The hallmarks of a successful optimisation program are increasing test volume and broadening support across business units and geographies. Adoption increases if the program demonstrates value, but this success can lead to friction that may threaten the momentum the program enjoyed in its early phases. Program tension occurs when the goals of various practitioners begin to overlap.
- Marketers need to track campaigns to revenue, which can tread on eCommerce teams testing within the buyflow
- Geo-specific campaigns need to run simultaneously on specific locations within a site or an app
- Channel owners need to test on the same locations with different content for their own channels
- Skill levels of various groups differ and challenge the program’s ability to deliver consistent results across the business
And there are as many other scenarios as you can imagine. The complexity of the programs eventually forces organisations to adopt one of two models for optimisation: centralised or distributed.
Centres of Excellence Enable Centralised Programs
Large enterprises have been developing Centres of Excellence (CoE) for years. The idea being that when a specialised skill set is required to deliver value to the organisation, it is better to have one group of people providing services and leadership rather than 10 or 20 groups duplicating each other’s efforts with varying degrees of success. Optimisation programs make perfect candidates for CoEs so that they can provide leadership, training, research and support throughout the organisation.
The key benefit of a CoE is that individual groups can focus on execution toward their goals rather than developing new core competencies. Ideally, the CoE will help groups determine appropriate staffing levels for things like ideation, test creation, web development, etc. The role of the CoE is to jumpstart the group or support them as needs dictate.
Methodology and Process Enable Distributed Programs
In distributed models, each group participating in an optimisation program must act independently based on its own abilities. However, the same areas for friction exist and must be addressed to ensure smooth growth of the overall program. This requires strong project management to ensure each team is aware of the other’s goals, objectives and plans in order to mitigate risk.
Distributed programs often include joint prioritisation and ranking of tests between groups to ensure they do not collide with one another and that tests supporting the greater “business” value can rank higher. This approach ensures buy-in from stakeholders who must often make trade-offs on their own optimisation goals or roadmaps in support of overall business objectives.
Specifically, to avoid collisions between tests, distributed programs may require the adoption of “swim lanes” where testing within each group can safely be conducted without worry about interference from tests being run by other groups. A clear understanding of swim lanes also drives a simple rule: If you must test or track visitors across swim lanes, you must coordinate with the other groups.
A simple example is a manufacturer site where there are multiple brands and the goal of a test is to understand the movement of visitors between brands when confronted with attributes such as features, price and availability. In large organisations, the branded areas of a site are likely to define swim lanes, and this kind of behavioural testing forces communication and coordination. Fortunately, this kind of testing is also likely to deliver higher value to the overall organisation and would get high priority within a joint prioritisation meeting.
Success Hinges on Communication
Whether in a centralised model where information radiates from a central source, or in a distributed model where information is shared between groups, communication drives collaboration and success. Shared lessons and learnings allow optimisation teams to increase knowledge and skills that better serve the business. The key is to have formal processes in place that establish guardrails for optimisation and clear lines of communication.
Webtrends Optimize routinely helps clients establish their own programs for optimisation that jointly operate alongside our own team of experts. As our clients mature their internal programs, this shared workload dramatically increases the pace of optimisation and broadens visibility into its overall value. Thus, the discipline of optimisation is also a discipline of communication – and sharing its returns will sustain the program in the long run.
If you have questions about how we have helped our clients build their own optimisation programs, reach out!