Is It Worth It? The Hidden Cost of New MarTech Tools

TLDR: Adopting a new tool has a range of logistical and financial consequences. MOPs and RevOps leaders should interrogate each potential addition to your tech stack by evaluating the ease of implementation, the experience of your team, the ease of integration with your current or planned tech stack, the potential financial costs beyond the purchase price, and how the tool responds to real business needs and strategic aims.

The motivation for adopting new tools: When new leaders join companies or people move internally to different teams, they take with them the technologies and practices they’re used to. New marketing leaders are often keen to implement tools they’ve had positive experiences with in the past and can be prone to thinking that having more tools makes it easier to surface ROI—more ways to analyze data, more ways to present it, more functions and features to optimize how you work.

The consequence of new tools: In practice, however, this isn’t quite the case. Adopting a new tool has a range of logistical and financial consequences for your business that require thoughtful planning to navigate.

What’s in this article for you? In this Tough Talks Made Easy, we’ll help you explain to your CMO or CRO the problems that can arise from adopting a new tool too soon. We’ll also outline the important things your organization needs to consider before deciding to adopt new technology.


New tool consequences

Marketing operations people are frequently asked to take ownership of managing new tools, and so they have first-hand experience of the reality that more tools = more responsibilities.

Adding a new tool to someone’s workload has productivity consequences for what that person can feasibly deliver, especially if they need training to effectively use the tool in question.

If the department leadership is looking at a new core piece of tech—a marketing automation platform, a CRM, a content management system—it’s likely to demand a revamp of your whole MOPs infrastructure.


“Before adopting a new tool, you need to understand
if it’s worth it and why.”


Without qualified talent on board, you might need to hire someone new to lead on that piece of tech — and the hiring process costs time and money. So before adopting a new tool, you need to understand if it’s worth it and why.

Poorly-conceived additions to your stack will leak revenue, for example:

👉 Wasted subscription fees for unused tools.
👉 Unforeseen disruptions to your team’s workflow and productivity through accommodating new processes.
👉 Suboptimal implementations or maintenance that cause damage downstream.
👉 Integrations that don’t work properly, corrupted data, bloated storage.


The questions to ask


If you have a robust tech stack

If your tech stack is already robust, your first step should be to evaluate what isn’t working.

Is a new piece of software the best way to address your needs? Encourage your CMO or CRO to explore the solutions existing in your company stack — you might already have the license to a tool that fulfills a similar purpose to a good standard, and you’ll avoid the redundant expense on an overlapping solution.

If leadership’s considering a tool that can change the essential infrastructure of your MOPs/RevOps function (a MAP, a CMS, a CRM), it’s crucial to know what strategic ambitions it supports.

➡️ Are you scaling down to cut costs or simply overhead?
➡️ Are you scaling up because your CMO/CRO has a growth plan and needs the particular capabilities of more advanced tools to achieve it?
➡️ Have they planned for the corresponding investment in the MOPs team (e.g. whether that’s greater headcount, higher training budgets, or a redistribution of role responsibilities) to facilitate a more complex platform?


If the new tool will play a supporting role in your stack

When evaluating a tool that plays more of a supporting role in your stack, you’ll want to assess how well it integrates with your existing infrastructure.

➡️ What depth of expertise will the tool require?
➡️ How long is the implementation period? Will it require more resources on a temporary or permanent basis?
➡️ Is it best-in-class at providing the functionalities you’re looking for?
➡️ Does it have good momentum in the marketplace?

Getting to the bottom of these points is essential to come up with a realistic assessment of a tool’s total cost of ownership.


Questions to ask beyond those above

➡️ Is the total cost of ownership (TCO) worth paying?
➡️ Do the capabilities of the tool respond to the goals your CMO/CRO wants to achieve?
➡️ Can you reasonably estimate that its features can drive revenue and productivity in ways that justify the time, money, and work?


“The impact of adopting a new tool
is often poorly understood.”


The impact of adopting a new tool is far-reaching and often poorly understood. Remember that strategy defines your outcomes and tools help you achieve them. Read our article Connect the Dots Between Strategy and Technology for more.

Your MOPs and RevOps leaders should interrogate each potential addition to your tech stack by evaluating the:

👉 ease of implementation
👉 experience of your team
👉 ease of integration with your current or planned tech stack
👉 potential financial costs beyond the purchase price, and
👉 tool’s ability to respond to real business needs and strategic aims.

Approach each tech decisions with this degree of intentionality, and you’ll maximize the ROI you gain from your stack.

Get in touch for more guidance on assessing and implementing new technologies.

4 Steps to Explain Technical Debt to Your CMO/Marketing VP

TLDR: Technical debt arises from rushed responses to problems created by poor planning. Think long-term about your projects, and you won’t have to choose between speed and execution. 

Technical debt describes the implied cost of making “quick fixes” to your tech stack or IT infrastructure.

Technical debt accumulates when the people building your software take suboptimal shortcuts to complete projects over more effective approaches that take longer. Doing so entrenches flaws into your tech that become more troublesome to fix as time goes on, leading to higher rework costs later.

In this Tough Talks Made Easy, you’ll learn to discuss the causes and consequences of technical debt with your CMO and suggest cultural changes to prevent it from building.


Why technical debt builds

During projects like platform migrations and implementations, a CMO and VP generally focus on contract negotiations.

Their efforts to get the best deal. This focus can, inadvertently, eat into the time needed for the technical work.

When projects start too late, those responsible for building the project will face pressure to make up for lost time and choose “quick fixes” to hit deadlines and achieve results.

While CMOs aim to make the most cost-effective decisions, they often account just for the purchase cost of a new application or platform.

For instance, your CMO may choose a marketing automation platform license cheaper than its competitors without considering the extra admin, consultation, and custom development necessary to make it work.

Add in the cost of training personnel and additional support, however, and you could well face a higher total cost of ownership. Especially if you don’t plan from the beginning to bring these resources on board, or if the project is already running behind schedule.

Short-sighted thinking leads to these negative outcomes:

  • compressed timelines
  • bloated costs and scope, and
  • increased project vulnerability due to mistakes and substandard workarounds.

These decisions compromise a project’s execution and encourage technical debt, making subsequent improvements more challenging to make.


Preventing technical debt

Influencing upwards is an impactful approach against technical debt.

Depending on the dynamics of your organization, a direct line to your CMO or Marketing VP might not be possible. In that case, look to your Operations Manager or Marketing Director as allies with the access and technical expertise to impart the urgency of starting on time.

While it’s impossible to identify every gap a solution has until it’s in-house, you can confidently speak to the consequences of a late start.

Here’s how to sell your boss on the respect the project deserves:

“If negotiations drag out and leave us behind schedule, it will impact our ability to deliver this project on time, on budget, and to the level of competency you want. X will happen if we don’t start as planned, and it’ll take Y additional costs to fix.”


Implementations and migrations

Implementations and migrations are demanding initiatives. The planning phase is crucial to map out all your anticipated costs and labor needs.

Your CMO/Marketing VP can’t expect key contributors to carry their full workload and give their all to an implementation or migration—people who are stretched take shortcuts, and that just leads to technical debt proliferating.

Freeing up key team members to commit and provide the necessary focus to the project gives them space to contribute to the best of their ability, without incurring rework costs.

For instance, sales and marketing leadership could reduce the quarterly targets of the sales reps involved, or lessen the day-to-day campaign execution responsibilities of contributors from marketing.


Create a change management team

The creation of a change management team is a particularly progressive solution to technical debt.

Technical debt arises from rushed responses to problems created by short-sighted planning.

Advocate for a dedicated team of people to support the project from conception, mapping out the ramifications of any change in:

  • costs
  • timelines
  • resource requirements, and
  • post-implementation training.

This increases the project’s resilience to disruption and lessens the risk of technical debt.


Long-term thinking

If projects are delayed at the early stages, you’ve ultimately got a choice between paying upfront or later on.

Do you use the most effective methods to build a new implementation or migration, accepting you’ll be up and running later than planned? Or do you take shortcuts to make your initial launch date, at risk of introducing flaws into the project that carry large rework costs and compromise how effectively it works?

Between the two, it’s not an even trade.

The cost of technical debt often outweighs the agility of completing a project as fast as possible.

Steps to avoid technical debt:

1. Reinforce the importance of making a plan and sticking to it with leadership.

2. Scope out your timelines, labor needs, and total cost of ownership upfront—when things need to progress to meet your deadline, the people you’ll need to be involved in the project, and its real financial cost.

3. Advocate for a change management team to reinforce the consequences of starting late or making changes, and to find solutions in a proactive, planned manner.

4. Take the demands of your project seriously, and you shouldn’t have to choose between speed and execution.

Need more guidance? Get in touch — we’re always here to help.


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