Being productive and effective in the new workplace — with multiple teams and projects across geographically distributed, hybrid, digital work environments — demands marketing teams work in more efficient, agile and collaborative ways.
Marketing teams have turned to workflow management and collaboration platforms to meet the challenge. These platforms offer distributed, multi-stakeholder marketing teams the opportunity to streamline processes and keep pace with the need for agility and end-to-end visibility. Some of the promised benefits include:
- Seamless, streamlined, documented and transparent processes across global operations.
- Easier collaboration keeps all team members on the same page, helps go-to-market and turns projects around faster, allowing more voices to be heard in the process.
- Transparent planning and resource management for optimal efficiency across multiple projects.
- Better accountability with easier ways to identify and eliminate process bottlenecks.
- Smarter automation of tasks that free up employee time, drive better decision making.
- Better security and access management for data and assets.
While multi-channel may be great for customers in the digital age, it can lead to confusion within the workplace. Team sprawl and tool sprawl are complicating communication and collaboration, said Esther Flammer, CMO of Wrike. She noted the need for a robust collaborative work management platform for managing all marketing activity. The increasing availability of vertical- or function-specific workflow management tools, such as tools purpose-built for creative agencies, or focused on marketing specific use-cases — are further challenging marketers to find options that deliver tangible business benefits.
Marketing efficiency in a hybrid, distributed, agile world depends in part on finding and using the right content and workflow management (CWM) platform. Here are some key considerations for marketers during the selection, adoption and expansion phase:
1. Content and Workflow Management Platform Selection
How can CMOs facilitate collaboration for their hybrid, global marketing teams? Leena Iyar, chief brand officer at Moxtra, a client engagement platform built for the mobile-first world, recommends starting by evaluating the needs and pain points of the marketing team rather than the technology or platform itself. To manage business processes more efficiently and deliver a high-value client and employee experience in today’s distributed environment, said Iyar, centralizing all tools, documents and assignments under one hub and incorporating workflows into the overall digital strategy can strengthen collaboration outcomes.
Vendors offer a range of capabilities, but when it comes to picking what’s most important to your goals, Noa Kind, product manager for data and ML at Monday.com, recommended making sure the platform can integrate with your existing tools and platforms. If you need workflow automation customization, check for no-code or low-code capabilities. Flammer adds configurable reporting and advanced analytics as another consideration for added visibility. Specific needs based on your business model (B2B, D2C, etc.), user friendliness, and the ability to scale-up or down based on dynamic business and team needs are all factors to consider as well.
Finding the right balance between marketing and organizational needs is a tricky one. A tailored-for-marketing solution could be a good fit, but could also deepen silos. A more generic solution will aid broader collaboration, but may not meet every marketing use-case. Many platforms offer a generic collaboration and task management platform, along with specific function-specific features for marketing, finance etc., and that may be a good place to start, suggested Kind. Iyar added that if marketing requires a lot of external collaboration, then consider factors such as the ability to control and manage external-facing processes. In such instances, a purpose-built marketing workflow platform can better help streamline these processes.
When it comes to selection, marketing best understands how to manage, delegate and automate workflows for optimal employee experiences. But for more organization-wide buy-in, investing in external resources to renovate existing technology or evaluate and implement new solutions can be a solid approach, said Rob Kunzler, CMO of OnBoard, a board management platform.
“Some of the most successful collaborative/workflow platform roll outs I’ve seen have been conducted by external agencies, who spent time with each team/individual to understand how best to design a tool that effectively worked for everyone. You’ll never make everyone 100% happy, but this approach does bring more people on the journey, and inclusion can be half the battle,” he said.
2. CWM Adoption
Let’s face it — even email once faced adoption challenges going head-to-head with paper memos. Today, as hybrid workforce models and cloud adoption become mainstream, what are the typical and emerging challenges in driving the adoption of workflow automation platforms?
Iyar said a proper workflow analysis is key to success. “A very common misconception is that automating an inefficient workflow will create an efficient process. However it will only highlight the inefficiencies in the process more, not optimize the process.”
To streamline processes, Kind also recommended establishing clear definitions for key metrics, data protocols and KPIs to keep everyone on the same page and minimize frustration in complex projects. This seems even more important as teams are increasingly geographically and culturally dispersed, and communication and collaboration happens, in many cases, without any face-to-face contact.
Also consider the ill-effects of information being dispersed in too many platforms. If workflow automation platforms do not fully address all use-cases, it encourages fragmented tool usage, and the creation of even more silos. Kunzler suggested introducing a policy that mandates all communication take place on a single designated platform to avoid confusion when multiple platforms are in use.
Flammer reminded us of the fundamentals of adoption for any new technology: communicate early and regularly, educate, onboard mindfully, and consciously create a culture that supports sharing and cross-functional teamwork.
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3. CWM Expansion
AI and ML are changing the dynamic and the possibilities beyond the most obvious use-cases of workflow and collaboration platforms. What are the most exciting and promising use-cases as businesses plan and prepare for the future of work?
- Data analysis use cases: Beyond personalization, AI will continue to elevate global marketing efforts through the collection, management and analysis of data. “Features like project risk prediction, which processes massive behavioral data sets across the organization to glean complex insights can simplify decision making, and let marketers focus, execute, and deliver on work that matters most,” said Flammer. AI can also help identify red flags and outliers earlier in the process, and warn affected teams proactively so they can build alternate solutions.
- Removing silos to create and communicate a single source of truth: So everyone has full context for everything they need. For instance, at Kind’s organization, this approach is already letting marketing teams communicate across channels, connect the dots between marketing initiatives, manage spend and, overall, make better decisions that lead to more effective campaigns.
- Elevating marketing and sales effectiveness: CWM platforms can go beyond efficiency to impact revenue outcomes by providing single-window control over campaigns, budgets and resources. Single centralized sales pipeline workflows can give everyone real-time visibility, with faster GTM. With improved ease-of-use, marketing teams can create more campaigns while driving more operational efficiencies across internal and external stakeholders, especially traditional bottlenecks such as creative approvals.
- Driving external collaboration: AI-enabled workflow and collaboration platforms have the potential to act as private digital channels, especially in high-touch verticals such as finance, education. Inviting external teams (agencies, contractors, consultants, key customers) into the single tool — with the appropriate amount of security and access rights — can truly change the game for larger collaborative efforts and co-creation.
Chitra is a marketing practitioner who loves to observe, reflect, and write about events impacting modern marketing — and marketers. Chitra chronicles technology, disruptions, innovations, and the people shaping the space, with a special focus on marketing technology, customer experience and privacy related themes.