Traditionally, the Marketing and IT Departments lived in two different worlds with clearly defined roles. The boundaries that separated Marketing and IT were distinct and infrequently crossed prior to the existence of marketing automation systems, cloud-based CRMs and websites built with a CMS.
But, times have changed and so have the roles, functions and processes within the two departments. Some of the boundaries that previously separated Marketing and IT have faded, with little communication to direct. As a result, it’s not uncommon for assumptions and a lack of understanding to occur between the two teams – making both less efficient than they should be.
The fact that I’ve led a Marketing Department and my husband manages a team of IT staff has certainly given both of us insights on the perspectives from the other side. His venting about the requests and actions of his company’s Marketing Department has given me a greater understanding of how some marketing requests can impact an IT Department. On the other hand, my rationalizing some of those vents has given him a better appreciation of the demands and viewpoints of Marketing.
While it can be tempting to finger point, we all know that doesn’t solve the issues. Creating improved collaboration and alignment through open communication is key. But, it’s also helpful to understand the evolving roles of each department because both have changed tremendously and each is critical to the organization’s success.
Roles have changed in the Marketing and IT Departments.
The IT Department has always been much more than a group of people that fix broken computers (my husband will attest to this). A primary responsibility of the IT Department is to build and manage the IT infrastructure, which is a complex system of physical hardware, software and the network responsible for making all technical components (the company’s phone system, corporate email and business applications) work. Maintaining this infrastructure requires frequent maintenance and for many organizations, takes up much of the IT resources.
Because the primary role of the IT Department has always been to build and manage the IT infrastructure, Marketing faced more limitations and slower-than-desired turnaround times to their requests when CRM systems were built and maintained in-house and websites without a CMS were updated by the IT Department.
Now that many organizations use a cloud-base CRM system in conjunction with a marketing automation system and have their website developed with a CMS, most Marketing Departments have taken hands-on ownership of these areas – acquiring new technical skills a long the way. While this gives the IT team more opportunity to focus on evaluating and optimizing the IT infrastructure, it can also cause a disconnection when Marketing does not keep IT in the loop on projects that should require their involvement.
Marketing and IT must work together to increase efficiencies and meet goals.
While the skillsets and personalities of the Marketing and IT Departments are commonly thought to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, they must work together in order to increase efficiencies and meet goals.
Ensure that all levels communicate
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of communication. In the past, the Marketing and IT teams may have rarely communicated with minimal consequences. But, now it’s different. Timely communication allows both teams to have an opportunity to work together and to contribute their skills and expertise. Communicating at all levels (not just at the executive level) helps ensure that all members of both teams are on the same page and share the similar expectations.
Share goals and timelines
Sharing goals goes hand-in-hand with communication. The Marketing Department’s goals will usually be different from the IT Department’s but by sharing with each other, both teams have an opportunity to find a solution that will best meet the top priority goals. For example, while Marketing may be looking for a system that helps improve their marketing results and provides a measurable ROI, IT may want a system that provides good data control and security. The ultimate goal should be to find a system that does both.
Additionally, providing ample time to allow both teams to create a timeline to achieve the desired completion date is also important.
Take time to translate and explain
Most of us acknowledge that Marketing and IT speak a different language when it comes to terms used to explain processes and systems within their fields. Not taking the time to translate technical slang and terms will end up costing more time in the end. Furthermore, not using common language will most likely result in a key goal or step getting missed by the other team.
Build teams with the right skill sets and people
The roles of both teams have evolved and so have the skills needed to fulfill the new responsibilities. In many cases, resources have not been made bigger. So, it’s up to each department manager to ensure that they are staffing their teams in the best way possible. Ensure that you’re building your team with the right skillsets and personalities. You need people that will be able to get their job done and work with others to meet all goals.
Those who invest in ensuring good alignment and collaboration among their Marketing and IT teams will experience less frustrations and more success.
Contact Break Ice Marketing for more tips on bridging the gap between Marketing and IT.