When I get in that spring cleaning mode, I take a look around my house and see the glorious vision of what it will be when I’m done: neat, balanced, and with all the right things exactly where they should be. No matter how many times I go through this process, I always deliberate what should stay and what should go, especially if I’m doing this with someone else (who may or may not think the stack of 10-year-old car magazines that I just know I’m going to read any day now belongs in the “stay” pile).
Regardless of the time of year, marketing operations professionals can “spring clean” their marketing tech stack. In Jeff Clark’s recent blog post “Need to Save Money? Don’t Throw Out Martech that Drives Value,” he outlined the steps you can take to evaluate your technology stack. You may have gone through this exercise and come out on the other side with an assessment that your peers and stakeholders completely agree on.
But if you and your coworkers are finding yourselves circling around whether some of your technologies should stay or go, here are some questions you can ask about each system or service to help bring more clarity and alignment:
- Is the technology really required? The first question to ask is how critical is the technology to the business? “Required” means the business cannot function without it. When looking at which technologies should stay, prioritize required systems, followed by those that drive the highest business value. Watch out for applications or services that “feel” required, but can’t show how they contribute to the business. For example, if your company has deployed a chatbot in the last couple years, but it’s not essential to generating demand and the metrics have not shown significant increase in customer satisfaction, is it really required?
- Is the technology redundant? When you look at your list, are there multiple applications that are required and provide business value, but offer duplicate features? This can happen with federated or siloed technology decision-making, an incomplete decommission of an old technology, or pilots that are being used well beyond their proof-of-concept phase. Do you have multiple webcast providers? Have you brought in new work management software, but have teams that haven’t moved over to it because they plan to use the old software until it is decommissioned? Assess your repetitive technologies for any that can be scaled to support other teams or departments so the redundant systems can be retired.
- Is the technology used frequently? As with redundant technologies, you may find items on your list that are supporting business objectives on paper and thus look necessary, but discover they aren’t used very often. This can happen when something like interactive content is part of your marketing plan, but after the technology to support it is implemented, you find the strategy wasn’t really adopted. This often means approaches and processes haven’t been adjusted accordingly and your “necessary” technology isn’t being used enough to have an impact on the business. Be sure you understand how and how frequently the technologies in your martech stack are being used.
- Is the technology being fully utilized? These days, marketing technologies often provide many, many features, but all that functionality comes at a price. Make sure that you aren’t over-investing, and that you’re using what you’re paying for. If you find technologies that aren’t being fully utilized, consider looking at alternatives, like more targeted solutions that provide just the capabilities you need at a lower cost, or turning off modules that are not in use.
- Is it costly to remove? There is often overhead that comes with removing a technology from your stack. Before you decide to remove anything, look at the upstream and downstream impacts. There may be a technology you can live without, but will removing it break other essential systems or leave critical processes unfinished? Also consider the decommissioning level of effort. If sunsetting a technology will take a lot of time, work, coordination, and clean-up, consider if the expense of the technology justifies the required resources to remove it.
Though spring is nearly gone (as my fellow southerners can attest), it’s never too late to perform an audit and spring clean your martech stack. If the current pandemic is a factor in your assessment and you’re looking to do more with less, make sure any changes made to your martech stack won’t create challenges for you in the future. Leave the door open to reintroduce technologies that support your growth priorities once the business stabilizes.