Marketing Ops’ Partnership with IT

I’ve worked in marketing ops for many years. As you know, it’s a more technical side of marketing and the scope varies from company to company often overlapping with Sales Ops and IT teams. Typically Marketing Ops is responsible for processes and systems used by the marketing teams. The lines of responsibility between teams are fairly easy to define with the sales operations but it’s murkier with IT.

In Business to Business (B2B), sales and marketing activities follow similar planning, execution, and hand-off processes from company to company. This makes it fairly easy to set a demarcation point and all processes up to this point (i.e. funnel stage) is marketing’s responsibility and all processes past this point are sales driven. The team still work together on rolling out new process/tech but the driver of the roll out changes. This relationship is fairly organic and easy to understand.

With IT it’s not as clear. As marketing ops teams take on more systems responsibilities this can become a friction point. Luckily I’ve had some really great IT partners in my career. Drawing from those experiences, we can work out a framework for operating and sharing responsibilities that leverage the strengths of each team’s skill, experience, and perspective.

IT as the name implies, has deep technical skills. Those skills are put to work in architecting, building and/or integrating solutions to serve the entire enterprise. They tend to take a wide view, looking at the company as a whole which helps ensure we are compliant with law and regulations as well as company policies. The IT team aims to minimize risk so we don’t have downtime and lost productivity or lapse in compliance. They also look for ways to reduce complexity and cost by simplifying systems and products used across all teams. Projects have a naturally longer cadence as there so many processes and systems to consider across the enterprise.

Marketing Ops team members also have technical skills but often not as broad as IT, often focusing on technologies in and adjacent to marketing processes. The superstars in Marketing Ops tend to be “unicorns” have a blend of practical marketing experience and tech-savviness that lets them make extrapolations of requests made but the broader marketing team for more complete requirements and produce a final product that is closer to what the requesters had in mind. Marketing is all about testing to see what works and what no longer works. The habits of how, what, where and how often people consume content changes, and if you aren’t keeping up with the competition you can quickly find yourself in obscurity. This dictates a need to evolve quickly and the pace has only increased with websites, social, and apps becoming the face and main interaction points with a company. Launch Ugly (because you can fix it in real-time). Fail fast… learn and fix it just as fast. This is the environment marketers compete.

Someone I have a lot of respect for summed it up like this:

Marketing is about learning from failure. IT is about avoiding failure.

It would be a mistake for these teams to work separately in silos. By working together and drawing from each other's strengths we become a stronger matrixed team.

There are a number of adjustments that can be made to this framework to fit the skills and experiences of your teams. Use this as a starting point for building a stronger matrixed team.
(Share in the comments modification you have seen work.)

Originally published at on March 1, 2021.

Seasoned marketing operations professional with a love for marketing automation and data science.

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