Standing at the Precipice of Discontinuity
We’ve all been there before: you look forward and somehow you get a foreboding sense that something doesn’t feel right. Something’s got to give. You don’t know all the facts, you don’t have a fully thought out opinion, you just know that you’re standing at the precipice of discontinuity.
And this one’s on you: nobody’s going to tell you what to do, or what to think (although they’ll probably try to game you).
In the end, you’re the one that has to figure it out. You’ll need to carefully consider all the facts and figures, weigh the pros and the cons, and arrive at a carefully considered decision.
And the pressure builds, because you know you’ll need to back it up. You’re going to be asked to articulate, very clearly: why?
In our world of Enterprise Work Management (EWM), this moment happens fairly frequently over time. It’s the moment when you’re asked to decide: what platform should your organization standardize on going forward?
The Platform Decision Over Time
In fact, this moment even has a name out there in the halls of business schools: it’s formally known as the “build vs. buy” decision. However, in our world, there’s actually a third choice, which in fact comes up even more often than the other two: build vs. buy vs. switch.
So, what exactly is this build vs. buy vs. switch decision, and when does it typically happen?
In the Beginning…
If you look at it over time, most organizations begin their platform journey without an actual platform — but rather by improvising with what they’ve got.
This usually means spreadsheets and email, or repurposing some general purpose project management tool which they’ve tweaked for marketing purposes.
The First Time…
But sooner or later, the organization outgrows that approach, and realizes they need a proper marketing solution, in which case they face their first decision: should they build their own, or buy a platform specifically designed for marketing work management?
The Big One…
After that, more time passes, and organizations once again experience issues with the solution they built or bought, and face yet another point of decision, the big one: should they switch to something different?
But if you think about it, all of these decisions are actually quite similar: they’re about deciding whether to continue what you’re currently using, or switch to something else — the main difference being that the stakes tend to get higher over time.
The cumulative investment in financial terms, skills and entrenchment means higher levels of analysis and justification will be needed — especially because a switch often requires CMO and CFO-level approval.
The EWM Platform Decision Framework
So, for our purposes, let’s focus on the general case of switching from a current solution to something different, and let’s talk about how to approach that decision in a carefully considered manner that will make your CMO happy with your recommendation, and your CFO impressed with your analysis.
To do that, the question we need to answer is this: is our existing solution best-suited to address our EWM needs, challenges and aspirations in the near, medium and long-term — or should we switch?
To answer that, first we analyze the fit, where we consider our marketing organization’s needs within the context of the platform’s capabilities, and we identify alternate choices accordingly, to determine whether the platforms can deliver on our needs. Specifically, we investigate:
- Needs: what are our current and future state needs for Enterprise Work Management?
- Capabilities: what are the selection criteria to determine whether a platform is a good fit with respect to our needs?
- Alternatives: based on those criteria, what alternate platforms should we consider?
Second, we assess the viability of our current solution vs. a switch, where we take into account current user sentiment, along with future sustainability and plausibility of alternatives, to determine whether the platforms can resolve our current issues. Specifically, we evaluate:
- Sentiment: what are the currently perceived issues — and their causes?
- Sustainability: will the solution be embraced by users going forward?
- Plausibility: can our targeted destination & future state be achieved by switching?
Third — and crucial to winning the support of your CMO and CFO — we estimate the economic impact of a switch, and identify the key drivers of the impact, to determine whether the platforms make economic sense. Specifically, we evaluate:
- Economics: what are the financial implications of a switch?
- Drivers: what are the key levers that will drive positive impact?
We’ve hardly scratched the surface — so much goes into a carefully considered platform decision! Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. And, as a next step, we invite you to check out some of our other posts:
- Platform Decisions: When & How to Build a Case
- Platform Decisions: Evaluating Fit
- Platform Decisions: Assessing Viability
- Platform Decisions: Estimating Impact
- Platform Decisions: Testing Assumptions
- Platform Decisions: Differentiators & Productivity Levers
- Platform Decisions: Thoughts About Change
- Platform Decisions: Getting All The Juice