Managing marketing operations is now an essential core competency for large and midsize business enterprises. Today’s marketing environment is more complex than ever, and marketers remain under constant pressure to achieve more results with the same or fewer resources. After focusing initially on improving the effectiveness of individual campaigns and programs, marketing leaders are now turning their attention to increasing the efficiency and productivity of marketing operations.

Marketing operations can be defined as the activities and processes that are required to perform the marketing function and manage the marketing organization effectively and efficiently. The growing importance of marketing operations is evidenced by the fact that many companies now have marketing executives and managers who are dedicated to marketing operations management. Recent research by IDC revealed that the marketing operations role represents about 6% of the total marketing staff, and it is the fourth largest job “category” for a large marketing department.

One key to maximizing the productivity of marketing is to recognize that marketing operations is a business systemthat is composed of several complementary and interdependent activities and processes.

The diagram below depicts the major components of a marketing operations system in a large or midsize organization. I’ll discuss the individual components in a moment, but first a word about the diagram itself.

The Toyota Motor Corporation is known worldwide for the Toyota Production System, a set of principles and practices that many people now refer to as “lean manufacturing.” In the late 1960’s, Toyota was teaching its suppliers how to use the Toyota Production System, and the trainers needed a tool that would visually capture the core principles of the system. The result was a diagram that is now known around the world as the “TPS House.” The beauty of the TPS House diagram is that it shows the major components of the Toyota Production System and illustrates that all of the components are essential to optimizing manufacturing. Take away any component, and the “house” will fall. The same principle applies to a marketing operations system, and that’s why the diagram below is modeled after the TPS House.

As the above diagram shows, a marketing operations system is composed of four major components.

· Digital asset managementDigital marketing assets provide the fuel that powers marketing campaigns and programs. Therefore, managing the creation, distribution, and use of marketing assets is part of the “foundation”of a well-constructed marketing operations house.

· Business process managementMarketing is one of the last major business functions to fully leverage process management and automation. Today, however, workflow design, management, and automation are essential to optimize marketing operations. Business process management is part of the foundation of the house both because it’s essential and because it permeates all aspects of marketing operations.

· Marketing resource managementIn addition to the foundation, the marketing operations house contains two “pillars.” Marketing resource management encompasses inward-focused activities and processes such as planning and forecasting, budgeting, and data governance. Today, one of the most significant marketing resource management activities is the selection and implementation of appropriate marketing technology tools.

· Customer engagement managementThis pillar of the marketing operations house encompasses activities that influence or involve direct interaction with customers and potential customers. As the diagram shows, these activities will include analytics and predictive modeling and marketing program design and execution.

The house diagram illustrates that optimizing marketing operations requires a concerted effort across several activities and processes. Improving a single activity or process isn’t necessarily bad, but it may not have a significant impact on the overall system.

This same principle applies to the use of marketing technologies. A so-called point solution may improve a narrow set of activities, but the impact on the overall system may be minimal. To maximize productivity, marketers need an integrated suite of technology tools that collectively support all the major components of marketing operations.

Read more: