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CASE STUDY: Marketing Operations Meets Compliance

Business Problem

Our client is a financial services company that is regulated in part by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  The company was fined millions of dollars for failing to retain a large number of securities-related electronic records in the required format, and for failing to retain certain categories of outgoing emails. They also did not have a reasonable supervisory system in place to achieve compliance with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and FINRA books and records rules, which contributed to its record-retention failures. 

To address these issues, the marketing department undertook an initiative to implement a system to automate the execution and retention of the compliance approval of all marketing content.

Project Background

Many financial services companies have separate systems just for compliance purposes. Usually that system sits in the legal department of the corporation. This client did not have a compliance system in place and wanted its Marketing Operations and its Marketing Governance teams to manage their compliance system of record in order to track all of the digital assets and other electronic records that came out of its marketing department. The company needed a tool to give them an automated permanent record for every piece of marketing content that they could trace –digitally or otherwise, and to see when it was approved, by who, and what was the resolution at final approval.

Pinpoint Systems was introduced to the company through IBM when the company bought IBM Marketing Operations software. Pinpoint lead the implementation and also configured the system to function as both its marketing operations automation system and its system of record for compliance to address the main business problem. We worked with the VP of Marketing Operations, the VP of Branding- both reporting to the CMO, and the Marketing Governance team.

The Marketing Governance team facilitated and managed the approval process. The team has a 7+ step process to get creative pieces through approval beginning with the initial submission of a project by the author/creative director. Changes by the reviewers are submitted and the next reviewer is given the piece and it is resubmitted for the next reviewer and so forth. There are also multiple places in the life of a piece of content where it was very difficult to determine where the bottlenecks were. Previously, the entire process was handled via email and much of approval audit trail was buried in the email inboxes, which was very time consuming to extract and nearly impossible to ensure accuracy in the approval chains. 10% of the time was creating the content and 90% of the time was waiting for the approvals in between. There was no way to track the approvals in an automated way without searching through individual emails. The client needed to reduce the cycle time for individual approvals.

The approval process required (i.e., who need to approve) for any given piece of creative varied depending on a variety of factors, which necessitated coordination of all approvals by the Marketing Governance team.   The process included the Marketing Governance team routing the content to the appropriate resources/teams and coordinating comments and changes from the reviewers with the author/creative content owner throughout the approval process. The system implementation needed to accommodate this three level (Author->Marketing Governance ->Reviewers) approval process.

Project Highlights

The Marketing Operations system needed to house the entirety of the approval process, including tracking every single communication on every channel, which meant capturing and storing information on who approved it, when it was approved and what changes if any were made fully automated system managed not only the approval process but the complete multi-channel marketing process,  with the different types of templates needed for the various types of projects, as is the case with the set-up of most marketing systems.

Pinpoint also provided the company with audit trail for approvals so comments, the team member(s) who approved content/digital assets were are all extracted and saved in a permanent place. The Marketing Governance team was then able to access all the information of the approvals for each piece of creative for compliance auditing purposes. 

Pinpoint made extensive use of Teams functionality inside the Marketing Operations system.  For example, project requests were sent to a project management team to initiate the project, and creative assets were routed to various review teams.   This approach enabled the team leader and the team members to dynamically manage the workload of their teams.  Further all the people on the team have visibility into the status of all of the teams work items. This mechanism took the burden of knowing who will be handling a particular piece of work off of individuals throughout the marketing organization and other parts of the company, thereby streamlining operations. Prior to utilizing the Team functionality in the system, anyone submitting project requests or approval requests had to coordinate with each team separately and find the individual point of contact that would be handling their request.

The entire implementation took about 4 months and included the training of 100+ users.  

Benefits

  • Reports are easily generated to provide insight into: the active approvals and where there are bottlenecks, where are things stuck in work queue and which resource is the last to “touch” a project, how many projects are on-going or completed, and how many items are approved.
  • The new system enables capacity planning and gives the team the information they need for the management to plan the marketing projects needed for the coming period.
  • The team is able to respond to the market faster.
  • The system provides the proper tracking for the audit trail to assist with compliance so the company can avoid hefty fines in the future and to plan appropriately for any new regulatory measures that they need to track.

By adding the Marketing Operations capabilities, the team is able to respond to the market faster.

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