CMO Problem #3: People Are Not a Process

CMO Problem #3: People Are Not a Process

Big Ideas

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October 23 2020
Big Ideas

You know what productivity sounds like... It’s that discrete hum of activity where you move from one activity to the next, tackling things on your to do list the way Jackie Chan fights 35 bad guys in a dark alley.

And at the same time, you know what a lack of productivity sounds like. No, it’s not the exaggerated sound effects when poor Jackie gets the odd punch.

CMO Problem #3: People Are Not a Process - boxers with audience

Let me remind you of what it sounds like:

“Hey Janzic… can you show me how to run that report?” 

“Myles, it’s Marty again, just a reminder, when you get this to please send me over that file.”

“Jaime, would you mind showing me how to create one of those quote cards you do for our Twitter?” 
“Yeah, we can get you that… Mike is the one that usually does that for us and he’s on vacation this week.” 

Be honest with yourself: How many of your business processes and systems are known only by one or two people, with zero documentation?

If those people aren’t around, or if they leave the company, you have to re-train someone from scratch and generally they end up re-inventing the wheel as they’re onboarded because of lack of clear direction.

I’ve been there myself. And here’s what I’ve learned. You’re relying on people as a process… and this is my CMO Problem #3.

CMO Dojo_Sherpa Marketing 

So, you realize you’ve got a department that depends too much on people. What do you do? 

The simple answer is PROCESS.

Process: a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a specific end-goal.

I know. You were hoping for a less boring solution. You were hoping for a magical revelation. Process can be a scary word for some people, but I will share from my own experience that once you commit to the process or creating processes,

  • it saves a ton of time,
  • it lets you instantly cross-train new staff in any activity
  • you’re never get stuck because one person took a day off

The magic revelation of a process is that you create transferable, institutional knowledge. And don’t doubt the power of that investment to save cost and generate revenue in your marketing department. If you need something done or you have a new employee, there’s a clear guide in place on exactly how you do it.

The starting question is, “What should you create processes for?” In my experience, any critical parts of your team’s workflow that are done on a regular or semi-regular basis should probably be documented.

  • Process for Monthly Reporting - where do you get the data from, how do you pull it, who has to review it, what you should look for, how is it presented?
  • Process for New Marketing Campaigns - what is your customer avatar, what are you looking for in terms of minimum ROI, how do you determine the budget, who has to approve it, which external partners can you use for creative or copy?
  • Process for Outsourcing Talent - who is on the ‘preferred partners list’, how much can you spend without approval, how do we brief our partners, what elements are part of the creative brief, what’s the process for approving invoices from them? 

Where do you keep the process documents?

Once you have identified the tasks that happen regularly enough to warrant a process, you need a place to answer the key questions and document the answers. There are dozens of ways to do this, but using the Google Suite makes this really fast, flexible, and dynamic. Let me share an example from my CMO Dojo.

1. You start with a Google Sheet which is going to be your index for all the process documents and reference documents that you create.

CMO 3 - index example

2. Next, as your team completes any “process-worthy” task, they create the process live (which means as they’re completing the task, they document each step that they take).  

I promise you two things. At least one person on your team is going to complain about it (if not all of them). But once they do capture a process once, they will get the rhythm of it and it won’t take a lot of extra time. Once they see how the time investment they (and their colleagues) are making makes it more convenient to get the answers they need quickly, you will see them buy-in.

3. Your team will link their process to the index for next time and let the team know that a new process document exists at your next team meeting.  

4. Whenever someone is completing that task, they should have the process document open to fill in any gaps, add to it, clean it up, and make sure that all the steps are still accurate.

Your team ends up with a finely tuned living document that will help drive a more consistent, high quality experience and outcome for everyone involved. 

Still not convinced in the investment? I’m going to help by sharing our Process Document Templates you can use to get started. Just click the link below to go to the template and grab a copy of it and start building your own processes; it saves you even more time because you are not starting from scratch.

Warning: Lone Ranger Alert

CMO Problem #3: People Are Not a Process - lone ranger Yeti

It's really important to instill this mindset in your team. If there is a “lone ranger” who doesn’t want to participate, don’t give them a pass. Make it part of your DNA, make it part of your KPIs, and reward the positive contributions during employee reviews. Train your staff to reference and link to bookmarks in these process docs rather than typing out explanations manually.

The shift will take a while to happen…people coming from a ‘shoot from the hip’ type of environment will take a while to adjust…  but don’t back down and you’ll get your team there.

If you want to build a department that can grow and continue to be effective at scale, getting systems like this in place is the only way to do it. And the longer you wait to get on board with it, the harder it’s going to be.

As I say in the CMO Dojo: wax off the excuses and wax on the positive – and some new processes!

Download the Process Document Template here. 



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