Martech implementation: 3 tips for cross-functional alignment

Seeking commitment and getting alignment are critical to ensure teams understand how the new solution will transform the way they work.

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Martech is cross-functional by definition. Yet, I’m stunned at how many people talk about implementing martech on their own or only within their team. This may result from differing priorities, the desire to move fast or other excuses. Unfortunately, it’s a recipe for bifurcated data and reporting, duplication of effort and — dare I say — an ineffective solution. For martech to be successful, you need cross-functional alignment and support for the solution.

One team may have the idea, funding or mandate from leadership to tackle one or several solution implementations, but that doesn’t mean complete ownership. One of the reasons I fell in love with martech was the people component. And by people, I mean thinking about the best customer experience, working with various teams and learning from diverse perspectives — technical, analytical and creative. 

If you are not considering your implementation from various angles, it will only address a portion of the problem. To implement, manage and maintain new martech solutions, I recommend the following.

1. Ensure proactive outreach and communication

This first action should be obvious, but allow me to elaborate. From the moment you identify a capability gap in your platforms, reach out to your cross-functional partners. Get their ideas and points of view on whether they see it as a problem. If they don’t, this is a good indicator of actions you’ll need to take to succeed in the change (e.g., will they need to be educated or convinced, do you need their buy-in, resources or support to get approval, etc.). Either way, it is good information for the future. 

If you want or need their involvement, ask them why they disagree that there is a capability issue. Understand the challenges or lack thereof from their perspective. Then, use that knowledge to gather specific content from vendors and research other teams that did something similar to address their outlook. Their perspective should frame how you ask them for their support and involvement — and you must ask. Seek their commitment in words and actions. Here are the ways I confirm commitment:

  • Ask for participation in the active implementation team.
    • “So who will you be allocating to the project?”
  • Ask to help communicate the project to their leadership.
    • “Do you have a forum to get support from X. Can I come and present this proposal with you as we need a firm commitment on time and resources?”
  • Ask for participation in the project plan development
    • “Who can help outline your actions and needs in the overall project plan?”

You do not have full commitment if you get pushback on any of these requests. Determine how critical they are to the project based on the work needed, their political clout and the capabilities managed. If they offer a similar capability and disagree that your new platform is critical, stop and figure out how to get alignment. Determine what platform will manage the capability before you begin implementation. 

Finally, make sure you have support for multiple levels. The CMO, CTO or other senior peers should agree on the solution and acknowledge that the project will occur simultaneously. Other leaders across the marketing, tech, data and other working teams should also have peers who are involved and aware of the project. Seeking commitment and getting alignment are critical to ensure teams understand how the new solution will transform the way they work.

2. Develop a cross-functional project plan

Throughout the solution outreach and communication phase, you should also be developing a joint project plan. Have your project manager use the conversations to begin outlining each teams’ needs and specific actions. Asking teams to weigh in and develop the plan is the best way to gauge their understanding of and commitment to the end goal. 

Depending on the size of your organization, you should consider the following teams in the cross-functional project plan: 

  • Marketing.
  • Martech. 
  • IT/engineering.
  • Analytics.
  • Marketing operations.
  • Data management. 

Each team will have a different viewpoint. Note that I called out marketing, martech and marketing operations separately. The marketing team and their marketing strategists will need to understand what your new platform can enable in terms of data and insights, measurements and new customer experiences. Whereas MOps will need to know how tactics are built, changes in the data and system capabilities impact their actual processes. Make time for each team to learn about the tech from their viewpoint and then work with them to indicate their contributions and specific actions. 

I also love to use the project planning phase to outline roles and responsibilities for both the platforms and individual teams. So, make sure you ask and agree along the way. Here are some example questions I recommend:

  • Given the new platform’s capability for doing X, can you help me outline how we will sunset that capability in Y platform? What, if anything, will we keep running in the system?
  • Do we agree that team A does Z and team B will do Y? Does that change with the new solution? Who is best suited to manage C?
  • What prerequisites, if any, do we have to meet before proceeding with D? How much time do you need to get the work done and align your partner teams?
  • If this new team takes on this responsibility, what will the remaining teammates work on going forward?

Now that you’ve defined the tasks needed for each team and understand their unique points of view, build a comprehensive project plan incorporating each team’s actions on the same timeline. Teams will likely feel more engaged and dedicated if their actions and progress are being communicated as part of the broader initiative. 

3. Define the new operating model

Now, I believe operating models are a bit art, a bit science and a lot personal. Most people don’t like change, but you will not transform anything if you don’t change it. You can’t even operate a new platform in the same way as the ineffective one.

Developing a superior operating model involves identifying the core capabilities and activities each team needs to perform and their interdependence and interactions. It also requires you to assess each team’s performance, strengths and challenges and determine the gaps and opportunities for improvement. 

Through an honest assessment, you can then design a new structure with defined roles and responsibilities. This will take time and may not be 100% complete until the platform is implemented. But having the conversations early and often will lay a foundation. Here are a few core topics that need to be addressed: 

  • Who will have accountability for core capabilities (e.g., template and component development, campaign build and sends, platform performance and uptime, reporting, etc.)
  • Who determines the product roadmap and feature enhancements? Who has the last vote?
  • Who is making the changes to the taxonomy, data, platform (front and back end), etc.?

This varies from company to company and there is no right or wrong way to manage martech platforms. It just takes honest and positive communication, compromise and a growth mindset. Focus on documenting key roles and responsibilities, system and budget ownership and platform governance that is best for your company. 


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Talisha Padgett
Talisha began her career in traditional marketing roles but has spent the last half focusing on leveraging technology & processes to improve Marketing effectiveness and the Consumer experience. She has led Martech in both IT and Marketing and understands both sides. She joined Microsoft in 2022 to led B2B Martech Platforms and AI. Previously at Comcast, she revamped the MarTech & Campaign Optimization team by re-defining roles, changing the relationship with Engineering, establishing new processes with the Marketing teams, and pushing vendors to be more accountable. At Under Armour, she joined teammates from IT, Engineering, and Marketing into a dedicated MarTech function and consolidated duplicative systems for a more effective tech stack. Having also worked at Marriott International, MarketBridge, and ServiceMaster, Talisha understands the nuance of how technology can be applied to solve business problems at scale. When she is not working, she enjoys traveling, hiking, meditating, and spending time with her family and close friends.

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