Successful Teams Require a Racy Ensemble

Anita Williams

Have you heard any of these exasperated cries of frustration?

I thought YOU were going to launch that email campaign! Our blog posts are always late! This case study needs to be finalized today, but the approver is out until next week! Support didn’t know we launched a new version of our product until they got the first customer call!

Given the breakneck pace of today’s marketing activities, these may seem like the normal and inevitable frustrations that every marketing team experiences as they race to meet the next deadline. In fact, in one recent survey of more than 200 marketers, only one quarter reported that they have a firm grip on the status of their projects, in addition, more than a third feel that work requests are not handled well.

But there’s a risk to normalizing missed deadlines, poor coordination, and miscommunication. Today’s marketers are facing big challenges. We are all working with increasingly complex marketing stacks, driving digital transformation, and delivering personalized experiences at scale. As a result, the projects we undertake are more sophisticated and interrelated than ever before. When we miss a single deadline, that can have a domino effect that disrupts or delays multiple campaigns or initiatives.

At the same time, many of us are becoming more accountable to metrics associated with ROI and revenue, and poor project management can erode our margins and our ability to prove our value. According to recent data from the Project Management Institute, nearly one-tenth of every project dollar (9.9%) is wasted due to poor project performance.

Project management may not be the sexiest topic in marketing, but it’s one of the most important, especially as marketers face a growing need to maximize efficiency while tackling ambitious goals.

Defining responsibilities is the key

There are many reasons that marketing projects go wrong and operational tasks don’t meet expectations. But a common theme is in not clearly defining responsibilities at the start of a new scope of work. We’re so excited to win a new client, kick off a new campaign, or launch a new product that we don’t always take the time to define who needs to take care of what.

Here’s where we get racy

A tool you might find useful as you’re starting to plan out a project is a responsibility assignment matrix. As the person responsible for the overall success of the work (whether your title is project manager or not), you should use this as part of your initial scoping to help determine the team involved in completing the work. Or if you are tasked with putting a project that’s gone off track back on track, this may help you diagnose the issues and how to fix them.

You may be familiar with the responsibility matrix technique, but it could be worth reviewing with your teams. A simple matrix that is an effective way to get started is a RACI (pronounced “racy”) which stands for:

  • Responsible

  • Accountable

  • Consulted

  • Informed

With this matrix, you list the work involved along the left column, roles across the top, and then enter the correct RACI component in each box (I’ve written them out below, but you’ll often just see the first letter).

To use the tool effectively, you need to understand what each of the components means.

  • Responsible – The person or team members who are actually doing the work.

  • Accountable – The buck stops here. The person who needs to make sure the work is taking place, must answer if it’s not, and gives final sign-off.

  • Consulted – The person or group of people that you need to ask for information. Subject matter experts fall into this category. This is two-way communication.

  • Informed – The person, or group, that needs to know the work is happening but doesn’t provide approval or have specific involvement in the work. 

RACI matrix for a email program launch campaign

So how could we fix those frustrating issues we just heard?

  • I thought YOU were going to launch that email campaign! Confirm who is responsible for scheduling that email to go out. (Fill in the question marks in the table above.)

  • Our blog posts are always late! Confirm who is accountable for the planning the schedule and have them consult with the writers to build a manageable schedule.

  • This case study needs to be finalized today and I just found out the approver is out until next week! Identify an approval stage for the asset (approval is an easy task to forget entirely until something’s ready to go out) and who is accountable for final approval.

  • Support didn’t know we launched a new version of our product until they got the first customer call! Determine all stakeholders that need to be informed prior to launch.

Overlaying the RACI matrix with a project schedule provides one more layer of visibility, enabling you to see who needs to be available for each week of the project:

RACI matrix for a email program launch campaign with project schedule

So if you feel like your teams haven’t been set up for success, maybe it will be as simple as getting RACI.

By defining the roles and responsibilities for every member of the team, you can significantly reduce the number of issues that erode the effectiveness, timeliness, and efficiency of your marketing efforts. A RACI matrix will help you hit those important deadlines, ensure proper input and consultation, and enhance coordination–all critical ingredients for a successful marketing project.

Any suggestions on how you’ve used a RACI matrix (or its many additions and alterations) to keep your team on track? I’d love to hear about them. Does your marketing team need to roll out a big marketing initiative next quarter or year? The Client Services team at DemandLab can help you plan and execute complex, technology-driven campaigns and projects.

About the Author

Anita Williams

Anita has nearly 20 years of martech, project, and IT management experience, including a decade of senior-level expertise, and holds a proven track record for building and guiding high-functioning teams in consulting and agency environments.

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