4 way to play nicer with IT

Marketing and IT executives are finding themselves increasingly stepping on each other's toes. We look at how you can get along better with the IT function of your company

But over time we were able to forge both a team and a game plan that worked. Sometimes out of necessity, the work of marketing and IT overlapped -- but the general division of labour was that marketing handled content and all communications coming through the website, and IT performed all of the website vendor management, security, application development and back-end application integration.

When it came to testing, marketing tested the user interface and general user functions, and IT performed all of the application processing and integration testing.

In general, we worked jointly on projects, developed an appreciation for each other's disciplines, and learned to compromise when we needed to -- an experience that IT managers say is common.

"There are adjustments to be made, so working together on strategy and operations helps," says Suarez. "We learned that marketing wanted things now. As IT, we had to accept that a newly added function may not fully work because it hasn't been thoroughly tested. Marketing would tell us that this is the world that Web users live in. People want instant gratification" -- meaning they will tolerate a website that is less than perfect if it can quickly get them what they want most of the time, she says.

That's a difficult lesson to learn for IT employees dedicated to detail, quality and stewardship.

"We were the ones who did most of the adjusting," admits Suarez. "It is hard to be an IT professional and accept that everything doesn't have to be perfect. Because of this, we also insist that we have an upfront agreement with marketing that tells them that website service levels in this environment will not be up six 9's."

Even so, she says, "there are still elements of interactive websites that have to work perfectly -- like taking customers' money or credit in exchange for merchandise or a plane ticket -- or enrolling a customer in a new service."

Primerica's Hatcher says the division of labour generally works fine, until "there are roadblocks when we want to get into the dynamics of website behaviour itself."

Marketing pros know how they want the website to work, but IT professionals, he concedes, are the ones who have the expertise to make it run -- or not. "At these moments, we make it a point to sit down with the software developers in IT to review the flow of the website and to work out a solution that can meet both marketing's and IT's needs."

It's a solution that Primerica CIO David Wade fully endorses. "Developing trust by understanding how everybody works and that no one is trying to 'take over' is important," he says. "The quality of your interaction matters above all else."

Former corporate IT and marketing executive Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia.

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