12 Ways to Ensure a Smooth Adobe Campaign Implementation

  • Posted: 30th November 2017
  • Written by:

    Sue Murray, SVP Operations

Adobe Campaign Implementation

In today’s business world, there is no shortage of studies and statistics that demonstrate that software implementation and IT projects are more than likely to fail. As a result, your time, resources and money are at stake. Despite the odds not being in favor of these types of projects, concrete ways to ensure your implementation is successful do exist.   It starts with active, realistic project sponsorship at the executive level and a rock-solid Project Management approach to lead the effort. If you can then add a number of effective tactics and techniques during the implementation, your organization can avoid being included in those failed statistics.

Based on our planning, managing and executing more than 50 Adobe Campaign Implementations and over 126 customizations and integrations, Celerity has comprised a set of 12 tactics to employ as you embark on your next implementation:

1. Ensure there is a clearly defined Project Team Organization Chart

Create a clearly defined Project Team Organization Chart with agreed upon roles and responsibilities between your organization and your implementation partner. Publishing and disseminating this chart creates a single source of truth and provides clarity for who owns what and when tasks are due. This is vital to ensure that each person understands their stake in the project, timelines are being met and there are no missteps throughout the project.

 2. Establish a Co-Project Management Structure (with a PM from the client & PM from the Implementation Partner)

A common approach for implementations is to let the implementation partner be the sole Project Manager (PM) on the project.  A more progressive strategy is to assign an internal PM to co-manage alongside the implementation partner.  This step is a key success factor for ensuring that your requirements are precisely met, your viewpoint is accurately represented and the timeline is successfully met without any unexpected costs or delays. This person’s role will be to work side-by-side with the implementation partner to ensure:

-Appropriate and timely access to the relevant software and systems

-Prompt decision-making and access to appropriate Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

-Accurate and thorough requirements gathering and scoping

-Management of internal workflows related to the project

-Internal accountability

<Read the blog: ‘5 Reasons a Co-Project Management Structure is Critical for Implementation Success’>

3. Document agreements around sign-off of project deliverables

Days and weeks can be lost on a project due to a client not signing off on activity deliverables. When a work plan is waterfall-based (versus agile-based), deliverables must be approved before the team can continue on to subsequent activities.  This means the project must have an agreed upon timeline/SLA for the internal project sponsors to sign-off on major deliverables that will be produced at least bi-weekly by the project team.

Deliverables (e.g., detailed workplan, campaign build book, each integration design, campaign designs, test plans, training plans) are examples of deliverables needing sign-off before the next step in the project can begin. Further work on the project can be, and is typically stopped, until those deliverables are thoroughly reviewed and signed-off on by the internal sponsors.  To keep a project timeline on track and keep momentum high, try to keep review and sign-off periods to 2-3 days at most.

In order to have a short 2-3 day turnaround on these deliverables, it will require your internal project team members to be actively involved in the project throughout the production of deliverables so that they are familiar with what they are being asked to sign-off on. If they aren’t actively part of the team, it will take them much longer to review deliverables due to misplaced focus or lack of prioritization.

Your internal project sponsorship will need to be on-board and comfortable with the sign-off of deliverables, and understand that any proposed changes/additions/edits to signed-off deliverables will increase the project timeline and project risk overall.

4. Obtain commitment from the full team to complete assigned tasks

One of the first major activities of the project will be for the co-PMs to run the Requirements Workshops.  This is the first and one of the most important steps in the project timeline as this is where the designs around how AC will be configured, the campaigns to be built, the interfaces to be connected and assumptions around plans (e.g., training, testing, go-live, support) will be confirmed. There will be assignments for your internal resources that come out of the workshops with specific dates to be met in order for subsequent activities of the project to run on time. It will be necessary for the internal co-PM to get these assignments distributed to the right people and to ensure dates are met.

5. Ensure there are internal IT Resources & IT participation throughout the project

While this project is a “purchased software implementation” with little coding (but heavy configuration), it will still need solid representation from your internal IT resources. If they are involved from the beginning and participating on the project, they will be able to successfully support the system during the project, at the go-live and at the post-go-live. This may be in the form of JavaScript programming, HTML coding, security access, performance tuning, database questions, table additions and integration set up.  Typically, these IT resources at a client can be in high demand or scarce, so scheduling them well in advance to participate in key project tasks and deliverable production is essential.

6. Campaign Definition: have your campaign content and creative finalized and ready in the right HTML format for the team to enter into AC

The campaigns to be built as part of the project will need to be fully defined and logically designed by your internal campaign management team prior to turning it over to the project team. This includes the proposed segmentation, scheduling, deliverability, etc.  In conjunction, the content/creatives will need to accompany the campaigns to be built.   The timelines inside of a typical work plan likely assume that this will be done/approved and handed over to the build team in near-perfect order.  What you want to avoid is a delayed hand-off to the campaign builders, costing them up to 3-5 weeks of building time while they wait for the content to get finalized and internally approved.

7. Prioritize the number of integrations for Phase 1 (move lower priority integrations to a phase 2)

A bulk of the work on an AC project lies in coding the integrations to the AC database.  You will want to take a hard look at which interfaces are critical to a Phase 1 go-live.   Each integration will require design, construction, potential database modifications, potential AC database modifications, mapping to campaigns, testing, documentation, training and ongoing maintenance. All of that requires time for the project team to learn, complete and – for your internal resources – to absorb into their ongoing operations. In addition, every new interface naturally introduces an element of risk that the co-PMs will need to manage.  For these reasons, we would strongly suggest prioritizing the integrations that will create the most ROI for the campaigns scoped for the project and also the integrations that will be easily adopted by your organization to manage on an ongoing basis.

8. Put your best internal resources on UAT to test the campaign designs

There are user acceptance testing tasks within the project that are only best completed by your internal resources and end-users. These users are the best equipped to develop test cases around the newly built campaigns as they will be expecting specific counts and content in a certain way. They will then need to dedicate time during the project to run these tests and sign-off on the results. Leaving testing solely to an implementation partner is risky because they will have to make assumptions on the business needs, a gamble which result in duplicative work and delays in launch.

9. Adhere closely to the IP Warm-up schedule

If there is an IP Warm-up component to the project, then there are going to be joint activities between the project team and Adobe Deliverability Services with dates on the project timeline that will be on the critical path. If there are any delays in completing the IP Warm-up tasks on the client’s side, there will likely be corresponding days/weeks unnecessarily added to the project timeline.

<More about Deliverability Best Practices>

10. Clarify how migrations & cut-overs from Dev to UAT to PROD instances will be done

Typically, the implementation project team is working in a DEV instance of Adobe Campaign. There may also be a need for a UAT testing instance in addition to the final PROD (production) instance. If there is a need to migrate any work done by the project team across instances, be sure to clarify how this will be done and who is responsible.  You will want these done quickly and then turned over to the project team to test.  This can be an area where time is lost on a project, so clarity around this responsibility is critical for the project team.

11. Set up a train-the-trainer structure for roll-out to the end-users

There are typically three types of resources that need to be trained on how to use AC once you go live. This can include:

-Campaign designers and builders

-Database & integration support resources

-Technical admins to support AC

The implementation partner will help you identify the content that these resources will need to know to run and operate AC. A good long-term adoption technique to employ is to identify an internal resource at your organization to conduct training and serve as a point of contact for AC questions.  Before going live, this resource can prepare training guides, schedule the training and conduct the training to the end-users.  Now you will have an internal AC trainer after the implementation partner leaves that you can rely on as AC updates and additions will continue well after the initial implementation is over.

12. Ensure you have a formalized Post-Implementation support process

A go-live support plan will need to be designed and agreed upon a few weeks before your cut-over to production. The implementation co-PM can work with you to build this plan, incorporating best practices that have worked well in the past. This go-live plan will typically include steps your resources will need to take if any issues arise and who is to be notified.  Sometimes, building and communicating this support plan gets lost in the rush of going live. but it’s important to have a formal support plan (particularly in the first few weeks of going live) so that people adopt AC and don’t give up if they don’t know where to go for answers.

These tactics, especially if employed by a positive, energetic co-PM leadership team, can help your implementation stay on track and on budget. They will help you manage obstacles, break through bottlenecks and address human factors so you can get ahead of them and make your project a success.

For more information on Celerity’s implementation approach, reference our proprietary ENABLE methodology.

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