MOPs teams are expected to include members with a variety of backgrounds and skill sets to cover multiple responsibilities. Garrett Erny covers how to build teams with members who have different competencies, how to assess skill sets, building teams, and the best way to create realistic expectations with sprints and roadmaps.
Garrett Erny is the current founder and owner at Poppy’s Tech Aid, which focuses on marketing tech training and support. He is proficient in a variety of complex programs critical to completing operational marketing tasks like: SFDC, Pardot, Marketo, HubSpot, Mailchimp, Keap, Drift, 6sense, ZoomInfo, Demandbase, Folloze, Postal.io, Outreach.io, SalesLoft, Qualified.com, PFL, Sendoso and Microsoft Excel.
How can you build a team to include members with different competencies?
I've seen what I would say is a winning version of the formula. And I think I've seen the opposite of that, whether that be no action or just not recognizing that this area is exploding. It's not just the CRM and the marketing automation platform anymore. There's an old analogy: get the right people in the right seat on the right bus before you start driving it.
I like the Kanban board in terms of roles and responsibilities. The marking operations person is now crossing that threshold in the sales ops, doing a little bit of rev op and probably doing some data management that they shouldn't be doing. Then there are the executive level folks not really communicating down the line in terms of when they're thinking about making tech stack purchases. Without that communication you lose the ability to say to them that we could have accomplished our goals with what the tech stack we already have, but it's a little late now. So now you have to learn this tool you never heard of.
Determining roles and responsibilities starts at the top. To put the right people in the right place after that, somebody's gotta be the czar of tech. It may fall to a CTO type role, but there needs to be almost the VP of Marketing Operations or at least the Senior Director of Marketing operations. That person needs to be the one that dictates the whole tech stack. They would even name the CMS and anything related, like who's the owner for it, whether that's a team or a person. If it's a team, then name the person on the team. Within that, keep going and ask whether that person makes the most sense for ownership on the team. Make sure whoever owns that role is somebody that really should be doing it, not someone who feels like they’re doing leadership a favor because if they didn't take on this tool, everything they built in the past might fall down. You need to get that figured out and siloed, then put it on paper. As the Director of Marketing Ops or MarTech, you then tell that VP or C-suite level person that your breakdown of tech and ownership is what you really think is needed to succeed. Most of the time the C-suite level folks will agree. Maybe you won't get everything you need, but you'll be a lot more scaled than you were before you had this conversation.
Everybody has their role and responsibility, but when roles are not defined and agreed upon from leadership to those in the positions is where it gets messy, but sometimes things are just dropped in your lap. Sometimes you need to incorporate extra responsibility you might not otherwise have had.
Should you use an assessment to evaluate skills?
I’ve done plenty of assessments earlier in my career. If you’re going to do an assessment, it’s about gut feeling too. If you've found that person who blows you away, has the right resume, and the salary is in line with the expectations, that’s a no brainer. You do an assessment when you’re down to three people or four people and you’re still not sure. I would never give a long winded assessment. I might do five or maybe ten questions. They’re open-ended answers and I'm not really looking for essays. I'm looking for the right answer or clear and concise answers. I'm looking for where I'm going. Sometimes the assessment responses open my mind.
Sometimes you want to try to come up with a multiple choice format that allows me to see if they understand the technical perspective. It’s tough when you need to give them access to a tool or a demo version. The question becomes how do you take that and put it in a multiple choice format? It’s not easy, but it’s been done before in the sense that we've all been certified in something like HubSpot or Marketo. They manage to put it in the multiple choice questions.
I'm not pro or against the assessment. It has gotten more of a bad rap than it deserves. It helps to have something tangible to show if say, there’s a board of directors. But assessment is not by any means the deal breaker. It helps prevent you from going back to square one and having to go back to the recruiter to ask if I can get anything else on the candidate?
How do you design a team in Ops and to compliment Ops?
I think of it as the Kanban board. Everybody's got a role and responsibilities and from across the top, I would break down things like marketing operations, content as a team, and client services as a team. Note that I'm a big believer in everybody being on the client services team. Let’s keep that breakdown going: I need my own Web Dev. These teams don't need to be big, but I need somebody at the top of each team as the head of the department per se. I don't think there's an issue with the head of web dev doing some actual hands-on work or the head of MOPS doing some hands-on work. Sometimes it comes down to me as the head of a team can do it, record it, and teach something to my team.
In terms of CRM, I would have a Sales Ops team. Maybe I don’t need a Rev Ops team designated at this point, but I'm looking for a head of each department, that’s their specialty. And then under those folks, I would recommend they hire one person to have as a sort of lieutenant, if you will.
The head of each of these departments is responsible for everything from the templating and documentation, to knowing what's going on within the respective teams, to talking to the other heads of the departments to make sure that cross reference is flowing.
After the head of the department and the second in command, you're just looking for those junior people now and the skill sets.
You want someone that’s a good human, someone who’s honest and transparent. Someone who can own up to their mistakes and move on. Then look at if they are technical, are they good with content, what’s their educational and job background. Maybe they were in client services, but are good copywriters so let’s give them a shot there.
When you have these Kanban board type silos you can see the threshold where a project passes over from one area to another. There will always be an argument of whose responsibility something is, but if you have clear and concise documentation, chances are going to follow it. If you do not, especially on the agency side, people are just going to do what they want.
How can you create sprints and roadmaps with flexibility for the unexpected?
I always recommend a roadmap. You need to have good documentation with a timeline perspective. Everything isn’t always going to go to plan, but it’s good to have one as a guide. You have to have a relationship with the client where they understand that life's not perfect. Other things come up. From the agency perspective, they're not your only client. They should know that. Have that buffered in and build that good relationship even better based on realistic expectations.
The second piece of advice for estimating timelines is to give yourself extra time beyond the timeline you have in your head. I give myself an extra week or two because I feel like we always over promise and under deliver. I have a bad habit of saying yes to things because I can see it on their face that they want it so bad. They need it so bad. They need it so quickly. They needed it yesterday. I’ll tell them I can get it to them by the end of the day tomorrow when realistically they know and I know that our SLAs are a minimum of 48 hour turnaround. It’s hard to fight wanting to be agreeable when you want to be a good person and you can see it from a human perspective.
Once you put your roadmap together, make sure it's shared with everybody, especially key stakeholders. Put in like clear writing. It's not a set it and forget kind of thing. When serious delays do come up, don't sweat it. If you're a day or two off, that's different from being a week or two or even more off at that point. That’s when I usually do a small analysis, nothing crazy. I usually do it in a document, but the analysis could be over email of what happened and why we're delayed. Now we're saving time in the long run by doing what it takes to fix it now. It's really putting that in the strategic and long haul perspective of why something is delayed.
With as much time as we spend putting roadmaps together, I feel like clients and even internal folks sometimes don't spend enough time as they should looking at them. At the very least, it's something to go off of and keep yourself honest as the MOPs team leader or MOPs person in general.