How Marketing Acceleration Software Helps Streamline Key Procurement Bottlenecks
The explosion of marketing technology in the last few years is making it possible to create, source, execute and measure campaigns faster than ever before. This, in turn, is putting pressure on procurement professionals to deliver campaign materials faster, and at lower cost, without sacrificing quality.
As we discussed in our last post, there are a number of challenges that can slow time to market and introduce costs throughout the marketing supply chain. Can the same marketing technology that is putting pressure on managed service providers to move faster also help solve their challenges?
Let’s be clear: Technology is never a good replacement for skilled, strategic decision making. Companies outsource marketing procurement to the professionals because these individuals bring unique value to the table in terms of expertise, skill, relationships and industry experience. For example, automation isn’t going to help you choose the right supplier for a last-minute job because you happen to have a good relationship with that supplier, and you know the account manager will make it happen despite what the official contract says.
Technology works best when it is used to make a human’s job more efficient, effective and easier, or when it offers economies of scale that enable us to do things we simply could not do before. For example, spreadsheets give finance professionals a way to manipulate and analyze data that a simple calculator never could. The technology enables faster, better decision making.
In our survey of top marketing service providers, we identified the top bottlenecks that slow campaign time to market and increase costs. Here are some examples of how marketing acceleration software like Mtivity can help to streamline these processes, and reduce or eliminate bottlenecks:
- Creative development: Technology isn’t going to come up with that brilliant concept that’s going to wow your clients. However, it can help you capture and organize the myriad job and project activities, assets, approvals and financials in a digital online job bag. More robust tools let you can set privacy and access controls for different folders and files, create and send estimates to clients, and assign tasks to team members. Time management tools that record time and track actual costs against budgets and estimates are also helpful.
- Client reviews & approvals: Listed as the number one bottleneck in campaign development and delivery by the service providers we surveyed, the review and approval cycle remains a stubborn challenge for many service providers. With online collaboration tools, providers can now forego the multiple rounds of emails and hard copy proofs in favor of digital commenting and annotation tools. These tools ideally should work across multiple file types including print, web, interactive, email, video and more. Email alerts can let stakeholders know when it’s time to review a draft or proof, while tracking each piece of content in review, and each person in the review process.
- Sourcing and procurement: Over half of survey respondents marked this as a top concern. Fortunately, modern procurement software can now provide the benchmark data, automated calculations and cost data providers need to give clients confidence in their sourcing processes. Using this data, providers can accurately estimate project costs using a combination of historical data, client-specific benchmarks, procurement rate cards and other data sources. More sophisticated systems even distribute RFQs to multiple suppliers and deliver real time updates as suppliers submit their pricing. Amazon-style ratings and reviews can help users quickly identify and share the right vendor for their project. When the project is complete, the automated data trail that was created helps service providers track supplier performance, and demonstrate the savings achieved for each project delivered.
- Analytics and Reporting: Collecting, analyzing and reporting detailed performance metrics can be a time and labor-intensive task if performed manually. However, today’s digital reports and dashboards let you easily monitor the progress of your projects and provide instant visual access to operational and financial data. Managers can drill into details such as team performance, revenue trends, client deliverables and more. Some service providers are even creating client-facing dashboards aligned to service delivery targets and key performance indicators. When clients can access the dashboard at their own convenience, this frees the service provider to focus on delivering value rather than building reports.
These are just a few ways that marketing technology is helping to streamline procurement processes for our clients. Which areas of your campaign development and delivery do you think could benefit most from automation?