In our first blog, “The CDP program lifecycle,” we outlined best practices for planning and executing the five stages of a customer data platform (CDP) lifecycle. In this blog, we consider the various roles needed and how to organize your teams.
Organizing your team for early program stages
The early-stage team responsible for the strategy, value-creation models, and CDP activation should include the following roles:
- Executive project sponsor (typically the CIO or CMO — someone who can advocate for and enforce new ways of doing business)
- Business business team leader (likely from marketing or e-commerce)
- Customer audience expert(s)
- Channel systems expert(s)
- Data analyses and engineering expert
- Front-end developer(s)
- CX (UI/UX) expert
- Creative designer
- Optimization analyst (primarily responsible for A/B testing, multivariant testing, or both)
This list may appear easily attainable or excessive, depending on your organization’s level of maturity. As we mentioned in the first blog of this series, small teams often include members who wear multiple hats. We have seen some very lean teams, and the number of resources often expand as the program’s ROI, scope, and complexity increases.
Teams also typically rely on other resources on a more ad-hoc basis, including digital strategists, solution architects, integration specialists, developers, data scientists, and ML/AI experts.
Finally, often the organization relies on agency partners to provide some of these resources and expertise on a project basis. From the start, everyone involved should be aligned on roadmap timelines, assignments, and coordination cadence. Tasks should be delegated to team members based on subject matter expertise.
The beginning of the project is when you should clearly define the roles and responsibilities and invest in training and key hires. It is important that the company’s culture supports your success; the organization must grasp the need to drive business initiatives from customer data insights and see customer data initiatives as ultimately leading to strategic competitive advantages.
Executive and operational alignment starts at the very beginning with the education and inclusion of stakeholders in the readiness activities. This will ensure that their objectives, as well as their competitive and operational challenges, are addressed.
Organizing your team for experience delivery
On an ongoing basis — depending on the scope and velocity of the planned program — a minimal core team can consist of an executive sponsor, a business leader, a program manager, a CX/UX lead, and a data science analyst. This core team is responsible for the business or marketing activities and for setting up and measuring tests.
They are usually supported on a part-time basis by channel leads, functional leads (such as e-commerce, customer loyalty, operations) designers, data scientists, and testers.
They also often work closely with a tech team responsible for ongoing development and integration activities. This team may include architects, channel-specific tech leads, data analysts, and developers.
A marketing operations center of excellence (COE)
Increasingly, organizations are using a hybrid model. In this model, a marketing operations center of excellence (COE) includes some of the specialized resources and collaborates with business units on specific initiatives. The marketing operations COE may end up being the home of the CDP.
In mature organizations, process managers are also included to coordinate initiatives across business units to ensure alignment and seamless customer experience.
The role of agencies
When leveraging an agency partner to augment an under-resourced internal team, the partner team should include at least a project manager, a business analyst, and a success manager. This is in addition to the development and other resources outlined above, provided on a staff augmentation basis.
An agile approach to an ongoing initiative
We want to emphasize that while the initial setup of the CDP can be viewed as a project with a distinct beginning and end, the ongoing program is managed not on a waterfall basis but rather on an agile basis.
While the overall customer strategy is visited on a less frequent basis, the team utilizes a backlog of items (such as use cases, design tasks, tests, and technical development tasks), which it prioritizes in sprint planning sessions on a (typically) bi-weekly basis. The design-build-deploy-measure sprints are (also typically) 4-weeks long and include weekly meetings and daily standups.
The results of experiments can be consolidated and shared with business stakeholders to build awareness beyond your core team on the role and goal of optimizing content for continuous improvement. Experience variants that are identified as winners are promoted and published as the always-on, default experience.
We recommend that you start with use cases (experiences) that deliver value quickly but enable the team to scale for future growth. This typically gets addressed up front, and at the steering committee, to which we turn next.
The Steering Committee
To ensure long-term success and accelerated results, we highly recommend that a CDP program Steering Committee be established. The committee should provide ongoing strategic guidance and oversight. It typically consists of the CMO, CIO, and other functional leads (for example, Sales, Service, Customer Success, Customer Loyalty, and Finance).
Providing guidance on vision, scope, objectives, and investments, the committee ultimately approves budgets and manages key risks. The CDP program team reports to the committee on a monthly or quarterly basis, highlighting successes and learnings.
If you haven’t already, we suggest reading the first post of this two-part blog series: The CDP program lifecycle.
Elan Bair is a Principal Value Consultant at Sitecore. Follow him on LinkedIn