Marketing Operations is the fourth most sought-after marketing function today, beating demand generation, product marketing, account-based marketing and relationship marketing.

Although there is high demand for marketing positions, 44% of hiring managers report not being able to find qualified candidates.

These statistics—from McKinley Marketing Partners’ 2019 Marketing Hiring Trends Report—are probably not surprising to anyone who is a member of their organization’s MOPS team. The Marketing Operations team is one that is often stretched thin and pulled in multiple directions, in order to meet the demands from other units within their business. With high demand and a need for qualified candidates, how can your marketing operations team internally prepare to scale and support the organization?

When is the right time?

Finding the sweet spot when it comes to the timing of scaling your MOPS function is extremely important, and can be tricky to do. Do it too early and you’ll overspend your budget, leaving you with little or no funding when things really get busy. Do it too late and you’ll lose opportunities, leaving leads on the table. So how can you as a MOPS leader determine the exact right time to scale your technology, people and/or processes? What signals do you need to look for, and what steps do you take once you see them?

Signals to look for

One of the more obvious signals that your MOPS team is ready to scale is the workload of your existing team. If you feel like your team is operating in survival mode, and the addition of a single new task or project could sink the team, it is time to expand your internal team or look for outside assistance.

And those internal, data management, or other projects that keep getting put off because of urgent requests? If you begin to notice that those projects are stacking up on the back burner, that may be another sign that it is time to scale your MOPS department.

The important part is that you identify the fact that you need more “people power” before it is too late. If you scale too soon, you end up wasting resources if there isn’t enough work to keep the team busy. Once it becomes too late, it can be difficult to onboard new team members or external partners, meaning that you run the risk of people not adhering to established practices, off-brand marketing, and other missteps.

What steps can you take?

1. Have a plan

In order to scale at the right time, you need to have a plan and a key list of priorities. This will help you develop concrete processes that will serve as the foundation of your team, and allow you to onboard and scale successfully. And remember, there is some work that you won’t easily be able to hand off or find assistance with. Once you’ve identified key priorities, review the list and categorize the tasks into buckets (e.g. Operational, Execution, Managerial, etc). Don’t skip this critical step, as it plays an important role in the next step.

Create SLAs to help protect your team and establish reasonable expectations within your organization. You will also want to determine the timeframe by which you would like to have additional support in place.

2. Identify the roles that are missing

You know that your team is shorthanded, but you need to get clarity on the specific type of assistance you need. Do you need a more strategic person who can help to develop new programs and lend a hand from an operational standpoint? Do you need someone to help with campaign execution? Creative assistance?

In the first step, you grouped your team’s workload into different buckets. Now you must leverage those buckets to determine where help is needed immediately, and whether it makes sense to explore agency support. It is important to list out the skill sets that are needed, as you will want to make sure that your team will be properly supported. If possible, onboard members that have already demonstrated expertise with your marketing automation and CRM technologies, as this will allow new team members to ramp up faster and require a little less hand-holding.

And build in contingencies! Things like tradeshow season, vacations, employee turnover, and other situations can often leave the MOPS team caught shorthanded, so do what you can to plan ahead and mitigate these situations so you don’t find yourself caught in a critical position.

3. Define processes

Documentation and processes are extremely valuable assets when it comes to onboarding new hires or outside agencies. Some of the things you will want to have documented include:

  • Roles and responsibilities of various team members and departments you interact with frequently—and if you can add more detail around the types of requests that are typically received from those individuals, that’s even more helpful
  • Description of your martech stack and connections between systems
  • Rules and processes for project management tools, if applicable
  • SLAs
  • Project/campaign processes— capture your expectations from handoff to delivery

Having processes defined will help to avoid errors and ultimately set your entire team up for success.

Is your organization poised to scale or are there factors working against you? Is the timing right? Take Perkuto’s free scalability assessment to find out where you stand.