• When organizations go into cost-saving mode, marketing leaders often look to save on technology and service expenses to preserve staff and program budgets
  • At this point, operations staff must evaluate the entire stack to ensure that each tool still provides value and drives team productivity
  • SiriusDecisions has a proven approach to auditing the tech stack to identify what works, what can be removed, and what needs a little help to drive more value

During business disruptions and economic downturns, the mantra “We need to do more with less” comes into vogue. We heard that during the dot-com bust and the Great Recession, and we’re hearing it again in 2020.

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This time, the mantra comes after a decade of growing spend on marketing tools. As a percentage of the total marketing budget, martech spend has grown from negligible to 5%. You might say that’s not a big number, but there are two realities. First, every dollar spent on a tool that sits idle is money that can’t be used for programs or keeping staff on board. Second, every tool requires time for management and governance. If it’s not driving value, or worse, if it’s creating a process logjam, it’s time to get rid of it due to its drag on productivity.

SiriusDecisions has a simple multi-step process to help operations teams evaluate their current tech stack. Whether or not you are in cost-saving mode, it is a best practice to do this regularly — at least annually for budget purposes. You can get ahead on upcoming renewals, consolidate redundant systems, stay on top of the adoption issues, optimize the tools that are working, and lay the groundwork for future investments.

Determine the Scope

First and foremost, decide how broad your audit will be. Is it the complete marketing stack? Does it include sales tools as well because of overlapping usage? Or do you just need to focus on your readiness for a shift to digital programs?

Conduct Inventory

This step will bring the first epiphanies. For example, you may have multiple tools that do the same thing. We talk to clients who have not just two, but a dozen instances of similar tools. You may be paying for systems that no one is using. Several renewals may be up next month, and you may not be sure you need the tools. Gather the list of all systems, costs, renewal dates, and budget owners. If you haven’t done this already, consider making finance your next stop before you survey all your colleagues to develop the inventory.

Define the Audit Process

How will you assess what is and isn’t working? The best place to get this answer is by going straight to the source — users and stakeholders. You can conduct interviews or create an online survey to find out how the tools are being used. When you are ready to kick off this process, be clear about the goals and purpose of the audit. You’re not grabbing ownership, just trying to maximize the value of the stack and prevent cuts that will have adverse impacts.

Assess Each Tool

Using the information gathered in the previous step, begin your evaluation by focusing on two dimensions: the tool’s adoption and its functional fit. Is the team using the tool to support its work? Does the tool have any issues that, if corrected, will expand its value to the organization? In some cases, clients have a perfectly good tool, but adoption suffers because training, support, or another implementation task didn’t happen. Conversely, everyone may depend on a tool that has integration or data handling issues that could either be fixed or replaced with a better tool. On the positive side, identify tools that are critical to providing great customer experiences, capture meaningful insights, or accelerate demand creation.

Prioritize Actions

Socialize your findings and have the leadership team help make final decisions on where budget can be saved and where technology can be saved or extended to drive more productivity and value for the whole marketing team. 

My previous blog post “How a Technology Assessment Can Yield ROI and Savings: Kenna Security’s Story” is a great example of the ROI of a tech audit. At Kenna, they eliminated duplicate tools and let renewals on underutilized tools lapse, which freed up 52% of the tech budget. Some of the savings went toward marketing programs and some was returned as savings to the business. The remaining stack is driving more value since enhancements were made and support was improved.

For a deeper dive in conducting a technology assessment, clients can connect with the SiriusDecisions Marketing Operations Strategies team for access to tools and guidance on the audit process.