Centralized Vs. Decentralized Marketing Operations?

As your company grows or changes, how do your marketing operations grow with you? What’s your approach?

Maybe you have an awesome marketing operations (MOps) team member, but they lack the specific skills to scale your company into new markets. Or maybe after a merger, you are wondering what the best strategy is for creating a cohesive MOps team. 

If you find yourself in a similar scenario, you’re likely thinking about how to structure your marketing operations department. Should your business create a centralized MOps team that can handle all marketing operations, requests, maintenance, and updates for your entire company? Or should you decentralize MOps, allowing individuals or teams to support the departments they know best? 

Centralized and Decentralized Marketing Operations Defined

Centralized – A single centralized team is responsible for company-wide MOps. 
Decentralized – Multiple decentralized teams provide MOps for individual business units or departments. 

A simple Google search will tell you that choosing a centralized or decentralized approach depends on the needs of your business. The decision will have wide-ranging consequences on the future of your business, including scaling, governance, training, cost, and job satisfaction. So, making the right decision for your team and company is essential.

How do you know which approach is right for your business? We’ve assembled a list of some of the pros and cons for each approach to help guide you through the process. 

Centralized Marketing Operations

Centralizing marketing operations means creating a single “Center of Excellence” (COE) team that can handle all marketing operations. Since marketing operations requires in-depth knowledge, the primary benefit of centralizing is having dedicated experts who can help manage time- and bandwidth-consuming projects. Below, we take a look at some of the pros and cons of building your own in-house COE team.

Pros

  • SCALING – Scaling is likely high on your list of goals, and installing a centralized MOps team will help you grow efficiently and quickly.  A COE approach facilitates collaboration across teams. Rather than finding information and assets in disparate departments, centralized MOps means access in one location throughout your entire organization, which makes scaling more efficient.
  • As you scale, it’s essential to maintain your brand. Consistent branding can increase revenue up to 33 percent. With a centralized team, it’s easier to maintain a high level of branding and identity as your company grows.
  • Bottom line: a centralized team is much easier to control and implement changes, no matter how large your company grows. 
  • GOVERNANCE – A Center of Excellence approach ensures campaign operations exist in a single marketing automation platform with a documented email data governance policy. Data, integration, controls, messaging, and design will all emerge from a single, comprehensive process, and the company will enjoy fewer compliance risks.
  • TRAINING – As we’ve stated before, MOps are complicated. Who does the training on your team, and what duties are each member trained on? With a centralized team led by experienced MOps professionals, training becomes much simpler. Team-building is quicker and more efficient. And it’s considerably easier to define a career path, which may boost employee morale and satisfaction.
  • JOB SATISFACTION – Growth opportunities are among the most important qualities in job satisfaction for at least 30 percent of employees (beating out salaries at 20 percent!). Building a centralized MOps team gives employees opportunities to learn and grow in their chosen career path, which may be a major factor in retaining employees over the long term.

Cons

  • SCALING – The downside of scaling with a centralized team may not be obvious. However, a centralized approach creates a single point of failure. In other words, if your MOps team breaks down, your whole business may suffer.
  • Bandwidth may also become an issue when scaling. A single team handling all your business’s marketing operations could cause a bottleneck if it becomes overwhelmed with duties.
  • COST – Perhaps the biggest detractor from building a COE is the cost. As you can imagine, MOps professionals require a lot of training and experience to do the job well — and that doesn’t come cheap!

In many cases, companies will invest in an experienced and highly skilled leader while training up internally for lower-level roles. This may save on costs, though the external recruitment costs and ramp-up periods may offset any savings from this approach.

Decentralized Marketing Operations

Unlike a centralized team, a decentralized strategy doesn’t require substantial investment in experts and training. Instead, teams throughout your business develop some of the skills required, and they’re supported by an operations manager or small operations team. Below are some of the pros and cons of a decentralized strategy. 

Pros 

  • SCALING – Scaling is often cheaper and easier with a decentralized team. Each department receives the training they need to implement marketing operations as necessary. Because the department already knows the subjects, this can often be a simple addition of a few duties that are dispersed throughout the business.
  • With this approach, scaling becomes a matter of team training; you can train once and develop skills over time. 
  • GOVERNANCE – In a decentralized approach, remote teams have the ability to be flexible and create campaigns that meet their department’s goals on an as-needed basis. Teams manage their own department’s contacts in the company’s marketing automation platform and are responsible for the lead funnel. 

Cons

  • JOB SATISFACTION – In a decentralized approach to MOps, smaller teams mean employees may have to assume multiple roles. Some employees can see the additional duties as a burden instead of an opportunity for growth. That might be dispiriting to employees who feel they’re learning complex systems, technology, and processes for little gain. 
  • GOVERNANCE – Though Martech software can alleviate some of the issues regarding governance, it is important to be careful and maintain an organized structure across decentralized teams. Permissions, documentation, access, and quality control will all rely heavily on individual departments. 
  • One of the biggest drawbacks of software governance is compliance. While a properly configured MAP and email data governance policy may help, the more people touching data, the higher risk for error.  

A Hybrid Approach to Marketing Operations

Choosing between a centralized and decentralized approach will depend on the needs of your business. But there’s a third option — one that can alleviate much of the cost while delivering in-depth expertise, insightful advice, and streamlined governance.

Crafting a hybrid team, in which MOps duties are split among an in-house team and an outsourced agency, gives you the best of both worlds. It keeps costs low while including specialists with high levels of training. And it may reduce the cost of recruitment and training.

Which approach is right for you? Only you know that. But no matter what you choose, Digital Pi is here to help. 

Don’t let the challenges of MOps drag your business down. If you’re unsure how to proceed, the answer is simple: drop us a line!

Your marketing technology experts.

At Digital Pi, we use technology to connect revenue to marketing efforts. We fuse marketing strategies, processes, data and applications to make marketing technology solutions work for clients' businesses.

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