Ops Cast

Lessons Learned Hiring Marketing Ops Agencies with Jessica Kao

March 04, 2024 Michael Hartmann and Jessica Kao Season 1 Episode 107
Ops Cast
Lessons Learned Hiring Marketing Ops Agencies with Jessica Kao
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In today's episode, we embark on a journey to explore the intricate world of hiring contractors and agencies in the marketing revenue ops space. Inspired by a thought-provoking LinkedIn post, this discussion dives into the nuances and strategic decisions facing leaders today. Our special guest, Jessica Kao, Senior Director of MarTech at CloudFlare, shares her exceptional transition from cancer biology to marketing analytics, highlighting the unexpected parallels between predictive cancer modeling and forecasting marketing outcomes. Jessica's story is not just about career transformation; it's a testament to the power of data storytelling across diverse fields.

Join us as our host Michael and Jessica unravel the complexities of assembling a powerhouse Marketing Ops team, touching on the critical choices between full-time employees, contractors, and agencies, and the strategic use of offshore resources. With over a decade of experience, Jessica lends her insights into crafting a team that not only builds but thrives in the sophisticated landscape of marketing infrastructures.

Furthermore, the episode delves into the art of partnership and resource management, offering a candid look at evaluating agency relationships and mitigating risks. From navigating RFP processes to understanding the essence of successful collaborations, learn how to discern the right agency fit and manage project capacities like a pro. Jessica rounds off the discussion with an invitation to connect further and a teaser of her upcoming talk at the Adobe Summit, promising to demystify the jargon clouding executive conversations.

Tune in to this episode for a treasure trove of insights that will sharpen your Marketing Ops acumen, presented in our signature friendly, clear, and concise manner. Whether you're just starting in marketing operations or leading a team at an enterprise level, this conversation is filled with valuable takeaways to help you navigate the hiring landscape and optimize your Marketing Ops squad.

Check out the LinkedIn post here: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/mikedrizzo_marketingops-revops-marketingoperations-activity-7140490673287233537-ktv_/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop

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Speaker 1:

Hello everyone, welcome to another episode of Opscast brought to you by marketingopscom, powered by the MoProse. I'm your host, michael Hartman, flying solo today. Naomi and Mike will be back soon. I'm sure Today's topic was inspired by a LinkedIn post from a couple of months ago that, I think, was Mike who actually posted it. So we're recording this in late February 2024, so it was right before the new year and it's all about hiring contractors and agencies in marketing revenue ops. So I will make sure that we share the link in the post or posted in the show description so that you can reference that. Hopefully, linkedin will maintain that, although I've seen mixed results from that. So, joining us for the conversation, joining me for the conversation today is Jessica Cow. She is currently the Senior Director of Marketing Operations in MarTech at Cloudflare. Prior to her current role, she has held a number of roles both in-house and in marketing operations, marketing technology, general marketing and demand gen. She also has experience as a consultant at DigitalPie. She is a marketing operations analyst and analytics thought leader with 10 plus years of experience inspiring a nation of marketers through authenticity, including at Mops Plyza 2023, hopefully 2024, and Summer Camp 2022, which was a highlight for me. I know that, and I saw at least one over capacity session at Marquette Osommer maybe in Adobe Summit by that time. So, jessica, thanks for joining us.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so all right, so we are lucky to have you here. Let me you know one of the things that I keep running into is people have these random backgrounds who end up in marketing apps, and I know that you I think we've even talked about this before, but you actually studied biology and I didn't know this music in college, and you have a PhD in cancer biology. So how did you transition from that kind of educational background into marketing and marketing operations, and is there anything from that educational experience that you actually apply in your job today?

Speaker 2:

Oh, my God, all day, every day, and I get asked that a lot Like people are like oh, they always have to be like, oh, let me ask this question. So it's always, it's always fun, it's always super fun.

Speaker 1:

But, yes, I have a am I just repeating the same question that everybody else asked you?

Speaker 2:

No, oh yeah, but it's always fun. It's always super fun because people are like, how did you get from so far away? And it's actually directly in, 100% relevant. And then when I tell them, they're like, oh, I finally get it. It's actually the same thing. So I love telling that story because all of us in marketing operations somehow stumbled our way into marketing operations and, you know, we just all like to be together because we love data, right, and we love to nerd out about technology and data, and so that's exactly what my degree is in. So I my background is my PhD is in cancer biology. I spent probably 15 years of my life in a lab doing research, looking at cancer cells in a Petri dish, and so, for those of you that know who I am or know me in real life, I'm a people person. So that being stuck in a lab and scraping cells off a Petri dish was really not my idea of fun, but got me to where I am today. My, my, actually my my dissertation and thesis is actually in predictive modeling, so probably something that right, right, there you go, there you go yeah, yes, yeah, our audience can see this.

Speaker 1:

I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm nodding my head vigorously here.

Speaker 2:

So, yes, Right, the light bulb just went on, yeah, so. So my thesis and my papers are, and my published papers are on predictive signatures of breast cancer.

Speaker 1:

So think about it.

Speaker 2:

What does? What does that mean? That means looking at patients with different, varying aggressiveness of breast cancer from, you know, less aggressive to more aggressive, and looking at all of the tens of thousands at the time tens of thousands, and now millions, millions right, data signals to understand a signature. Right, building a predictive model, yeah, to understand, right, you have your test set and then you have your no, what? You have your like model set, your modeling set up to build the model. And then you have a test set to like to test, like, okay, can I predict if this one was going to be more aggressive or not, because a lot of today's oncology is still a lot of trial and error medicine, right, so, building the data, predictive data model, so, to predict, like, hey, if this, if this, if your signature is going to look more aggressive, let's start with a more aggressive treatment, instead of trying a bunch of treatments and then failing and then losing that precious time and then trying different, different things. And so, with my, with my degree, or in my degree, in my time as a, as a research scientist, basically I would do the you know, here's a predictive model. And then, and then with all of the signals, trying to tell a story and stitch. Well, what could we tell story-wise? Why? are we seeing this pattern of signals and trying to piece together that story. So, if you think about it, it's exactly the same as what we do today, right, if you replace patients on one axis with their you know, dna, rna, protein signals, patterns, you replace it with prospects and customers on one axis and all of the data points and signals and intent data and this and behavioral data, demographic and et cetera, et cetera. It's exactly the same thing, because then you have this predictive model, right? And then as a marketer, you're trying to tell the story. Why are these people like, like, finding more people that look like customers or that will be customers, predicting who a prospect will more likely to become a customer, and telling the story of what data points, right, that they like hit the demo button, they download the Gartner report and then they do this, this and this, and those are the people telling and stitching that story.

Speaker 1:

And so now you understand why they're like highly correlated to the next step, right? Yeah, so it's interesting, as you're saying, that it's just occurring to me and maybe this has been the back of my mind that my degree also is not in anything related to marketing. It was in. Well, the graduate program would be called Operations Research, which is sort of like industrial engineering, and people do it, do things like work for shipping companies to optimize some variable for their shipping. So whether it's fuel consumption or time for the route, stuff like that, or edge case or interesting case that came up recently in the last few years is helping the NBA schedule all their games. There's lots of constraints and requirements. So I think it's a similar thing. And I started my step into marketing was working alongside what today would be called data scientists doing predictive modeling, right, in this case it was a B2C thing and it was predicting churn, predicting likelihood to become a customer, all those same things you were describing, and so, yeah, I can appreciate that and I guess I keep thinking of these things like science-based degrees as you get up higher and you go further. In those it's a lot of data analysis which makes. So that makes total sense to me, right? So I get that. That's fascinating. I don't think we've actually talked about that before. So this is like I knew that there's the biology component, but I didn't don't think I've heard the full story. So thanks for you know. Just letting me go through that. All right, so let's get started. So I don't remember all the details of the post that we in LinkedIn it started this, but you know, one of the things I think about when we're talking about hiring external resources for marketing ops or revenue ops, and I think of different scenarios that we that may be everything from sort of individual contributor type contractors to full project teams, right, oh, and there's probably a number of things in between. Yeah, how, how do you like, do you think of those as different kinds of scenarios? And how do you, how do you decide what is more appropriate in terms of the mix of those external resources or should you bring it versus internal resources in those different scenarios?

Speaker 2:

No, absolutely, and this is a topic that I'm super passionate about, which is why we're probably why we're here today.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think for our listeners, you and I probably could have just recorded our prep call and it would have been just as good.

Speaker 2:

And basically having been on both sides multiple times, right, so I and it's almost like you know, I have this lucid chart decision diagram in my head of like best practices of when to bring in what and what kind of what kind, when to use a hybrid, when to hire what, when do you hire an individual contractor, when do you hire an agency, and all the different permutations, and there's no one right answer. And I also feel like a lot and I've learned a lot in the in the 14 years that I've been in marketing operations and demand gen, having been on both sides. So I've been on both. I've been on both sides. But on top of that I've been at a you know startup, you know 200 to 500 person company. I've been right in-house on that side. I've been at the enterprise side, so like both startups and enterprise and the in-house side. And then you take the flip, which is I've been on the consulting side at an agency for both startups and for enterprise companies. So basically, if you do a two by two box, I've been in all every box that you can think of. And then I've also owned right, like more than just marketing operations consoles. Also, I have owned a PMO organization and then have owned, have hired consultants to do, you know, project management, things like that. But that's not what we're really talking about today, Right? So I kind of want to go through maybe that four box. Is it four box, like the two?

Speaker 1:

by two. Well, I mean, I have even in marketing ops, brought in individual project managers for large scale things where I just needed additional horsepower there because I could do it, but I didn't have the time.

Speaker 2:

Exactly.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Exactly. We could go, we could. We could talk for hours about this. Yes, I agree, yes, and also. And then there's the added aspect of like okay, so if you're, if you're, if you're looking to hire, agency versus hybrid, like, when do you do FTE, when do you do not? And then I've also done offshore teams, right. So I've had India teams, I've had Eastern European teams, right. So then there's the, then there's the in house, but then it becomes even a I don't know a four dimensional thing, right, which is then you have in house is it US, based on shore versus offshore and maybe thrown near shore there.

Speaker 1:

Yep.

Speaker 2:

And then the and then the other part is okay. If you hire agency, is that low cost? You know offshore versus onshore, right? So you've got that dimension. And then, when you're looking at building out your team, whether you're a, whether you're a startup versus a mid market versus enterprise, what is the mix of full time versus agency, right? So, like, if you think about all those permutations, I've experienced basically every single one of those permutations and have thoughts and opinions on all of those permutations. Yes, so you know there's. We can start in so many different places. Yeah, I think I think like you, I've had yeah, where do you want to?

Speaker 1:

start, right? I? Well, maybe maybe the biggest one, if I was to guess most people who are maybe new in in leading a team, is getting to the question of when do I make, how do I, how do I make a decision about hiring a full time person versus bringing in, whether it's an agency or individual consultant? Right, yeah, I don't think it matters that much, but I think I think that scenario is probably especially right now where people are, you know, kind of limited on what they can do with with FTEs. Yeah, yeah, that's probably the most likely scenario people are going to be going through. So and I I could add to my experience once you get, kind of go through it and see where, see where you let we land.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, Okay. So you know, having led a lot of marketing operations, organizations right, you're leading the function, and what's really interesting is that whether you're a small startup or a large enterprise company, the problems are exactly the same. Right, you still have right 100% agree. And so you still deal with the exact same number of problems. The scale of the problems are different, but the number of problems are pretty much the same. So, if you think about it, right, but the resourcing that you have is going to be different when you're a smaller company SMB, mid-market company Right, and so what a lot of people you know. You know when you're leading, when you're leading a marketing ops organization and you're a smaller company, it's you're leading it, you've got your rolling up your sleeves, you're doing it, and maybe you have one to maybe, and then you never have enough people to do it. Now, my biggest thing, especially for folks, right, I mean, most people aren't going to have like, hey, I also have a consulting background and have been more kettle consultants for a really long time, which is what people where I see people fall down, but like where, where they really need to realize is it is a completely different thing to build a Ferrari versus driving the Ferrari. So a lot of times where I see a lot of mistakes happen is that, hey, I'm a leader of a marketing ops team, I'm going to hire my first FTE, I'm going to go hire someone that's pretty junior and that's got gusto and like they can go figure it out. Let me tell you, figuring out how to drive the Ferrari and figuring out how to build a Ferrari are two totally different things. So if you think someone is going to like set up your instance in a best practice so you can scale, or set up a best practice so you can like, you know, I mean that's a much scale, but like a function very efficiently.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

So is a is a recipe for, let's just be honest, it's a recipe for disaster, because that is an unattainable goal, right, and so that is where, if you are, if your system is not in best practices, if it's not like set up with a solid foundation, the first thing you should go do is ask for help because you need that, and that's the consultant, right, who have done it five, 10, 15, 20, 30 times. You are never going to be able to hire an FTE that has done that, unless they're an ex consultant, and we'll talk about, like when you hire ex consultants, because that's another permutation of that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 2:

And so you have to like and this is where we can do another podcast about how champion the value of getting the budget and funding for hiring. You know external help to go build the race car. Now there's two types of people that you can go get and there's pros and cons of each right. So a lot of times If you're, if you're a startup, there's not a lot of funds. You're going to be scrappy picking an individual consultant, but picking the right individual consultant and I want to put an air quotes that you can't see the right individual consultant because they're going to be at a lower cost, they're going to not carry the overhead of like project management hours that you're going to have to pay for right, because if you're hiring individual consultant, they're just billing like straight time of like this is my time and you know it's probably good enough for what you need, but you got to remember how to pick the right one and that's a whole other conversation. That's like the third podcast that will do right, right, and then there's like going towards an agency, an agency Right, like so if your individual consultant goes on vacation, they go on vacation and that's it. There's no backup. Right that's you know. However, if you hire an agency, there are people that are backups, there are like what if it doesn't work out? You know you can have this say to be like hey, I want a different person. So the flip side to that is the, the, the, the, the hour, the hourly rate is typically going to be higher. Yes, and then they're also for agency. They typically throw a project management person and account person. So like you don't necessarily know who you're going to be working on, your account person that is going to be a main point of contact. That's like the lead person is most likely, depending on the size of the agency, right is going to farm that out to like some lower cost person and that isn't you know. That's going to be like more junior, so you don't necessarily know all the hands that are going to be in your instance. So that's you know. Those are the pros and cons. Is really good to be you know from a budget constraint perspective, but those you have to know those going in. And also you have to be proactively managing your agency or your contractor. And as long as you know how to do that, you're going to be able to get a lot of things out of that. But you have to be proactive about how you manage them. So you have to be a decision tree between individual contractor, your startup. If you find the right go for the referrals come to the community will give you referrals for like what's a good individual contractor agency is going to be more expensive, that's going to be a little bit more stable. But I've hired both and I've had good and bad for both, so you know totally agree.

Speaker 1:

What kind of deal when you're like budget constrained the one thing that you haven't touched on that I think I would add to this is, in my experience in mind most of mine has been especially in house, has been at larger organizations, and I think one of the things if you have, if you have control over your budget, your you have more flexibility over your budget for external resources that are full time employees, because there's not all the liability and it can overhead cost that goes with a full time employee. So sometimes it's easier to get into the business case, I think, to do that, especially if it's a relatively well defined scope. At the same time, I think this is where you really have to. You have to put yourself in the shoes of okay, if I'm, if this is something that is six months, is it really something to do or is it something that's 1218 point like, if it's a longer term thing, and I think you need to be thinking about how do I fit that into my budget as a full time employee component and at different size and stage of companies. What I found is that the the level of just big blunt, like the bureaucracy and BS you have to go through to go from a contractor, which is a different kind of cost, that's that's tracked by the company versus a headcount. Yeah, it's a really hard thing to swap. You usually can't just move money over to head. They're two different.

Speaker 2:

They're two different buckets. Yeah, you have to think about those two different buckets, and so I really you know what, like, what we just talked about was really kind of the hey, you're starting out, your budget constrained, right? That's the scenario. So let's let's actually like flip to the enterprise, because enterprise is a totally different thing. So my last two, my last two, my current role, my last role, enterprise, and then when I was a consultant, I was basically doing like really on as a consultant from the enterprise company. So that's a totally different ballgame. So let's talk about that. And enterprise company, always, always, always. I believe a hundred percent in the hybrid model. Why? Because with enterprise, the problems are same. Number of problems with the problems are bigger, more complicated. Yes, you know, you might have a lot of people on the team, but again, building the Ferrari and driving the Ferrari, like I, my team spends more time at an enterprise company driving the Ferrari, and Because the Ferrari is a lot bigger and it's a lot more complex and we have a lot more stakeholders and we're spent a lot of time in meetings. Yes that you know, at a smaller company I could probably, like you know, be also the mechanic for the Ferrari at a larger company. You have to have to have to outsource that and it's more in. It's not always a more impactful, but it's more critical that you have a mechanic right or the builder. You have to build the Ferrari in the best way. But you also have to tune. You have to do two numbs right every single day, and so an enterprise company I have always 100% Make the case you need to do it for Hybrid, and so from there there's two. There's two categories of people that you need for hybrid, which is you need the. You do need the mechanics and the architects. So I always keep a you need the mechanics, you need the architects, you need them tuning up your system every day and you need them laying a foundation every day, because enterprise, they accumulate. There's all kinds of dead bodies In there and they accumulate dead bodies at a very fast rate. So if you're not on top of it, you know Someone's they constantly like the buildup of cobwebs is a lot. Second thing is at an enterprise level, you also want to have um outsourced like hands-on keyboard right, low cost hands-on keyboard builders from enterprise because of the sheer volume, right. So you're at an enterprise and so I mean there, typically it is a centralized model, so you have a lot of stakeholders that put in a lot of requests and then there's there's no. Not that there's no, it's like it's very challenging to keep up with the building, the campaign operations piece um at a large company with the sheer volume, and so that's where you need two aspects of that hybrid hybrid area. And even though, even if you have the luxury of having people that can build the Ferrari at an enterprise, you don't have time, and that's where, again, hybrid role for both the strategic and then also the like, the driving of the Ferrari, like you just can't but the there's too many for a race to go drive and you have to have some fte's and some some, you know, some amount of like, uh, agency done, and I've seen the majority of enterprises always, always, not, you know, basically close to always have, you know, the, the offshore, near shore, basically agency, not fte, do the build, because you will always, you always think burst capacity right. That's the other thing with enterprise the fluctuations, the yes and what you need is so the amplitude of the burst, which no one can see on this video. As I'm like amplitude like up and down the waves Will fall, will, you will have moments of like. You cannot handle that from an fte perspective. So you need to be able to have burst capacity and you also, in the complexity of the projects, are like, usually you need that, like very specialized expertise, right, like so think about it If you were building a house, you don't need a full-time architect or a full-time plumber or a full and you're going to remodel a house, you don't need a full-time architect, plumber, tiling guy, wiring guy, electrician. You bring them in 10% of the time right when you have a problem the water is not flowing you call, you have them on speed dial. They're there to tune up your house, right? So the same thing you. It is prohibitively Not reasonable, fuck. So not not like prohibitively expensive to basically have an architect as your roommate and a plumber as your roommate and and electrician as your roommate. Just like, hang out with at your house. Yeah, when like something breaks Right. So the same reasoning why wouldn't you have I totally agree with you.

Speaker 1:

I like that. I like the would you call it burst and then the amplitude, because I've I've also had good success with a hybrid bottle like that as well, not always with offshore, near shore, but Sometimes. So I've had Some of both and in both cases I think can can make it work. And the thing I think that is, over time, as a leader, you have to get a good about is predicting what those Spikes and dips are going to be like in in the change of the, the amount of work that's going to be coming. So that requires which is, I think, what you were talking about that requires you to be out in the business, communicating with lots of people who could influence that, the timing of when those things are going to happen. So that way you're getting better at predicting when those, those spikes and dips are going to happen. So I think I think I'm, I think I think I'm in total agreement with you, I think, on all this, because In my experience is the same thing right? Is it the first? The more the larger your team becomes, the more you're spending time you helping to build and grow and develop the team and the people and the relationships outside of the organization that you're leading and you don't have time to be in the weeds, and so you do need people who can do that, and you need expertise Occasionally. To is what your point is right, and so I think that is Pretty much on par with what I've seen be successful as well.

Speaker 2:

And I think the other thing too is, as you know, I see a lot of enterprise companies they might do FTE offshore versus Agency offshore, and so it's very there's a hidden cost to yes. Fte Offshore, which I've owned in my past. It's just you just have to know about. It's not like it's not. You know I probably it's like. You just have to be aware of it Right where it's like oh you know we can offshore, we can offshore to India and you know it'll be a much lower follow the sun. Well, I always do a follow the sun model. But here's the thing when they're FTEs, then you have to. There is an overhead to manage, right. You also, you have time zone and then managing the offshore team is you have to be. It's very different, obviously. I mean for those of the people that have done there is an overhead to um Manage. You know an offshore team where someone still needs to do the translation, there is still. You still burn a headcount, you still burn an FTE headcount to be the go-between right and so you're. It's. You know you have to add that headcount In order to hey, I'm gonna. If they say you're gonna move like three builders from a high cost area to you know One off off, you know shore but FTE area, then you need to. It's not that, it's not just that right. You have to also plus one a headcount to have a person do a go-between Right, because there is a cost to that um Right versus if it was. You know, and then you have to, you have to do you have to do the balancing app right, and so this is where you would. You know, again, there's a hybrid model for that Now, a different, a different way that I've done it. I've done it both ways which is do offshore, near shore agency, where I'm also Hiring an agency to go manage the offshore part, which actually might be better it would not better but like, depending on where you are, might be a better fit for your current situation, because I've done it every which way. There's no right or wrong. It's just knowing, like, what will make sense in your company, in your situation, in your resources and your funding, in the climate, in the culture, in the environment. All of those things. All of those things have to be taken into consideration. Right, there's no right or wrong, but it's more like I want to give your listeners Basically like this, almost like lucid chart decisioning diagram in the right like, okay, do I do this or that? well, it depends which one is going to be easier. You know, do you have? It's basically, which bucket of funds do you have? Do you have, you know, natural offices over in the areas that you would do it? Is there expertise? Because you might have an offshore or you might have a low-cost area in the different part of the world but, like, those skill sets might not exist. So that's a whole other thing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely yeah. No, it's, and I think there's cultural differences that you have to account for, and so what I've seen when I've had offshore headcount is you have, and I think that's what you're looting to. So I had to have somebody in that locale be the manager of the rest of the team.

Speaker 2:

Yes, oh, absolutely. You have to have a local manager.

Speaker 1:

Yes, and then?

Speaker 2:

I have to have a person in the US base to interface with the local manager on that team. So you're going to burn two headcounts.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

Right, you have to have a local manager. That's for me non-negotiable, Because otherwise it's like there's no. But you're just going to dig yourself a hole, in my opinion.

Speaker 1:

But I guess that's what she says.

Speaker 2:

No, I agree Then you have to burn a US headcount to do that, to do the go back and forth. Maybe not a full headcount, but it is a significant, like, let's just say, 30%, 50% of that person's time.

Speaker 1:

Or yours.

Speaker 2:

Or mine or eight person's time Eight person's time. But one thing that I did want to kind of tangentially is to understand how long something takes, because you kind of alluded to, oh, you have to be able to predict burst capacity. Well, in order to predict burst capacity, you have to be able to scope, and one of the lucky or kind of happenstance byproducts of being a consultant, as I'm sure you know, michael, is it's a skill set of like. For six plus years I learned how to track my time in 15 minute increments, and so because I do that and because I wrote a lot of SOWs for my clients where I'd have to swag how long something takes with a very little information, I got really, really good at it and it has been an amazingly helpful skill set to lean on in order to predict, right, like, looking at, you know, my stakeholders, roadmaps and what they want to do, I can very quickly and easily swag how many person hours it's going to take and how many like actual time, like, oh it's, you know, 40 person hours over two months, right?

Speaker 1:

Like so.

Speaker 2:

I'm almost like and that will also help you understand like how to justify budget and resources for going out and getting an agency versus full time and understanding, and so I've kind of been on this new kick of like okay, just because you don't work for an agency doesn't mean you can't build this skill set, and so you know, getting your FTEs or like your in-house right and having your team right, especially when we're trying to do sprints or story points which you have to scope the number of working hours I can tell you right now. It took me six months when I was a brand new consultant to figure out how to capture, how to log my time, and so I'm kind of like a big fan. I'm a really a big fan of like bringing that into an in-house team and not to like big brother people and like not to just hey, I want to see where your hours go. It's more like to get them to understand, because it took me six months to understand Like, wow, I can really only have five working hours and an eight hour day.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's interesting because I'm thinking back to when I started. My career was in, you know, management consulting, and one of the things, especially when I started managing client relationships and I was reviewing the billing and everything else, is I always had to go back to the team and say charge all your hours, but don't go over right budget. But really the big part was charge all like bill all your hours, put them all in. I may then, as a manager, go like I'm going to discount that because you're a newbie and it shouldn't have taken that long, but I don't want the client should have to pay for that. But I needed that insight to know what it really took so that we could get better at predicting what that would be the next time we had a project like that that we were bidding for. And I think that's what you're talking about just doing it with inside a company.

Speaker 2:

Just doing it inside a company. Because if you think about it like we have to do capacity planning right, like, so the question will become like okay, well, if you're trying to figure out, I need to go hire an agency to go and do whatever. I need to go like get budget for it. It's very like you want you go to an agency and you're like, oh, can you swag me and charge me for whatever it is, because you have to go to the agency to go tell them. But if you have that skill set, you can get. This is how you can get the budget. Like, hey, I can swag. Or like how you can headcount, hey, I can swag. Like we have we're at 120% capacity of what we can build. This is why and here's the and you know right, a ticket, a ticket is like 25% PM time and 75% build time. And then you know it's like oh well, if I'm at 75% PM time because my stakeholders are doing this, isn't this. I know one where to press on to go fix processes. But then also I know how to go ask for, go change it or go ask for more capacity from an hour's perspective. And I think, if you think about it from a capacity, from an efficiency and a capacity perspective, if your team understands how to scope their story points better so that they can write like or also get them to realize where they're, where the inefficiencies of their time is not to say it's their fault, but like right, like here's. As a consultant, this is what you learn. If you work a 40 hour a week, your billables are about 33 to like 30 to 33. You have to try.

Speaker 1:

It sounds about right.

Speaker 2:

It's hard to get 35 to 40, you cannot get 40 billable hours in 40 hours of a work week, like that is really hard, yep. So you understand that concept. Then, if you're in-house, my swag of it is like there's like the in-house things right, hr team meetings, la, la, la, la, la right that aren't billable, and so my guess is that as an FTE, I can really get 27 working hours out of like an IC, right. So then we start with that as currency 27 working hours. Okay, what?

Speaker 1:

are you?

Speaker 2:

guys going to do in 27 hours? What are the things that are going to matter, right?

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

And so if you get your I think, one as a leader, if you understand how long things take, then you can go and figure out what you need from an agency or hybrid perspective.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I'm going to take this another direction, I think, and this is, I think, a pretty good segue, is it? So I think another sort of benefit of that kind of experience and knowledge is that it also helps you have sort of a bullshit meter right, like when you like you know what things really should, like you have like this sounds reasonable. This doesn't sound reasonable, and I'm not saying like it's not 24 versus 22 hours or something like that. It's like, yes, it's in within kind of what I expected or didn't, and I think that's a thing you do Right. So, putting maybe a little different hat or a different take on this, how do you really evaluate consultancies, agencies, contractors? In terms of trying to understand, because you mentioned it earlier, getting the right one is important. How do you define right and how do you suss that out?

Speaker 2:

I mean, and it's hard, and I think the things that I look for, the thing, the agencies that I like to work with, are the people that are going to help me reach my goals. Of course, all the agencies will take your money and want to reach your goal, but here's how you get rid of the bullshit meter. If people are going to do a fixed bid on a project, especially in Mops and Martech, like too good to be true, either you're going to go over and you're going to be asking me for more money or you're going to deliver me like half a table Because you wouldn't know, I scoped so many projects as a consultant. And literally, you're asking me to put a dollar and a number of hours amount on something that I don't know what is and the scam it could be all kinds of things. And so the first how I like to work is really understanding what their billing practices or how they're scoping. Is there a fixed project? Because if you're going to come and tell me, hey, this is going to be $10,000, I'm like I don't think so. Right, like if an implementation typically my rule of thumb is the implementation will be equivalent to the cost of how much the tool costs, if not more.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, easy.

Speaker 2:

Right Like easy, easy, so someone can't.

Speaker 1:

I think that's actually low in my experience.

Speaker 2:

But it's actually like sometimes two, two X, two to three X, because like getting a tool depending on the complexity of the tool.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely.

Speaker 2:

But like, basically, if you get a bin that is lower than the cost of the tool, then you're sending it like bullshit. Right, like that's step one. Right, is it too good to be true? Because if it is, it probably isn't Right. I think the second thing is like, look, when I'm picking, I've been on both sides. When I'm picking up an agency, I'm staking my reputation on this Right and a lot of the decisions, having been on the other side, it's like it's a fear. Right, it's like, okay, I'm hiring you, I'm making decisions. Like, if they fail, then I'm going to look bad, right. So, like it's that fear. It's that fear and I really like to work with, with agencies that are going to be a partner, that are really about hey, you're going to teach me how to fish. Right, they're going to earn my business, not because I have to, if they want to keep my business and it's. And if you look at the model, right, if they've overengineered, if they plan on overengineering something, so like, basically, I can never walk away from them, that's to me a ginormous red flag. I want to know how are you going to get me self-sufficient, like, how are you going to teach me how to fish? So like, if I want to walk away from you, that's part of your mind. And then, as a consultant, that is the way that philosophy that I always use, which was I want you to want to work with me, I want to earn your next business, I want to earn your trust so that, if that, you love the work that I've delivered for you and I've made and I've taught you something new, and you can be self-sufficient on what I taught you. But hey, we're constantly innovating and pushing the next level and the next, the next, like, like innovation that you're going to keep coming back to me because you want to, not because you have to, and there are agencies that fall into one or the other of those camps, and I tend to like to favor working with agencies that are going to make me smarter and teach me something I didn't know. Right. The opposite of a red flag is, hey, if an agency is going to be honest with me enough to say, like, hey, I know you want this and I know you want to pay me this, but this isn't really the right way to do it. I want to save your money because you're going to be wasting your money, that, to me, is a sign of a good agency. Yes, right, who's not going to take my just take my money and like there was no hope of success, right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

You know that's, that's and those are hard. Those are hard to set that and a lot of it is gut feel right because it's about trust.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely.

Speaker 2:

It's about trust and I like to look like OK, how much of a say do I get on who I work with? Can I interview the people that you're going to put on my team? I like to ask, like, of the people that is actually going to be building that, that might be like not my main point of contact how long have they been with the company? What's their training? What's their certification? What's the accreditation Right, because you know those people that are working on your stuff might have joined last week.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean, I will say I think, I think I would lean towards more about their specific experience than their accreditation Because, to your point right, they could have just started.

Speaker 2:

That's what I mean, not accreditation, yeah yeah, yeah, yeah, but I experience it. It's almost like. It's almost like can I, can I interview, you know, kind of like on a light interview, the people that you would like to, the candidates that you would like to propose to be on my team? I'd like to interview them and I'd like to have a say on who gets to on like do I? Or more basically, like how do we? It's the ways of working with an agency, like hey, are you amenable to this? And then there, then there goes into things. Like you know, do I have an account person that I mainly work with? What is their chat Like?

Speaker 1:

the person Right. How do they, how do they tip? How do they work well with clients, like when it's been successful? I think that's an important thing to understand, right.

Speaker 2:

And they're also how technical it is, because it's like is my main point? Like are you going to? Am I dealing with the PM, who's not technical but that's my main point of contact, or am I dealing with the technical architect? What is their percentage of being on the account? I also ask how many accounts are each of the people on my team working on? Because if someone's working on 13 accounts, that's going to be very different mind share than like a person's like hey, this person is dedicated to your account. I want them to also feel like they're part of the team. I want them to have skin in the game. I want them to have right or, like you know, depending on your relationship with with. You know the different, the different agencies, right, like. So it's all of that kind of culturally, is it a match?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I, I agree with that too. I think trying to think of like practical things that I've done in the past to try to get to some of those things about. I think trust is the word that comes to mind every time we talk about this. You know, I think one of the things I try to do, both with people who work for me as well as consultants or agencies that I bring in is, you know, I want people who are comfortable pushing back with me. You know, I'm I'm confident and sometimes I'm opinionated. I try to be open to the idea that I'm wrong about stuff too, and I want people to be comfortable speaking up and if to me, I think it might. When I was a consultant, I always thought part of my job was to tell the client what they needed to hear, not what they wanted to hear, Because sometimes that was more valuable and sometimes that meant not getting work. But I think it ultimately ends up being better for both parties.

Speaker 2:

No.

Speaker 1:

I mean.

Speaker 2:

I mean the whole point of having consultants is right. You know, as a consultant, being on both sides like teach me what I don't know, teach me something that I don't know.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, make me smart about my job. Yeah, and also minimize minimize my risk. Right, I'm not. I don't care about your risk that much Like I want my reputation, our financial exposure, our ability to deliver. I want all those things to be as minimal, as minimized as possible. I get that you can't 100% eliminate risk and that's just part of the real world, but I want people who will work with me on how to do that and prove that they can do it, Because ultimately, if I spend, you know that dollar with you, that means I can't spend it somewhere else typically. So I'm like it's a bet.

Speaker 2:

Like I'm banking my reputation on my decisions.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

There's a lot of unknowns. There's a lot of unknowns, right, so I need to feel good about my decision, yeah absolutely.

Speaker 1:

Well, let's get to like maybe one more top, because I think we're going to run out of time here. To your point. I think we could have talked about this for a couple of hours or over a couple of different episodes. But what is your, what's your take on the whole RFI, RFP process on both sides? Right Is it is a?

Speaker 2:

I've done it on both sides. I have done it on both sides and I do not like right. The purpose of an RFP, right, is to have a fair playing field. And you ask all the same questions and et cetera, and having been on the other side is like it is incredibly difficult to be able to ask the same questions To, let's say, three vendors. Like what you're trying to get to Right, because it is very difficult as a as being on the other side and having to fill out those questionnaires. Like well, how do I Force fit my answers into a box? That's like. That's not what we're like. Let me show you what we're good at. Let me, yeah, I'm trying to earn your trust through a piece of paper. You're trying. I'm like, if I'm doing an RFP, I'm trying to assess Right, because I've done our piece on the other side. For, like, vendor technologies and I'm like this, none of this is gonna help me make a decision on which one to go to right.

Speaker 1:

Like no, it's all gonna be about the experience with those people.

Speaker 2:

Exactly and I think you, you, you basically summarize it so well. Like it's about the experience and it's about trust. And how can you put it on a piece of paper? And Also, just because the people that you would trust it might not be, and, having been on the other side, it's like it might not show itself or be evident. Right, like you know, like I tried to make my customers, my clients, feel like they can trust me, how is that gonna come across when I try to write that in an RFP? How do I? But you know it's a nearly impossible right, you put me in a room we talked about and then you can decide Do am I a right fit for you or not from a console. It's the other flip side. Like I need to talk To the agency. Like I'm like, and actually ask some poignant questions and take the conversation in different places. Right, like Having like, oh, how many clients do you have that are similar to us? Five, ten, fifteen? like that doesn't tell me anything about whether I trust you or not right, like you know, obviously you're gonna bad channel, but like, tell me, right like it's, it's really getting in a room and talking to him and hearing them and pressing them, and so I'm. I guess it's a long way of saying I don't the art. If your company requires you to do RFP, please don't put so much emphasis on making your decision based on an RFP.

Speaker 1:

No, I, I think. I think I Recently ran an RFP process because I was kind of forced to and I was not a fan of it, and I will say that I think the way that we handled it, we've got a couple things. One don't assume the RP is going to be complete or understood, because it won't. So I think having conversations after the fact, once it's issued any agency that wants to have a follow-up conversation, you should absolutely have that, and if you learn something new, that or clarify something for them, they should go to all the other continuing yeah, eight companies that are bidding. The other thing I think it did, it did enable us to Really have conversations with the agencies who wanted to bid and really look at them differently and have those. The conversation part of it was way more important than the actual written stuff that went back and forth, so I think that was huge. On the flip side, as a, as a consultant or agency, I mean I've done the same thing. I respond to RFPs and generally I wouldn't put a whole lot of effort into it unless they're willing to have those conversations. So then, so then right.

Speaker 2:

like what good agencies are you missing out on? Yes, forcing an RFP right, because a lot of times like, look like, yes, we want the business, but like the RFP was so Onerous, that's like, yeah, okay, pass right, but we might have been a good fit, yep. So what are you? What junk are you pulling in? What good things are you leaving out? Right, false positives, false negatives. And so I understand that you know company. You know a lot of companies require the RFP, but then maybe you don't make it so onerous that you might be losing out on really good Agencies. That might be a really good fit. Yeah, I agree.

Speaker 1:

Well, I think we're gonna have to cut it there, jessica, and this has been a fun conversation. I've enjoyed it the second time around maybe more than the first time when we had it, so this is great. Thank you so much. If folks want to Kind of follow up with you or follow you or keep up with your work, what's the best way for them to do that?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you can always reach out and connect with me on LinkedIn. Drop me a message on, like, you know where, you know what you're, you know I get a lot of LinkedIn connections right, so always like drop the message in there to just put context around. You know the connection. And then, for those of you that are going to adobe summit, I'll be speaking at adobe summit on translating geek speak to see sweet, so don't miss out on that. Oh, that's like the best, like I wish I could be there, but it's not in the cards this year.

Speaker 1:

But I'm sure it'll be great, because I've seen that a couple of times at different marketing opscom stuff. We're gonna, we're gonna do a like it's gonna be an upgrade.

Speaker 2:

It's a little bit new stuff, right? So just saw it in my office of palooza. It's gonna be like next we're gonna, we're gonna add new stuff to it. Kick it up a notch, right, all right? Oh, yes, exactly, we're gonna kick it up a notch at adobe summit in Vegas at the end of march, so come check out the adobe summit on the right this at the end of march, so come check me out there.

Speaker 1:

Sounds good, all right. Well, thanks everyone and, uh, we look forward to continuing to get you more content like this, and thank you for being supportive, and we will talk to you next time. Bye, everyone.

Hiring Contractors in Marketing Ops
Navigating Marketing Ops Hiring Decisions
Navigating the Hybrid Model in Enterprise
Team Resource Allocation and Planning
Evaluating Agency Partnerships and Risk Mitigation
Navigating the RFP Process for Agencies