staff can also understand why and how the new technology will be used. Communication is imperative as all stakeholders are more likely to be on their best behaviour and feel positively about the project if they feel they are an active participant in the process. In addition, this step will help manage any potential resistance to change by keeping employees involved in the process from the beginning.
When stakeholder requirements are gathered, they are generally based on what today’s needs are rather than considering longer-term functionality requirements of the technology. However, long-term needs shouldn’t be ignored during the testing phase. Essentially, testing provides the stakeholders with the opportunity to understand the functionality and capabilities of the new system, while then also thinking about what it could potentially do in the future. This step enables people to see the different opportunities the technology can bring their roles and departments.
The requirement gathering phase of any project has a massive impact on the success or failure of a project. By keeping communication open, engagement high, and expectations managed, you can achieve better buy-in from staff and minimise negative reactions. Key to all of this is employing a neutral consultant to facilitate the requirement gathering process and guide your business right through to deployment and adoption.
By Tammy Michalek, senior solution consultant at IO Integration
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