Over the years working with enterprises on their Adobe Marketing Cloud implementations, in particular Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), Target and Analytics, I have noticed an interesting enterprise organizational strategy towards implementation that, perhaps counterintuitively, wastes valuable time and money.
The strategy relates to how an organization determines when and in what capacity to bring in an experienced implementation partner. Some organizations have the following strategy when attacking an implementation, and it is a flawed strategy.
DIY / Training → Direct Hiring → Staff Augmentation → Hire an Implementation Partner
First, DIY / Training
Organizations first begin with a DIY approach. They pull existing staff onto a project team and get them training to enable them to take on the implementation. The DIY approach is noble in that an organization wants to control its own destiny and develop internal capabilities to support the marketing cloud, however, the approach is flawed.
With Adobe Marketing Cloud, companies will realize that training alone will not be sufficient to implement the products and integrate them with various systems.
Next, Direct Hiring
I’ve seen organizations take months to realize they need outside help. What they do realize it, the first reaction is to post open job requisitions for project managers, architects, and developers with Adobe Marketing Cloud experience.
Hiring for any role can be a long road. Hiring for competent candidates with specialized skills in Adobe Marketing Cloud can be a much longer one. Requisitions can sit open for months without a single suitable applicant, which wastes time. In an even worst situation, an organization may feel pressure to make a bad hire to fill a role, leading to even more wasted time once their error is realized.
Then, Staff Augmentation
As an organization realizes the difficulty of direct hiring, they might look to a partner that can provide an experienced consultant or two to fulfill specialized technical needs like AEM development through a staff augmentation model.
In this case, bringing in a consultant can enable greater velocity and knowledge transfer, helping internal staff members come up to speed on Adobe Marketing Cloud. However, in staff augmentation type arrangements, the enterprise is still responsible for overall project management, which is what really sets the tempo of the team and quality of the platform deliverable. Therefore, staff augmentation is not always a workable solution.
Last, Hire an Implementation Partner
For those organizations that struggle even after bringing in a couple specialized consultants, they will need to bring in an experienced Adobe Marketing Cloud implementation partner to plan and execute the project end to end.
By this point, an organization has already spent a ton of time and money spinning wheels on an implementation. In the worst case, I have seen organizations struggle for eighteen months before finally bringing in a partner. Not only does this have direct cost in time and budget spent on the flailing implementation effort, but also it has associated opportunity cost in that launching the new customer experience on Adobe Marketing Cloud has been delayed.
How to avoid this trap?
To avoid the trap into which many organizations fall, consider reversing the steps.
Hire an Implementation Partner → Staff Augmentation → Direct Hiring → DIY / Training
Instead of going on the long, arduous, and often more costly path previously described, consider the faster and often less costly path of hiring an implementation partner first and then working your way towards DIY self-sufficiency.
First, Hire an Implementation Partner
By hiring an implementation partner first, the organization gets the benefit of bringing in the complete set of skills and knowledge required to launch Adobe Marketing Cloud. Through a proven process, the organization can shadow the partner, enabling knowledge transfer from partner to internal staff.
Another benefit of the partner first approach, the organization will launch their customer experience on the marketing cloud faster than it would in the previous approach. This speeds time to realize the value of the investment in Adobe Marketing Cloud.
Next, Staff Augmentation
As the partner completes the initial implementation, the organization may decide to move towards a staff augmentation model.
At this point, the organization will be in a much more knowledgeable place to make the right decision about the resources to let go and keep. The organization will be smarter about knowing which roles it can competently take over, and which it needs to continue to augment with a partner.
Then, Direct Hiring
If the organization desires to one day completely own the platform without involvement from a partner, it can direct hire employees to replace the consultants working through staff augmentation.
With a stable Adobe Marketing Cloud implementation, the organization is in a much better place to be patient in hiring the right candidate to fill a role versus hiring under duress in the initial scenario described here. If the candidate is junior and needs training, the organization has an experienced consultant in place that should be willing and able to aid knowledge transfer.
Last, DIY / Training
In the final stage, the organization has fully adopted the platform and can own it with internal resources. Now the internal teams are in a much better place to handle projects in a DIY manner. They can likely handle ongoing platform maintenance, new feature rollouts, and upgrades. Through ongoing training, the team can stay abreast of changes with the Adobe Marketing Cloud and marketing technologies.