People, Process, THEN Technology: Approaching Change Management to Successfully Implement New Tech

We all know that implementing a new technology for your business starts and ends with practical change management strategy. As marketers, we know the drill… You buy a shiny new martech tool that you think will be the solution to your marketing success, but when you start the implementation process, unexpected issues arise.

Kyle Hufford is a seasoned Executive Digital Strategist and current Director of Digital Asset Management (DAM) at a leading beverage brand. In this episode, Kyle dives into the key to achieving true implementation and change management success, which all comes down to the people, process, and THEN the technology – in that order.  

Follow Kyle Hufford on LinkedIn.  


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1:38 – Implementing DAM and Overcoming Dirty Data  

Implementing a new piece of technology is difficult if your team isn’t on the same page. Assets are spread across every business, in files, drives, and other platforms. Starting with the people that work in your company and ensuring everyone is involved, and talking through all the assets that will be uploaded in the initial implementation can save you in the long run from importing dirty data and leaving behind valuable assets.   

“I would say the main challenge is definitely dirty data … And I think a lot of people don’t understand that when you have multiple tool sets or multiple applications or systems that utilize the same data, and you decide that, Oh, I’m just going to go and change it in a downstream system, well, now you’ve created this animal or monster because you have to feed it with more staffing and more individuals to keep the monster going instead of having it feed from a direct source.”  

4:12 – Ditching Dirty Data Leads to Saved Time and More Efficient Processes 

One of the benefits of focusing on the people, who will be using the new technology, first is that you spend far less time cleaning up dirty data in the long run. When you build a new framework around people and the processes you want to use going forward, daunting tasks that take weeks or even months to implement become more efficient and take far less time. Ultimately, you’re reverse engineering and learning WHY the current system isn’t working for your business in the first place. You’ll find that a solid foundation is the key to solving problems you don’t even know exist yet.   

“We tried to implement a digital asset management system, but the key success we had there was actually the building of our catalogs, so we automated the building of catalogs. I don’t know how much you’re familiar with apparel, but in the apparel industry, especially a surf brand, they have about 4000 SKUs every quarter. So that’s quite a few products with information that fit together. And so we automated building the catalogs by exporting the data directly from our ERP system and then pairing that with images from down in through InDesign.  

 So instead of us having to spend two weeks building the catalog, it was a click, then a couple of hours to put together. And then if data was bad, we said, OK, go fix it in the ERP and give us another export… So everything from wholesale pricing information about the product, like in apparel, it would be, what’s the mix of the material? Is it a cotton polyester? What’s the blend? What’s the information we store in our ERP to sell it? Finally, you have the item numbers and material numbers so that somebody in sales could actually go through. And the next step of that evolution that we took was to build digital PDFs so you could click through and order directly within the ERP system.” 

8:09 – Using the Same Processes Across Your Organization  

While you may have involved the entire team on your initial change management and implementation journey, the real challenge is ensuring you have organizational buy-in when it comes to using and maintaining the clean data that hopefully comes with a shiny new DAM. This is where it helps to pinpoint specific roles and processes that help keep your data clean.   

“The big challenge we’ve had is how do we start people utilizing the same application or system across the organization because we’re all trying to achieve the same goal? . . . A lot of organizations struggle with ‘where does it report?’ Does this report to the CMO? Does it report to the CIO? Is it a dual reporting role? Does it report to sales or sales ops? So, I think every organization, depending on what the culture is, how that’s figured out, comes down to what works best on those different pieces and how it works.   

And so the people, process, then technology component is a lot of times what we end up doing. When I first implemented the tool where I’m at today, it was about six years ago, I was working with an outside company, and we did something that was important. And many people don’t want to spend the time doing it. But we spent about three months with the graphic design and marketing teams and built out a process flow in Lucid Chart.” 

11:22 – Becoming the Tech Advocate to Ensure Success 

Suppose you want to implement new technology for your organization successfully. In that case, you need to become somewhat of a data therapist for all the different departments that will use this tech. Understanding their pain points is key to getting everyone onboard, because now they have some stake in the game.  

“How do we get work done today? Sort out what’s our ‘as is’ and then talk through all the pain points and all the pieces. And basically, what I learned is that to implement a DAM within a graphic design department, you need to become a very good therapist.  

You need to sit there, and you need to listen to the designers. You need to understand. You need to commiserate with them and tell them, ‘Oh yeah, you’re doing a great job,’ et cetera. Then you need to say, ‘Okay, cool; well, now can you change how you do this? Can you now adjust your workflow by this one or two steps where we got a lot of traction?’” 

12:39 – Bringing Everything Together with Technology 

The easiest component is the last, and that’s using the technology. If you take the time to involve all the people in your org and develop these processes together, implementation tends to be a breeze. People and processes are where most of the issues spring up. If only three people in an organization use a tool meant for multiple departments, it’s already doomed to fail.   

“I think a lot of challenges occur when marketers or people in marketing ops look at these pieces and just see a tool; they’re like, ‘oh, cool, shiny new tool.’  

The challenge is when all of the pieces come out, right? All of the dirty little details like, Oh, well, for this to work the way we showed you in the demo, you need to have this type of data ready, or for this type of report to happen, you need to have this piece ready. And so the big challenge I deal with today is people come and say, Oh, well, I’m going to use, I don’t know, Monday.com or, you know, Asana or whatnot. And those are not bad solutions, don’t get me wrong. But my point is that they don’t look at the processes in which they work today.” 

16:18 – Understanding the Core Issue of Change Management 

While everything can appear great on the surface, even one misstep in developing your process can end in a scenario that involves a lot of wasted time and effort for overall change management and implementation. Worst of all, if your coworkers don’t see immediate success with this new technology, you can greatly reduce the effectiveness of your implementation strategy over time.  

“So here’s where people, process, and technology come together in a really cool way. For example, on the request form, the person knows, OK, I’m requesting a post item and that post item is a stand-up, a wobbler, or whatever specific item. Or maybe it’s a video intro or whatnot. Well, I’m now foreseeing that person making the request when they choose those. Those are the better data values that are in my DAM. So let’s fast forward, OK? They put the request in. So one of the key things that we did with that request, instead of it now being a flat database, we also took and looked at what was happening within the graphics department. So as graphics would get to a certain point, they were like, OK, cool; we’ve got this.  

We’re working on it. So they go to the VP for approval, and the VP is like, ‘What is this? What’s this? Why are you building this?’ And so they say, ‘Well, you know, Joe over at sales requested it,’ and they’re like, ‘Well, what does Joe know about our marketing objectives?” 

Key Takeaways 

A tool can’t solve every problem a company has. It might be the best tool on the market, but there’s no overcoming a framework of people working cohesively. 

Articulate what you want to use the technology for, and then work with the business to collaborate on what this new solution should do for each department that plans to use it. Having an effective change management strategy in place, before bringing in the rest of your company is a great way to lay down the foundations of your overall marketing ops goals.

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