Connecting Your Marketing and Finance Speedways
The most exciting changes I’ve seen in companies that implement marketing operations software have taken place when they link the processes, data and analytics of two departments. You think I’m going to say Marketing and Sales, right? Nope—Marketing and Finance/Accounting.
Before the software install, these two departments are like separate high-speed highways twisting and turning different directions based on separate and sometimes very different objectives. After a marketing software install bridges to ERP software, the two become highly coordinated, and best of all they both become better aligned with corporate objectives.
Two important things happen. First, visibility improves for both departments. Marketing’s eyes are opened to the entire financial picture and how the campaigns they are running—as well as overall marketing objectives—impact and are impacted by company budget and goals. The finance/accounting department can see these impacts and provide educated and more-likely-accurate financial advice, helping marketing personnel make better strategic decisions.
One of the best things about this newfound decision-making visibility is that the data and analytics both departments can access now allows decisions in real-time. That means if a campaign is not producing the response needed to contribute to the overall corporate bottom line, adjustments can be made in mid-stream or a campaign that’s not working can even be stopped. This avoids wasting marketing money and makes it available to spend on things that are working.
The second thing that happens after installation of the software is that the entire budgeting and planning cycle becomes more efficient and accurate. Fundamentally, this happens because more information is available than it used to be. Marketing software gathers info automatically and it’s more complete, so it’s more trustworthy. Not only that, marketing and accounting departments used to have to sit down together, pore over several spreadsheets and do their best to connect and analyze the data. With marketing operations software connected to ERP software, it’s all done in one centralized location and much of the analysis is done automatically based on your setup.
The connecting and coordinating of these super-highways of activity and information also creates efficiencies in smaller ways. For example, marketing campaign managers used to have to send accounting a manual request for funds to launch a campaign, then sit back and wait until someone in accounting personally contacted the finance officer in charge of allocation approvals. I’ve personally been the one sitting at my desk twiddling my thumbs waiting for approval, only to find out my request was lost in someone’s inbox.
Marketing operations software not only provides a comprehensive view of the projections, past campaign numbers and current costs an approver needs to make a decision confidently, the system also uses your own business rules to determine who needs to approve, and then sends automatic requests for approval—even sends reminders! As long as you get the software set up right, you can be sure the request is not getting lost. Now, you just have to wait for the approver to get to your electronic request, but they are much less likely to ignore it when it’s official within the software and based on rules everyone agreed to.
Here are a few other advantages to linking marketing and ERP software to make both Marketing’s and Accounting’s or Finance’s jobs much easier, quicker and more efficient (which also saves money):
- Makes campaign spending and income tracking more consistent, which saves invoice research and processing time in Accounting
- Easily tracks funds allocated—but not yet spent on—campaigns, so they aren’t inadvertently used on less important expenditures
- Creates efficiencies, allowing you to do more without adding staff
- Improves ability to identify tactics unlikely to fit timing or budget needs
- Dashboard views help train new hires and give them the big picture, so they can more successfully make decisions and fit daily work to overall objectives
- Automated approvals provide documentation to meet compliance requirements
- Connects to marketing workflow software, allowing for insertion of budgeting and approval needs right into the consecutive workflow of each project, so they are less likely to be missed and they take less time to complete
- Provides a centralized calendar, so everyone can plan tasks and responsibilities based on most-current deadlines
Think of marketing operations software as a bridge from one interstate highway to another, so you can focus on either section of the road and more effectively coordinate your route to successful marketing and a profitable enterprise.
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