avoid technology project failure

Avoid Technology Project Failure with This Advice

It's simpler than you think.
I attended the 404 Conference, hosted by Kentico, last week in Las Vegas. Of course, all the speakers both business and tech-focused were fantastic! Over the course of the three-day event, I began to hear an echoed theme– how do we to get different departments on the same page for these impactful projects? Let me explain.
 
If you are reading this blog, you have probably chosen to work in tech or marketing or something that touches or requires one or both. And you know that we are all very passionate about what we do each day. This passion is fantastic, but it can also be a severe roadblock.

When dedicated passionate people come together to build a website, app, or software solution, getting everyone on the same page can be difficult and sometimes impossible. I learned some tips at the 404 Conference that will help you avoid a technology project failure at your company, and it all begins with Communication. It can be either your friend or a seriously dangerous foe.
 

Content First

Brian McKeiver, Co-owner at BizStream echoed this communication theme in his presentation Content Last – A Strategy for Success or Failure? In keeping with the 404 Conference’s, learning from failure theme, Brian discussed some interesting complications that occur from not including the real content for your project at the start of a web project. 
content first failure
Unfortunately, the standard web project process can inhibit the inclusion of and planning around real content during the design phase. A couple of problems causes this issue; the marketing or content teams don’t have the content ready early enough to submit during the design phase, or on the other side of the coin, the designers are only thinking in the context of “building pretty designs.”  In fact, many, many, many designers will use the Lorem Ipsum filler text. This is a big no, no. The content your writer will inevitably produce will never fill your blessed white space the way that filler text does, and then that beautiful design will feel empty or stuffed – either way, No Bueno.

When this design fail occurs, you not only have to spend time in a redesign phase, inevitably the development team will have to spend time redeveloping the page to fit the new design – no one wins when this happens – project cost increases and timelines grow.  All because we didn’t all get on the same page in the beginning and start the project with the right information, in this case, it was communicating the exact content needed for the project before diving into the “fun part.”
Content first wins


Include Devs and IT at the Start

Let’s switch gears and move toward the developers. During the CMS Connected Live Panel Discussion, Maarten van de Hooven, Kentico Developer from TrueLime brought up our communication topic as well. During Q&A Maarten brought up the highly valuable point that even though sales and marketing communication and alignment is a hot topic right now, the dev team should always be included in the solution discussions with sales and marketing. And I will take that even one step further, IT – don’t leave the IT team out either! Communication between all these departments is vital to the success of any tech project.
 
The huge misconception is that the Dev and IT Teams can just wave a magic wand and build solutions to support sales and marketing project needs when they haven’t even been included in the initial discussions around the purpose and intent for the solutions.
 

Fail, Learn, Fix, Succeed

Maarten also discussed a few related points during his presentation: How to Lose Clients in 10 Days? And how to get them back.
how to lose clients

While sharing the overview of a successful multi-website launch for a client, Maarten also shared that the launch resulted in a steep downturn in website traffic. This is an all too familiar situation for many website development companies, and Maarten’s team came up with a nice list of solutions for their exact project's failures.  However, the most critical of this list is the first, and it can benefit any web dev team: Changing Client Training.
change your training
Due to a miscommunication, there was a key piece of information that Maarten’s client missed which contributed in large part to the downturn in their site traffic. The fact that Maarten’s team took the time to change their customer training is the most important piece of his presentation. Many times we see issues during a project and fail to communicate back to the very people who can impact change for the next project. Hence – getting everyone on the same page EARLY and avoiding the misstep next time.
 

Over Communicate

CEO of Bit-Wizards, Vince Mayfield, also built his presentation The Big Bang Project – IT nerd and Marketing Chic: Fail or Fuse on this very same topic of communication. Marketers need to do more and do it quicker, and IT still holds the deployment controls and dolla bills ya’ll. This growing and familiar situation has caused marketing teams everywhere to search out solutions to their needs and circumvent the IT department entirely (Shadow IT). Large and small companies alike are dealing with this type of communication breakdown. And Vince’s suggestion is to over communicate. I agree.
over communicate


Take Risks – Get Buy in First

Of course, I was looking forward to this splendid opportunity to listen to famed author and marketer extraordinaire, Ann Handley from MarketingProfs. I was entranced and took pictures of every slide in her deck –nerd, yes I am.
 
However, I was pleased to hear Ann speak the same marketing truth I hold dear. She clearly loves marketing and writing and all that comes with both, and she proudly says “The biggest missed opportunity in content is playing it too safe.” Agreed! However, in that statement lies a piece of truth on which she did not expound. To successfully execute this profoundly memorable and non-safe content – everyone in the organization has to be onboard with it. Stakeholders, marketers, designers, developers, IT (even) – anyone who will have a hand in building the content or supporting it from a technology standpoint. If you leave out some of or too many of these people, you will jeopardize the success of your campaign. Again – we have to get all the players in the same room, speaking the same language no matter what our digital project.
get buy-in for risks


Trust and Win Together

Again we come back to my initial point: We are all passionate and have something important to add to the website, app, or software project our company is undertaking. We all want to contribute and have our voice heard. We all want to build the business; we all want to make money. I mean, come on – that is why we are in this “business thing” right, (yes make an impact, blah, blah, blah) but honestly, it’s all about the revenue – “Show me the money!” At some point, it all boils down to that very fundamental truth.
 
So whether we are marketers, developers, designers, sales, IT, or even C-level execs if we are going to be excellent at building our businesses and gaining market share, we need to find the right process for getting the right people in the room together when starting these very visible and revenue impacting projects. Technology will continue to morph and change at the speed of light. As a tech marketer, it’s exciting! But to keep up with it and deliver value to our customers, we have to figure out how to speak the same language and believe that we all want to win – together. Figure this out for your organization, and you will win.

Oh - and here, just throwing this last image in for the marketers out there - some inspiration from Ann on jumping in and taking risks! Hit me up on Twitter or leave comments below!
dont be safe in marketing
 
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Author

Candace R. Mitchell, Director of Digital Marketing
Candace R. Mitchell

Director of Digital Marketing

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