• A technology first, strategy later mentality leads to siloed technology procurement and misalignment
  • Steering committees help ensure that cross-functional business needs are represented in technology procurement
  • Don’t boil the ocean; scope audits to address targeted business needs

In my previous blog post Alignment: The Cure for Your Technology Hangover, I touted the benefits of alignment between sales, marketing and product with regard to an organization’s technology infrastructure. The first step in achieving technology alignment is ensuring aligned decisionmaking about technology. But how is this accomplished?

The formation of a steering committee and agreement on its goals and objectives set the stage for infrastructure alignment. Many organizations jump directly to auditing technology or roadmapping with little regard for how procurement decisions will actually be made. Another common problem that arises from a technology first, strategy later mentality is that technology selection decisions get made in a siloed manner with no consideration of the other functions, which further misaligns the infrastructure and overall business.

  • Roles. A steering committee acts as an overseer for technology procurement and vision. The vision has to align with and enable the execution of business goals and strategy at a high level. That said, membership has to be both diverse and knowledgeable in terms of strategy and technology. Who exactly comprises the steering committee depends on the individual organization, but it always needs executive buy-in or sponsorship, and membership should include representatives from sales, marketing and product. The steering committee should comprise individuals who, regardless of title, possess responsibility for, or have explicit knowledge of, technologies and systems targeted for alignment. In addition, committee members should have clout within the enterprise that enables them to get projects moving, and they should be in good standing with executive sponsors.
  • Actions. At the onset, the steering committee must create a charter that outlines the responsibilities of its members – e.g. who records the meeting notes, frequency of meetings and how technology decisions will be made. A major action will be to outline the scope of the impending technology audit, which is vital to making technology decisions and roadmapping. For example, the committee may decide that it initially needs a narrowly focused audit around only those technologies that are directly involved in the lead management process (a process that intimately links marketing and sales from a process, data and technology standpoint). Keep in mind that the committee can commission several targeted audits to address different business needs.
  • Key considerations. The steering committee should focus on activities, capabilities and processes that are most beneficial to alignment. These include lead management, messaging and personas, and the customer lifecycle, just to name a few – large, overarching processes or capabilities that cut across two or all of the aforementioned organizations. Benefiting alignment means scoping technology audits and aligning around technologies that exhibit a medium to high degree of criticality to business processes – i.e. if they were unplugged today, the business wouldn’t function – and are distributed across these groups. For additional tips on auditing, see Tips to Kick Your Tech Audit Off on the Right Foot.