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As an Operations Consultant at Trendline Interactive, I help enterprise clients transform their email marketing programs with an actionable strategy to streamline operations and uncover process efficiencies. While no two organizations are alike and every path to operational excellence unique, organizations generally share many of the same stumbling blocks. Almost always, these organizations are looking to take their email programs to the next level with testing and innovation, but lack the foundational efficiency needed to help them achieve their goals. With the end of the year fast approaching, I thought I’d detail three of the most common operational challenges I see and outline ways you can begin to address them with a new year – and a fresh start – just around the corner.
By far the most critical gap I find in enterprise organizations is a lack of documented processes. Most people don’t know how things are executed – they know their tasks, but collectively, they don’t know the entire process because it lives in the heads of the people who are doing the work and hasn’t been clearly defined. All too often, as an email program develops, people are doing their jobs and less focused on how they’re going to continue to deliver work at the same scale as the program grows. Often, teams can become siloed, and duplicative processes are added. You may have errors going out the door and find it hard to pinpoint why because the workflow hasn’t been mapped out. Worse yet, there may be no system in place for reviewing and improving your processes as your program grows. One of the first things we do for our clients is to help them document how their program is executed. Through this effort, we’re able to identify what gaps exist, define and refine roles, remove duplicative work, and most importantly, remove the dependence on tribal knowledge. This effort helps ensure scalability, consistency, and drive the efficiency that is going to allow for optimization and growth.
If you’ve ever spent time sifting through your email for approvals, feedback, legal revisions or documentation, you understand firsthand that’s it’s not an efficient process. While everyone is entitled to manage their time and tasks in their preferred method, chat apps and email shouldn’t take the place of a centralized project management system to provide a definitive source of information for everyone on the team. Investing in a centralized workflow solution is one of the single best ways to improve your operational effectiveness as it provides a “home base” for every project where team members can easily track timelines and tasks to see where the project stands.
All too often, I see clients mired in a seemingly endless loop of reviews and revisions that can stall their campaign timelines and leave them at risk for execution errors. Email marketing moves fast – so it’s critical to have a defined review process with clear quality control guidelines. While a campaign may have a number of stakeholders, it’s important to define who needs to review a campaign and at what stage of the process as too many reviewers can cause a bottleneck in the process. (It may be that your senior executive only needs to review a campaign’s initial comp, and not every iteration.) Reducing the number of approvals in your campaign workflow is going to result in a better final product with fewer revisions and less risk of an error going out the door.
You’ll likely have more than one person ask you what your resolutions are for 2019. Rather than setting your sights on the latest diet, why not make some business resolutions instead? By taking some steps toward operational efficiency, you’ll have the space, time and bandwidth to innovate effectively, next year and beyond.
Learn more about Trendline’s Operations Consulting services.