How to collaborate across marketing & engineering teams when purchasing new technology

Learn how to align and collaborate across marketing and engineering teams, especially when it comes to launching new marketing software that benefits them both.

By Meg Buchanan

Perhaps you’ve already encountered a situation where your team wants to add a particular product to your marketing tech stack but is struggling to get your engineering team’s buy-in.

Cross-functional collaboration can feel like two teams speaking different languages. Yet, finding mutual focus is key to company success and staying competitive. Misalignment can result in inefficiencies and missed opportunities.

Bottom line? You may have different ways of getting there, but your end goal should be the same. We've created this blog as a guide for aligning and collaborating, especially when it comes to launching new marketing software that benefits both teams.

Below are our seven steps for effective cross-functional decision-making.

1. Get to know your tech team 

Before launching a kickoff call or campaign brief, consider getting to know your tech team, their tools, and workflow. This helps create a foundation for true partnership and advances your product goals. Start this process by looking into the following:

  1. Tool time: Familiarize yourself briefly with the tools your technical teams use for tasks like coding, testing, and project management.

  2. How to ask for help: Know where the engineering team goes to ask for help. This makes it easier for you to reach out for their expertise when needed.

  3. Collaborate and listen: Ask team members about their preferences for collaboration. Some might prefer meetings, while others like using email or Slack to communicate asynchronously.

  4. Speak their language: Learn some basic jargon, acronyms, and terms that may not come naturally to you as a marketer. 

  5. SWOT your existing relationship: Have an open discussion with your tech contacts to perform a SWOT analysis and identify areas for improvement in your team relationship.

Bottom line: This initial research sets the stage for effective collaboration and shared success between both teams.

2. Define your desired outcomes

Ensure everyone — teammates, cross-functional partners, and decision-makers — understands how a new solution can solve problems and benefit the business. Some key questions:

  1. Why do we need this software?

  2. Do we already have a solution? If so, why replace it?

  3. Could other teams benefit from this solution?

  4. Is there a deadline for implementation?

  5. Do we have the budget and resources to support it?

With these answers, you'll gauge whether a new solution is right for your business now, or if other options should be considered. If it’s the right fit, document your needs.

Involve your engineering team and key stakeholders like senior marketing leaders and cross-functional teams that could benefit from the tool, such as data analytics and customer service.

In addition to this, make a list of your selection criteria (or your must-haves and nice-to-haves). Certain selection criteria you might consider include: 

  • Cloud or hosted solution

  • System Integration

  • Support needs

  • Data security measures

  • User access and permissions

  • User experience

  • Analytics and reporting capabilities

Review and finalize your criteria. This will guide your search and help rule out vendors that don’t meet your needs.

To strengthen your case, map these features to your business and technical requirements. Knowing precisely what you're looking for will simplify your search process.

3. Identify key stakeholders and project boundaries 

For true collaboration, clearly documented roles and responsibilities are key. Establish these individuals early and gain their buy-in at each stage for success. We'll explore how to identify stakeholders and ensure alignment throughout the project below:

  • Project Champion: Team lead. Holds the power to escalate and champion the project. 

    • How to get their buy-in: Engage them early, aligning the project with strategic goals.

  • Business Owner: Articulates business goals, KPIs, and use cases.

    • How to get their buy-in: Show how the collaboration drives growth, improves customer experiences, and streamlines resources. 

  • Technical Owner: Understands technical architecture and allocates resources like engineers and data scientists. 

    • How to get their buy-in: Showcase technical advantages, such as streamlined processes and fewer engineering requests leads to increased efficiency and improved automation.

  • Marketing Owner: Defines campaign requirements and owns downstream activation tools where customer data is utilized. 

    • How to get their buy-in: Show how collaboration enables personalized customer experiences and access to real-time customer profiles without needing to constantly make requests to technical teams.

Next, discuss project boundaries to ensure stakeholder buy-in:

  • Recurring meetings: Determine cadence and style (video, call, etc.)

  • Agreed-upon communication channels:  Slack, Google Docs, email chain, etc.

  • Be human first: One of the biggest frustrations between any two teams is when we forget we’re dealing with human beings and not tasks. Prepare ways to handle conflicts to maintain project momentum.

4. Break down your budget

An important if not THE most important aspect to discuss during your purchasing journey is the cost of a tool and the often tricky chat about how to navigate the budget.

Here are two key considerations to consider when collaborating: 

  1. Lead with value

Deciding which department will bear the cost of collaborative projects is a crucial conversation. Presenting the value proposition could look something like this:

  • Marketing: Explain how the product will improve ROI by enabling better-targeted campaigns. For example, by building a comprehensive 360-view of the customer, marketers can better inform targeted campaigns and achieve higher conversion rates, resulting in decreased CAC (i.e. drive customer communications through the most cost-efficient channel). 

  • Engineering: Emphasize the technical benefits and long-term value that collaborative initiatives can bring to the engineering team. For instance, streamlined processes, enhanced data analysis, and improved customer experiences can lead to increased operational efficiency, reduced maintenance costs, and better product development (i.e. having access to a partner who has the most widely deployed APIs means you have a tremendous amount of access to examples, uses cases and suggestions from a huge community of developers). 

Presenting the value proposition to each of these departments in a way that resonates with them will help make a compelling case for budget allocation. 

  1. Explore solutions for collaborative budgeting 

It’s not always possible to divide the budget, but in the event that one department doesn’t want to take the entire brunt of the bill, there are solutions you can consider to share the cost. 

  • Cost-savings audit: Identify areas to optimize spending without affecting the project. Assess what resources are actually being used.

  • Collaborative slush fund: Create a shared budget for both teams, encouraging equal financial investment and collaboration.

  • ROI analysis: Conduct an analysis to prove the financial viability of the tool, emphasizing how the benefits outweigh the costs for long-term value.

5. Evaluate potential solutions

Once you’ve identified must-have features, key stakeholders, and your budget, kick off your vendor search. Ways to discover potential solutions include:

  • Using search engines

  • Asking for recommendations

  • Reading analyst reports

  • Looking at reviews

After identifying promising vendors: 

  1. Do your homework: Compare features and eliminate options that don’t meet your needs.

  2. Narrow down your choices and requests for proposals (RFPs): Shortlist top vendors and request vendors to share an RFP with your business

  3. Schedule vendor calls: Ask for demos and trials, involving all key decision-makers.

  4. Determine your front runners: Pick the best fits, ensuring integration with your existing tech stack.

  5. Consult customer references: For close calls, request your top choices share customer references that you can speak with. 

  6. Make your decision: Use the gathered information to make the final call and determine which solution is best for your business.

6. Use tools that encourage cross-departmental collaboration

The success of your software buying process hinges on effective cross-functional communication. Both synchronous and asynchronous methods are vital to keep everyone aligned on project developments and roadblocks. Here are a few tools to consider:

  1. Project management tools

Tools like Jira or Asana can help keep all stakeholders updated on timelines and responsibilities. They serve as a centralized location for project progress.

2. Instant messaging tools

Choose the right channels for more spontaneous or in-depth discussions. While project management tools manage tasks and updates, instant messaging tools like Slack handle one-off requests and questions effectively.

3. Twilio Segment and Engage Premier

Data silos can impede cross-team collaboration. A customer data platform like Twilio Segment centralizes data, aiding analytics and campaign management.

When everyone in your organization works from the same data set, you can ensure all of your teams are on the same page to make informed decisions. A centralized data hub can also help organizations build better personalized experiences for their customers on every channel a business uses — a win-win. 

7. Continue to improve in the future

After successfully purchasing your new marketing tool through cross-functional collaboration, there’s still more to do. It's key to integrate the tool into daily use and assess its effectiveness. Here are four ways to evaluate the success of your new system:

  1. Gather immediate feedback: If you send a survey several months after a project has wrapped, the chances of getting quality feedback is rare (if you get people to participate at all). Conduct a post-mortem as a final wrap-up step so you gather feedback when it’s still fresh.

  2. Evaluate performance and user adoption: Continuously assess the tool's impact by tracking predefined KPIs. This ensures you’re meeting desired outcomes.

  3. Address issues and challenges: Act on feedback to make process improvements. This could involve additional training, resolving technical glitches, or tweaking your implementation strategy.

  4. Continue to check in: Keep stakeholders informed with quarterly or biannual updates. Stay current on new integrations and continuously optimize cross-functional decision-making. This helps both the tool and teams perform better in future projects.

That’s a wrap

To successfully adopt new marketing software, clear communication across all teams is key. Follow the seven steps outlined in this blog to ensure a smooth selection process. 

Use your marketing skills to understand your engineering team's needs. Often, their objectives will align with yours, fostering agreement during software evaluations. Selecting the right software is a worthy investment for your team and business, paying off in the long run.

Learn more about how finding the right software to streamline your customer data can be beneficial to both your marketing and engineering teams in our full Buy-In Blueprint ebook.

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