Getting a diverse group of people with a broad mix of skill-sets and experiences working together effectively can be difficult under any circumstances. Add deadlines and demanding clients to the mix and you’ve got a recipe that’s guaranteed to generate some challenging moments.
Many digital marketers encounter these kinds of moments when interacting with their tech teams. These tech teams are typically composed of both front- and back-end developers who do everything from write the HTML that renders your marketing website, to creating the database that captures customer email addresses for your lead-generation efforts to integrating the metrics and analytics that allow you to review the results of your digital marketing campaign. Without them, none of those brilliant digital marketing strategies you’ve created would be brought to life online.
So why is it that the integration of marketing and technology teams typically generates so much friction? Much of it comes to down to cultural differences. Marketers, by nature, are expansive thinkers who want to respond to market opportunities and customer needs quickly and emphatically. Technology teams, on the other hand, are more pragmatic and are driven by scope, schedules and project plans. Delivering complicated technical solutions in short time frames requires careful planning and doesn’t always lend itself to last minute changes. Let’s look at 6 things you can do right now to build a better, more effective integration between your marketing and tech teams.
- Be Humble: Delivering a digital marketing solution that includes a technology component is no easy task. It requires a diverse team of people with specialized skills to work together, often under tight deadlines. Expect to make mistakes upfront. And be honest when you do. Your tech team will appreciate the honesty and will likely return the favor.
- Treat Everyone with Respect: This may seem like a no-brainer but let’s be honest—it’s easy to slip up when the pressure mounts. Stay vigilant and treat everyone with respect and courtesy. Get to know your tech team. Accommodating little quirks and work styles goes a long way in building trust and helps you get the most out of your tech team.
- Deliver Detailed Requirements: one of the most challenging situations for any tech team is trying to deliver against a looming deadline with unclear or incomplete technical requirements. Get your tech team involved early in the planning process so they can help identify any potential technical issues while there is still time to develop alternative solutions. Once you’ve settled on an approach, create detailed requirements that clearly define your vision for each technical component. When possible, share this thinking with your tech team and enlist their help in coming up with the most effective technical solution and the required documentation they will need in order to implement it. Getting your tech team involved in this process creates buy-in and ownership and builds trust.
- Accommodate Communication Preferences: People are at their best when they are working with familiar processes and tools. In today’s digital workspace, communication and collaboration tools like Slack and Trello can help keep your team connected and integrated. Talk to your tech team about which tools they prefer. Often you will find that they have a fully integrated dev environment that includes a preferred communication tool. Adopting their tool will add efficiency to the overall project workflow and ensure that nothing gets lost in translation when communicating long or complicated feedback.
- Stand-Up for your Team: In almost every project, there is some form of client-induced scope creep. Your tech team is always the last stop on the road to getting your marketing project across the finish line and launched. They typically absorb that expected level of scope creep without even breaking a sweat. While a certain amount of scope increase is natural, it’s up to you to know when it’s time to stand up for your team and ask for more time or resources to accommodate the additions. Keep your tech team in the loop when it comes to communicating with your client about the impact of scope additions, or changes late in the project cycle. For bonus points, include your tech team in any estimating or planning related to scope increases.
- Be Grateful + Celebrate Success: if there’s one prevalent theme we’ve noticed over the years related to the integration of marketing and tech teams, it’s that tech doesn’t get enough credit for the magic they pull off. Be grateful to the guys and gals who write the code that brings those brilliant marketing strategies to life. Celebrate their success and recognize them for their significant contributions. This recognition and sense of mutual achievement and success is the exactly the kind of glue that builds world-class teams and successful digital marketing executions.
While every team and every situation is different, following the fundamental advice above will help you kickstart your marketing and tech team collaboration, make your team communications more efficient and improve your ability to respond to the inevitable ups and downs you and your tech team will encounter on the road to a successful project outcome.