The IT organization doesn’t understand what the Sales & Marketing (S&M) organization are doing and vice versa. Does it sound familiar?
Most S&M organizations, if not all, are highly dependent on data and technology to be able to reach out to their customers in a relevant and effective way. This is by no means a new phenomenon. The dependency of different technology tools continues to increase and that in turn puts an increased demand on cooperation between the S&M organization and the IT organization.
Once you have realized that it’s not only the initial investment and getting users trained on the tool that counts, but also that ways of cooperating between organizations/departments need to be reviewed. Organizations have different levels of maturing when addressing or dealing with the challenge:
Phase 1 – Collaboration forum
In the first stage the Sales and Marketing organization and the IT organization finds a forum for collaboration, to meet on a regular basis. “Now we have come so far that we have regular meeting, it’s really good to share and get insights into what’s going on in each organization”.
However, the question remains: what do we actually achieve by this forum? Regular collaboration meetings can be fruitful but it’s not the answer to how to reach an active and effective cooperation. You need something more otherwise you will risk losing the initiative you have recently started.
Phase 2 – Task force
When you avoid a number of hand-overs between departments and reducing lead times you will decrease friction and it helps you to realize the value of closer and more regular collaboration. We propose that you create a task force! It’s a group of people with the purpose to deliver a concrete result around a specific area (and sometimes with a fixed deadline). These kind of constellations are popular and quite common among, for example, Sales & Marketing organizations. It’s seen as a way of avoiding documentation and other kind of administration which are probably seen as a more natural and integrated part of everyday work for an employee within an IT department.
The result, if you ask the members of the task force, is very often positive. But since most organizations are not created to support this model, because it can make reporting more complicated and disagreements in prioritizations can occur between departments, these cross-functional teams are only created temporarily to deliver on the goal set for the specific area.
Phase 3 – Establish a permanent cross-functional team
In the last stage the goal is to find a well-structured way of working that supports cooperation between departments and organizations, not only temporarily but also long term. Now you have finally reached the stage to permanently establish a cross-functional team, with permanent resources having necessary competence from both Sales & Marketing and from IT.
What you actually are trying to do is to by-pass organizational barriers by establishing permanent task-forces with a clear ownership in prioritizations. Exactly which methodology to choose for the team can vary but in order to prove your value on a regular basis a suitable way for this is agile scrum methodology with sprints releases (with approximately 2-4 weeks/sprint) where there is a Product Owner responsible for prioritizations.
David Ögren Senior Marketing Consultant at Recoordinate