Welcome back from what I hope was a great Thanksgiving holiday! This is an especially excellent time of year to express our gratitude. And today I’m grateful for Beth Weesner, principal of Marketing Transformation Services (MTS). Beth is a pint-sized ball of energy who is one of the most respective voices in our business and has been an integral part of the Henry Stewart Marketing Operations conferences since the beginning.  Her company, MTS, is the go-to partner for deployment of Marketing Resource Management (MRM) technology deployments. They’ve counseled companies like Amgen, eBay, HP, HSBC, IBM, Intel, Nortel and REI on their MRM strategies. I’m very fortunate to have Beth as a friend and ally, and especially pleased that she has agreed to join the Marketing Operations Partners’ advisory board.

If you were attended the Henry Stewart LA conference Marketing Operations track early this month, you got a big helping of Beth and no doubt came away well fed. Today, I’ll share some of the highlights from Beth’s conference-opening presentation on Marketing Operations and provide a link to download it at the end of this post.

One of the key messages in Beth’s presentation is in a slide titled “What is MRM?” The answer:

“MRM is not just the technology that enables organizations to manage the operations of marketing… it’s about the right combination of people, processes and technology working in collaboration to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the marketing function.”

Halleluja! Can I hear an Amen!

Beth recommends a six-step approach for a successful MRM initiative in which technology evaluation is the final phase. This wise guidance is based on hard lessons learned as Beth observed countless companies rolling out technology “fixes” that instead spurred a whole new host of problems, usually because these marketing automation pioneers lacked the processes understanding, taxonomy and organizational support to optimize their considerable investments.

Among the steps she proposes:

1. A Strategic Assessment process to identify the business drivers, analyze stakeholder needs, create a unification strategy, develop the initial business case, define a governance model and deliver the initial roadmap.

2. Tending to Foundational Elements, such as change management, a communications plan, and defining a common language and common metrics.

3. Project definition, including developing the core team, conducting a discovery process,re-assessing the initial roadmap, developing a phased scope and plan, and defining success metrics for each phase.

4. Organizational alignment, including evaluating roles and responsibilities, analyze skill gaps and effecting organizational recommendations.

5. Process optimization, including assessing current processes, recommending process improvements and documenting and agreeing to process.

6. Technology evaluation, including determing solutions requirements (both functional and technical), evaluating vendors through an RFP process and, finally, implementing the new technology solution.

You can download the complete presentation here.

Before I let you go back to your busy lives, let me offer one piece of advice to get the most out of Beth’s recommendations.

Think twice before trying to implement her great guidance by yourself!

In this crazy age of the “individual contributor director/VP” most of us are too darn willing to try to do everything ourselves, at great expense to both psyche, health and companies. Make an honest assessment before taking your act solo. Inside the buzz-saw that is today’s corporation, do you really have the headroom, clarity and strategic focus to formulate, mobilize necessary support and execute a complex Marketing Operations initiative without an objective, detached partner by your side? Are you leveraging your resources effectively or are you throwing bodies and dollars at big problems, hoping they’ll go away? Do you have the subject matter expertise available to ensure the success of your initiative? Are you overemphasizing the task at the expense of the strategy?

Companies like MTS and Marketing Operations Partners are here to help you minimize your exposure and get the most out of your MO investment. So invite us in to assess your needs before you move forward with your next Marketing Operations initiative. By collaborating with the right external partner (or two), you reap a number of benefits:

* Help assessing your organization’s current Marketing Operations health

* Best practice-based guidance to get challenging MO initiatives off-the-ground and running effectively, while ensuring sustainability

* Mentoring and training of your key people so that you develop MO expertise and competency internally

* Sound strategic and operational counsel on how to best organize as you move forward to accomplish key MO objectives

If you’re satisfied with the status quo, feel free to ignore my admittedly self-serving recommendation. But if you believe your company’s marketing function needs to change its MO, remember nothing changes unless something changes. And that change starts with you.

Okay, enough preaching already. If you read this far, I’m also grateful for your tolerance and patience.

Thank you and stay warm!

by Gary M. Katz, Founder and Chairman at Marketing Operations Partners