Real Stories: Stakeholder Extremes

Welcome to the first in a series of case studies about what has and hasn't worked well for Real Story Group subscribers selecting MarTech and CX technology.  This first post talks about bringing the right people to the table at the very beginning.

The Right Number of Stakeholders

You'll want to involve a wide array of people at the beginning of any tech selection process. In fact, getting colleagues' thoughts on what's working well and not well early in the process is the first step in the change management associated with rolling out any new technology.

However, the key is to find the right balance between too many and not enough (of the right) stakeholders. I've definitely witnessed some extremes...

Case Study #1: Leadership Decides

One RSG subscriber decided that their CMO and CTO would become the sole representatives in a DAM platform selection process because they “knew exactly what the organization needed.” Now, you really do want to make sure that all technology decisions are aligned with broader IT and (especially) business strategies.  But this particular approach proved to be problematic for several reasons.

First, the staff members who would actually use the new technology on a daily basis would feel disinvested and resentful of being told what they needed to use to do their job. Second, with minimal stakeholders, the process would inevitably become limited in scope and prone to the schedule challenges of two busy people. Finally, it would preclude the sorts of hands-on testing essential for a truly design-thinking-oriented process — a process we know sets you up for long-term success.

Ultimately I persuaded the executives to give structured input into the methods, decisions, and outcomes, without taking over the selection process themselves.

Case Study #2: Too Many Participants

I advised another enterprise in a Marketing Automation selection where we encountered an auditorium full of stakeholders: literally more than 60 people on the selection team! Of course you want broad input, but an effective decision-making team never meets in an auditorium...

Among the many problems with this method was that the customer felt compelled to use a numerical scoring survey to take the pulse of the stakeholders, at the expense of having a reasonable discourse about what worked and didn't work for the different stakeholders.  Eventually we put together a smaller team of proxies to both re-engage the vendors in a more qualitative and open way, and critically assess the key trade-offs before coming to a final decision on finalists.

And what about those 60 people?  We invited them to participate in the all-important bake-off round.

Lessons Learned

Lesson #1: Find the right blend of leadership and actual practitioners—ideally, 8–12 people—but err on the side of practitioners and get efficient input (rather than constant participation) from busy execs.

Lesson #2: Find the right proxies who can speak to different collections of internal interests, rather than involve every last user up front.

Lesson #3: Widen the team at bake-off time.

We've also compiled a longer list of tips on how to build the right team

As always, feel free to reach out to me or an RSG colleague if you'd like another set of eyes on an important platform selection process at your enterprise.


Our customers say...

"Finally, a review of MarTech suites that takes a critical look at these tools. I found it essential to understanding the promise of these solutions -- as well as some important tool and vendor weaknesses."

Alexander Deligtisch, Founder, Spliteye Multimedia

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