Documenting Your Instance Provides Life-Saving Continuity

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"…the contemporary prejudices that too much paperwork slows you down, clogs things up. But if you take an historical view, it's bureaucracy that sees you through the rocky patches and enables the state to survive. Bureaucracy is not evidence of inertia; it is life-saving continuity."A History of the World in 100 Objects, Episode 71

While we like to think of Marketing Automation as nimble, I often see practitioners racing to the next thing without documenting what they already have. The next thing that happens is that someone leaves the company, and the remaining employees – or the new ones who were hired to replace the departing employee – are left without any organized plan or history of what has been implemented in the Marketing Automation platform. This leaves the company, and the employees, at a distinct disadvantage.

The other circumstance I see is that documentation is being created – but only as a last deliverable before the employee leaves. In this case, because it's last minute and written by someone who is no longer invested in that particular Marketing Automation instance, it's easy for critical items to be forgotten.

Your best policy is to document as you go. Here are some areas you should make sure there is documentation around:

  • Governance – which roles in the MA platform exist, and who has responsibility for executing which items
  • Templates – which email and landing page templates are used for different brands? Which are old (in which case, document, but archive them)
  • Naming conventions – have a standard that is comprehensible without a dictionary of acronyms and make sure everyone uses it
  • Process – one of the hardest: what are the pieces needed to launch a program, for each type of program you run? Are approvals needed? From whom? How long does it take to get from idea to launch to results?
  • Marketing Calendar – whether you use a Marketing Automation feature or product or a whiteboard, make sure everyone knows what's coming next and what is planned

Once you have documentation, ensure that you update it regularly so that it is always current. If your processes change, your documentation needs to change with it.

While compiling your documentation might feel tedious, remember that you are preparing for those "rocky patches"– when someone goes on maternity leave or you have a new employee who needs to ramp quickly. And your bureaucracy will be what lets the state, or in this case your company, survive – and thrive – in the next generation.