Our Points Of View On Sales & Marketing

Thought Leadership

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Intent Data – what is it?

What are the business benefits of Intent data?

Improves conversion odds. Intent helps your sales team identify which accounts are more likely to be interested or ‘in market’ vs. others, thus increasing the odds of successful pipeline conversion.

Prioritizes large number of accounts for sales to work through. When there is a one to many approach that your sales team is tackling, Intent data helps prioritize which accounts are more likely expressing some level of interest in your topic/product vs. other areas. 

Enables account targeting with appropriate nurture campaign air cover and/or banner interest based on account need. Intent data can trigger use cases of better web banner advertising (e.g. a surround sound effect on targeting) and improved nurturing odds based on what an account is actually interested in.

Improves ROI/utilization of existing Marketing & Sales Technology. Intent when integrated with the marketing automation or CRM platform can be used in a more aggressive way than using those same platforms without intent data.

There are a variety of intent data providers – G2 Crowd, Bombora, Big Willow (recently acquired), & TechTarget to name a few.

How are you using Intent Data?

 

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

#TOPO summary – ABM 2019

Today’s post is a Guest Contribution by Jennifer Metherell. Jennifer has recently attended the TOPO conference and summarized the trip on what she learned relative to her 50+ ABM experiences.

1) Embarking on the ABM Journey – every successful organization who has effectively built an ABM practice all had one common theme – START SMALL!  All of the organizations who shared their stories chose 3-5 accounts who they could sell more solutions too or a large solution too and ran well-orchestrated plays to them for both new or existing logos.  The main reasons they did this: 

  • Limited resources to execute internally 
  • Pilots were run to get sales and marketing aligned on simple common goals
  • No technology buys needed to execute 

2) Forget the Funnel – As customer experience plays a stronger role in differentiating your product and reduces churn, more and more organizations are ditching the concept of the Funnel for a holistic approach to customer acquisition and expansion. They are looking at more at their customer relationship as a loop and understand that growth and sustainability come from a symbiotic view.  This viewpoint also helps pave the way for more internal groups to work together with a single account plan from sales, to implementation and on to account management.  The traditional funnel is great for transactional relationships but lacks the structural needs to make the customer first a strategy in the organization. 


3) MQL – So long, farewell, we hate to say goodbye!  Ok let’s face it the concept of the MQL is needed as a first step in getting Sales and Marketing working together, but really this is just a mechanism for building a better path of KPI’s. TOPO was the first place I have seen a widely accepted and commonly spoke about the concept of the MQA. Organizations who are focused on targeting ICP accounts understand that more than one person buys and if you are waiting for inbound then you are probably too late.  It was refreshing to see so many talk about driving engagement with the right accounts and people and use pipeline created or closed as the metrics they report. However, this does imply that Marketing is aligned with Sales and they jointly agreed to an ICP, target lists as well as a process for working accounts. In addition, this new process is fully supported by a newer set of tools in the marketing place like provide insights – intent data, account level engagement, and account scoring. 


4) Intent Data – If you are waiting to drive inbound leads you are late for the party! Intent data is finally maturing along with a set of best practice business process for implementation.  Forward thinking and high growth companies have developed the following practices within their organization:

  • Jointly defined an ICP with C-Suite, Sales & Marketing 
  • Understand the personas and playbooks for gaining market share
  • Purchased tools to show intent along with engagement for creation of an account score to prioritize with sales and marketing 

Just like that co-worker who does not sit and wait to be promoted through years of service, people using intent data ensure market growth by outmaneuvering their competitors. Seeing this stuff is sooooo cool. It reminds of when we first got Marketing automation and were like “Oh my gosh we can see who opened our emails!” Thank you 2005 – LOVE THIS STUFF


5) Shared organization strategies for driving alignment with sales and marketing while totally crushing it: 

  • SDR/BDR whatever you want to call it lives under marketing but is paid by a sales comp plan 
  • Sales and Marketing start annual planning together by developing an organization whitespace report 
  • Marketing understands and has accountability against the revenue targets the same way sales does 

We’re really passionate about ABM – if we can be a resource to you, let us know how!

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Part 2 – Account Based Measurement

In our previous post, we outlined a maturity curve for measurement.

Today we dive more deeply into ABM Measurement.

Stage 1 “Undergraduate”

  • Account Based Basic Measurement – sometimes done in conjunction with Stage 1, this is where the SiriusDecisions 3.0 Account based measurement model begins to come into play with account level attribution.  
  • The most common measurement value we are hearing that Marketers are reporting up to their boards or CEO level on in this stage is that of Account Engagement within certain tiered accounts (Marketing Engaged Accounts).
    • An alternative to this measurement are ‘meetings within target accounts.’
  • The advantage of displaying this stage is one of unifying a view from both sales and marketing vs. the earlier models of celebrating marketing attribution on what could be low overall closing performance.   It also has the benefit of being a leading indicator of pipeline creation and actual revenue produced from ABM initiatives.
  • Other funnel measurements can be installed based on account status values leading to/through an opportunity stage.   Rather than snapshots of engagement, it’s also more valuable to show the trend of engagement over a period of time (from the last board meeting) to show progress. 

Stage 2 “Masters”

  • Advanced Account Based Measurement where sales and marketing channel effectiveness can be tested more deeply than that of other stages referenced above – this approach could leverage Engagio’s DASH product where ALL of sales and marketing activities are rolled up against the account with ‘fractional’ influence measurement models that can vary depending on how the user configures the attribution across all sales and marketing activities.   Why this approach may be helpful:

  • This measurement includes digital aspects that are commonly measured today, physical aspects (like face to face meetings) as well as velocity.
    • There is the ability to weight different elements of the buying process (persona, type of campaign and/or type of activity) such that an end user could test different models for the optimal weighting and scoring method.  We’ve seen other technologies get to a similar destination but through alot more business process change and engineering to get to the destination
    • A look back capability measuring any activity or campaign over a specified period, giving a client the ability to model different weighting structures and different minutes (although that ability would take some manual effort, it’s doable).
    • In most cases, all account activity is rolled to an account, including that of anonymous web traffic which is frequently missed by other measurement tools, valuable for those enterprises using Eloqua, Pardot, and Marketo.  This is valuable information to also aggregate in the overall activity of the account.
    • The ability to measure activities that precede a business outcome specified by the end user – for example:
      • Activities that precede an actual purchase
      • Activities that precede an opportunity creation
      • Activities that precede a meeting or MQA

It’s also easy to use.  We’ve been engaged with other measurement solutions that require either a massive process overhaul change impacting all users of a system (like Salesforce) and/or technical SQL programming that are robust yet resource intensive.  The ease of use of this native Salesforce deployment which works in either classic or lightning makes it appealing on several levels.

What are you finding valuable in your marketing measurement as it relates to ABM if you are in the mid-market?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Account Based Measurement, Part 1

Marketing measurement is a passion of ours at B2B Fusion based on these prior posts.  We’re starting to see more advanced business impact capabilities for Account Based Measurement that are valuable for Marketing executive reporting at the board level – and a maturity curve is starting to emerge in measurement that spans both lead based systems as well as Account Based systems.

There are also a number of measurement systems in today’s market ranging from Excel to (expensive) Google 360 to companies that dedicate themselves to measurement like Bizible, Full Circle, Proof Analytics, CaliberMind, Hive9, Strala, and Engagio among other measurement solutions that use BI from a data lake (Looker, Domo, etc.).   It’s impossible to cover all alternative measurement vendors in this one blog post.

There is a maturity of measurement in organizations as it relates to ABM and assumes a mid market (sub $500mm USD total revenue or less) company.  I’ll use ‘education’ levels as an analogy to explain.

One important “pre-requisite” for any stage – proper business process must be installed to have tangible as well as credible results. We’re running on a big assumption explaining these levels that you’ve already got the right business process in place. Data hygiene is a secondary pre-requisite. Where data goes bad at 2-3%/month according to Salesforce, proper attribution is only as good as the underlying data.

Stage 0 “Associate Degree”

  • the Sirius 1.0 or 2.0 model which is person or lead based, single then multi-touch attribution.  This seems to be the minimum several SaaS companies or mid-market clients already have installed where Marketers are progressively being measured on opportunities sourced from Marketing.  It’s become a familiar metric to boards with CAC (cost of acquisition), LTV (lifetime value) and related measurements.
  • There are typically either single or multi touch models.   The model leverages marketing automation and Salesforce.com, with some shortcomings in measurement but is a bare minimum measurement system in either a first or last touch model.  Companies like Bizible (now Marketo) and Full Circle Insights overcame single touch shortcomings with a multi touch digital and campaign attribution in their respecitve service offers to follow closely with the 1.0 and 2.0 models.
    • One example of multi-touch is a vendor like Full Circle, where there can be a variety of different ways to measure touches (linear, U shaped, W shaped, etc.) to attribute the campaign effort.
  • In this stage of measurement, there is no need yet to measure Account Based Marketing.   There may be a need to keep a lead based measurement alongside an Account Based structure which leads to the next stage.

In our follow on post, we’ll look at stages 1 and 2.

If you have feedback on what works well for you in stage 0, please let me know.

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Adobe’s Account Based Marketing Experience (ABX)

(Full disclosure – we were recently named an Adobe Insider and have been a long standing partner of Marketo, neither of which influence our point of view below.  Our expertise is Account Based Marketing in/around Marketo offer for B2B, so you’ll see that point of view reflected below).

Adobe announced an initiative to aggressively go after an ‘Account Based Experience’ because customers buy experiences, not products, according to the CEO of Adobe.  Adobe views the Account Based Experience encompassing Sales, Marketing, and Customer Support.

Adobe is 5 months in their B2B acquisition of Marketo (and about 9 months into Magento) but at their recent summit, they had a number of announcements relevant to B2B that we summarized in this video:

Let me add more color as to what we saw.

Here is what is most significant to me coming out of the show as it relates to Account Based Experience – I see all sorts of possibilities with Adobe’s vast resource base, it’s enterprise customer focus, and it’s strong relationship with Microsoft who owns LinkedIn. More specifically:

  • Adobe can potentially leverage their Test & Target product to push relevant content to websites that are specific to end user need, thus personalizing an ABX experience.  The price point may need to come down as T&T is enterprise grade, Marketo is more mid-market focused.  But the promise here is very strong.
    • Demandbase was also referenced as a strong intergration partner;  in theory, integrating Test & Target with Demandbase would drive that customized content experience for ABX.
  • With an Account Based Conversation integration with Drift, a conversation can be had via chat that is relevant to the buyer who is on the receiving side of chat – for example, an initial chat with a ‘C’ level executive may have different content track to start with a ‘non-C’ level within a target account.
  • LinkedIn
    • While it was not entirely clear what the exact relationship would be, we are guessing it will allow the ability to pass users to target from the sales team’s Sales Navigator licenese to a company’s LinkedIn’s ads.
    • There may be some limitation here on the number of ads or contacts that one can reach.  This integration sounds promising but more needs to be seen here beyond the press release.
  • With it’s announcement of LiveRamp and Demandbase, Adobe Marketo users can now target companies via ads that are in those respective networks.
  • CDP development
    • While they used the words CDP (Customer Data Platform), as a creative company, it was not entirely clear to me what they intended or meant.  It is a Marketing buzzword but it is indeed the right direction for a B2B for Account Based Experiences where all data from all touch points is aggregated, orchestrated, then focused towards end users.

I think what excited me most about Adobe is they have wasted no time digging into understanding how Marketo can enable them to reach new markets or be combined with existing technologies to drive a deeper, rich ABX experience.  Having witnessed other marketing automation provider acquisitions, this one seems to have moved significantly quicker with a more unified vision than that of other similar-sized acquisitions. 

Five months into an acquisition isn’t very long, though. It’ll be interesting to see what the next year holds in store with Adobe and the progress they make against their own objectives.

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

ABM & Data – how to think of it

Want to learn more about data? Click here.

[Jon] Hi I’m here with Scott Vaughan. He’s the Chief Growth Officer of Integrate and Scott and I were just talking about data. Data decays, Scott, at two to three percent per month at the contact level.

Make it very hard for sales and marketing productivity. What are you seeing in terms of an account based marketing strategy with data right now?

[Scott] Well, if you’re gonna do an account based strategy like that, data is everything. You need the account intelligence, you need to be able to build out that buying committee and the contacts. And we’ve got a massive data hygiene problem. We’ve got one in our existing database that we’ve compiled and spent a lot of money to build, so we have to get clean, but we also have one that we’re spending a lot of money on demand dollars from all these sources to bring data in, and frankly, with all the direct integrations and just pushing in lists and all those things without validation, without governance, it’s killing the database even more. So you’ve got this investment in your expensive tools like marking animation, CRM, your data warehouses, and you’re pushing bad data in, and so it’s just compiling. So we are seeing those that have a get clean, clean your database, and stay clean, putting a level of governance and ability to comply at the top, as that data comes through, is really helping demand marketers and leadership focus on driving more value, focus on creating higher conversions, and then being able to do better targeting. That all adds up to more pipeline, more revenue.

[Jon] And who do you see owning the initiative for data governance? It’s a great point about data, and really important point that sometimes people miss, but who do you see as the owner in the organizations that you target?

[Scott] So, revenue ops, which can be sales and marketing or sales or marketing, is really sit at the center. CMOs know they have a problem, even sales leadership knows they have a problem, but we try to work with marketing and sales ops to help drive those conversations. And know that there’s an answer. Because it’s not just, clean your data’s not a big initiative, you tell your CMO that, where’s the revenue? Well it’s a step to be able to go then really increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the investment of your people’s time and everything that you do.

[Jon] Makes sense, and you just recently got promoted to chief growth officer from CMO, what kind of trends, how you feeling about that, what kind of trends are you seeing there?

[Scott] I’m a little overwhelmed, in a good way, we’re a high growth software company so what we decided to do is put somebody in place who pivots and connects sales, marketing, product and customer success, and be able to apply specific account plans and strategies against those, our top 25 customers, using a rough number, our highest potential prospects, and then bringing to bear all the resources, including our technology alliance partners, like Marketo and Bombora, LinkedIn, and then our solutions providers, those are the folks that work on the front line with our customers. So it’s a really exciting role, it’s strategy, but it’s building again. After CMO for five years here at Integrate and building the brand and the initial demand channels, it was time to hand that to somebody else who could do great work at the next level of scale, and this allows our company to have a really intense focus on growth.

[Jon] With the average tenure of a CMO of 18 to 24 months you’ve more than doubled that.

[Scott] I beat the odds. On the data, I survived.

[Jon] Congratulations on that, that’s no small feat, and I guess last question, outside of Integrate, what do you like to do for fun?

Well, lately a lot of hiking and exercise, trying to get that mental health and capacity, that’s been more and more trying to work that in. You know here we’re in Scottsdale, it’s beautiful, trying to get out and about and get that activity going, that’s been the thing I think I’ve added and focused on the most outside of work.

Awesome, well thanks again Scott.

You’re welcome Jon, great to see ya.

Great to see you.

Alright.

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Waterfall Metrics

Many companies, particularly older SaaS companies, are still stuck with a lead based sales and marketing system while testing an account based system.  For those with a lead based system, the handoff points between sales and marketing can be critical.

In many client scenarios, we see low conversion rates between MQLs and SALs.  This is a sample set from all Marketo customers that ranges from 20% to 33% based on the maturity of the company of their funnel conversion.  The conversion rate is a function of Average Selling Price, Total contract value, sales cycle length and sales cycle type.  

In our experiences of seeing a pattern of low MQL to SAL conversion, this situation can usually be traced to 1 of 4 items or combo of items:

  1. No rigid acceptance criteria by the receiving function (SDRs) and/or no clear lead definition criteria agreed upon by sales and marketing – no accountability by parties or dashboards that can trigger non-compliance alerts and thus finger pointing.
  2. Too high of quantities of MQLs pushed to SDRs that are of low quality or low value – this is what we see most frequently as evidenced by actual conversion rates
  3. Lack of capacity of SDRs to execute on MQLs that marketing produces, so SALs are left untouched.
  4. SDR function that works for head of sales who is more motivated to do pure outbound ‘dial for dollars’ than to follow up on inbound.

Sometimes Marketing is unfairly asked to contribute even MORE to pipeline year over year across a flat or minimally growing budget against a weak conversion point that we spelled out above – we see that phenomenon quite a bit in the first quarter of the year.  In some cases, this calculation makes sense as investors want to see a more efficient sales/marketing engine as evidenced by a lower Cost of Customer Acquisition (CAC) over time.  However, Marketers are asked to make a “step function” change in CAC which is extremely risky to hit expectation wise.

There are ways to combat this increased pipeline challenge of marketing shouldering all the burden and other ways to improve revenue for the company that marketing can influence:

  • Fix the MQL to SAL problem – depending on the cause as identified above, one could address this overall conversion issue.
  • Reduce churn – with customer marketing, you can help drive better LTV and with better churn numbers, you can reduce the pressure sales AND marketing feel on generating new business – you have to generate fewer new MQLs to sustain revenue
  • Ask your CFO what he/she thinks about the sustainability of a step function change in CAC;  in our experiences, that is not a scalable solution in any SaaS environment, a good CFO will know that and may come to your defense.

Addressing any of these areas will help for better sales and marketing alignment, improved stakeholder satisfaction, and longer term tenure by a head of marketing.

What trends are you finding in your waterfall lead metrics?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

SDR Outreach – Salesforce.com

As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, the SDR function is likely the most valuable function in the organization yet is often under-invested with newly minted college graduates slogging away at cold to qualify objectives.  On average, half the time these SDRs work for Marketing, half the time they work for sales.

Salesforce is the daily tool of many of these SDRs, either SFDC Classic or Lightning or combination thereof.  SDRs are busy logging their activities of meetings, follow ups, phone calls – and seeing which of their prospects have had marketing automation activity (website visits, forms, webinars, etc.)  Typically SDRs are queuing up a cadence for their prospect using several valuable tools – Salesloft, Outreach, and Yesware;  by our estimates, Salesloft and Outreach are the most frequent tools we run across in our client base.   While Marketing Automation have tools that are functionally equivalent (eg Marketo’s Tout), we typically see these marketing automation tools deployed the least.

Typically we see these set of SDR enabling tools offering the ability to enroll a segment, set a cadence of email touches, allow end users to customize those cadences for the right situation, and report out on metrics.  Outbound dialing capabilities are usually found in other packages – InsideSales.com and Connect and Sell being two market leaders with various packages addressing that aspect.

However, there is a new entrant in the market in Sales Cadence and dialing capabilities –  and that’s Salesforce itself.

In the Spring 19 edition, Salesforce now has an optional package called ‘High Velocity Sales Tools’.  This for-fee add on capability not only replicates the cadence capabilities of the tools mentioned above, but it also gives an optional for-fee dialer capability.   More importantly, it gives Lightning Salesforce SDRs the ability to have prioritized workflow based on Salesforce Einstein capability – our early testing indicates that Einstein prioritizes the leads with Einstein Lead Scoring activity at the top of the queue, such that the most likely to close are worked on first.  This is potentially a huge leap over competitive tools BUT assumes Einstein Lead Scoring and Einstein Activity Capture is enabled and in place.  There is also a private workspace for SDRs to work within their leads which make it attractive.  In theory, this new offer should be more tightly integrated than that of a 3rd party tool.

While it may make independent companies like Salesloft, Outreach, and YesWare a bit nervous, Salesforce’s own track record of acquiring partners marketing automation and CPQ solutions show that the market can sustain both a Salesforce acquisition for native capabilities AND outside players.  Salesloft and Outreach have a few year head start over Salesforce so one would think their momentum will carry.  Where we’d expect Salesforce to make greater inroads with this newer capability are in brand new, pure Lightning installations moving forward.

What remains to be seen is how well marketing automation can complement the Einstein sales activity if the system is not Pardot – Marketers who are concerned about conversion should keep a careful eye on this.

Which tools are you using for your SDRs?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

What should I measure in Marketing?

As I mentioned in a previous post, as a former CMO with a passion to measure marketing impact on the business, I’m often asked by others ‘what should we measure in marketing?’  Let’s dive deeper into ideas of what to actually measure.

We typically see two models depending on whether you are trying to take business decisions from measurement OR if you are trying to ‘account’ (or justify) marketing investment.

Model 1 – CEO/Board reporting

  • If your board of directors or CEO are interested in marketing reporting, they are going to care a lot about cost of acquisition, particularly in SaaS based companies. Lifetime value is also a valuable metric to consider when it comes time for acquisition costs – in a SaaS model, measuring lifetime value by cohorts can be helpful.  These are typically manual measurements vs. system measurements.
  • The cost of customer acquisition, particularly in SaaS based companies is a manual calculation vs. a system calculation yet is very valuable for board level reporting. This acquisition can be more valuable if done by cohorts.
    • It goes without saying the CAC to LTV ratio from the above figures is also worth showing a trend on.
  • In the maturing stage of a SaaS company (i.e. beyond 7 years old), they’ll eventually want to see a decrease in total marketing investment relative to that of revenues – ideally revenues should be climbing at a significantly faster rate at that point relative to that of marketing investment.
  • Measuring performance in cohort retention in SaaS models are a must do – but again need context. Often times we’ll hear of 90% annual retention rate celebrated yet if you look at the cohort retention rate over say a 3 year or more span, the retention rate in cohort will average more like 66%.  Marketing has a huge upside in influencing retention in these longer cohort areas as a small change in retention adds to a substantial bottom line improvement; however, most marketers have very little incentive to invest their time here vs. acquisition.  This is where looking at compensation plans is critical.

Model 2 – Head of Sales/ Marketing Reporting

  • Sales may be more interested in what you in marketing are sourcing although in our experiences, this conversation can be tricky with a head of sales because you are ‘accounting’ for how a deal gets sourced – be careful with this one politically!
  • For those Account Based Marketing fans, Account engagement could be another CEO or Sales metric to measure – we’re seeing that boards of directors in SaaS companies are not yet asking for this metric, yet for an account based strategy, it is a leading indication of success.
    • Account engagement can be measured a number of ways or tiers – from an account with a contact that has some level of engagement beyond an email open (for example, download, webinar attendance, booth visit, demo – a ‘success’ metric’).
    • It can also be measured as an open stage 0 or stage 1 opportunity against the account, preceded by some period of time with a campaign attached to the contact related to the opportunity.
  • If you are measuring a lead based approach, there can be a variety of models to consider – first touch, last touch, and multi-touch are the most common.
  • Multi-touch attribution is best handled by 3rd party software in addition to you your marketing automation platform and CRM system. For multi-touch attribution, there are a variety of models to consider – even touch across all points, a W touch model, or you can with some software packages rank/rate the touches based on frequency.
    • In our client base, we have experienced vendors like Full Circle, Bizible, Terminus, LeanData, Engagio, and Calibermind to name a few.  Each have its strengths and weaknesses.
    • We also see Tableau or a visual tool layered ontop of an SQL database.
    • Lastly, Excel which has been around since the 1800s is also a tool we see deployed (just seeing if anyone actually reads these posts lol).

What are you measuring in Marketing today and how are you measuring it?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

System Changes: Quality Control

Customer end user satisfaction is everything.   Thinking back to my days as a SaaS CMO in both private and public companies, in an agile environment, we’d go through a very rigorous development pre-process to ensure a reasonable outcome for a minimally viable product.

As a company matures, strategy changes.  Infrastructure supporting the strategy changes.  Business process changes to better support customers.  The need to integrate more systems together to have a better customer experience changes.  With all these macro changes, a rigorous process to support these internal system changes must be put in place.

We typically see a greater need for methodical change in Salesforce than that of Marketing Automation because Salesforce impacts how every user in the company can operate.  Getting a system level change wrong in Salesforce is VERY visible INTERNALLY;  getting something wrong in marketing automation is VERY visible EXTERNALLY.  Each of these scenarios impedes a good end user customer experience.

Skipping steps in a process to drive new features or product creates visible customer errors, costs sales & marketing productivity, and undermines organizational confidence.  Yet so many companies with executive leaders often overlook the value of taking a methodical approach within their own systems (Salesforce, marketing automation) hoping to speed the process.  Eager and impatient for results, an executive wants to jump right to the outcome.  While I too was a former impatient executive, I’ve come to learn jumping to the outcome involves significant organizational and productivity risk.

In our experiences with Salesforce.com and systems that connect to Salesforce, the companies that are best in class also follow a rigorous 5 step process before rolling out change.

  1. Requirements definition and system design
  2. Architecture, set up, customization – sometimes in a sandbox, sometimes in production
  3. User Acceptance Testing
  4. Make iterations / round of revisions – repeat steps 1-3 as needed
  5. Launch, training, and documentation

 

In step 1, requirements are defined and a system is designed on paper (eg powerpoint).  This gives all parties the opportunity to do ‘what if’ analysis before designing in system, and gives the ability for organizational change management buy in.   It’s the least risky step yet the most valuable to do of the five steps, to ensure a successful outcome.

In step 2, once the requirements are signed off, then design can take place within the system – in some cases this design is done within a sandbox (eg Salesforce sandbox) to minimize the risk of change.  In other cases, change is made right to production.

Step 3 is often overlooked.  When an outside agency or any party is building software or configuring systems, going through a rigorous test process ensures minimal mistakes are made.   While one would expect the configuration itself to be accurate, users often time see edge use cases not readily apparent when diagraming things out on powerpoint.

Feedback is acted upon in step 4.  If new findings arise in step 3, now is the time to remediate issues.  This may require repeating steps 1-3 but only if a substantial change is needed.  Typically, minor point changes are needed at this stage.

The final step involves launching the changes and training the trainer or training the end users on what to expect on those changes.  This ensures a consistency in the organization, rather than just one or two people knowing about the change.  Documenting the change is also helpful.

When these steps are taken, you can assure your internal stakeholders are happy as your end product will be more accurate.

When business needs change, what is the process your team uses for system change to support the business?