Regina had over 15 years’ experience consulting and managing technical writing and documentation projects for large corporations before transitioning to writing sales proposals and marketing collateral. She joined Minacs in 2003 as Manager, Marketing Communications, a “catch-all” title for a role that involved various corporate marketing and sales support activities.
Over the years, Regina progressed to take on additional responsibilities and, in her role today as Director of Marketing, she continually takes on an ever-growing mandate to help the sales team achieve their goals, while driving new initiatives in social media, analyst relations, and public relations.
TRANSFORMING THE MARKETING FUNCTION FOR BUSINESS RESULTS
When India-based outsourcing services provider TransWorks acquired the Canadian BPO company, Minacs, in 2006, the union did not start out exactly like a match made in heaven. It was more like how an Indian co-worker described his own marriage: “We arranged first, and then love followed!”
|Global delivery models require integrating core values
In the Marketing and Communications department, our primary challenge included integrating teams that operated from three locations―Bangalore, Mumbai, and Toronto. They performed different functions―sales support, presales proposal coordination, internal communications, and collateral production.
During integration planning, we found that, while certain marketing processes had to be performed in close proximity to our internal (e.g., our sales teams) and external (e.g., media) customers, others were candidates for outsourcing (e.g., website maintenance) and/or performed more cost-effectively “offshore” (e.g., collateral production). While “virtualizing” our business model, we also had the mandate to strengthen our marketing services to support the company’s strategic and go to market plans with agility. To deliver the business results expected of us, we included additional services to our Marketing portfolio--research and advisory, social media, and analyst relations.
MERGING DIVERGENT CULTURES: START WITH UNDERSTANDING!
At the outset, each team followed its own processes, consulted with local subject matter experts, and worked with varying templates and technologies. There was plenty of early dissention, with each team respectfully deeming its way to be “tried and true”. It was clearly imperative for everybody to agree on a common “Minacs Way”.
While one team would try to obtain buy-in on methodology and process, others merely compromised and everyone was working up a “competitive” mentality. After months of lukewarm interactions, we realized that for real “win-win”, we had to set aside the merits of compromise and engage in true collaborative discussions.The first step was to develop an appreciation for and an understanding of each other as people.
So at one of our quarterly Marketing meets, we had everyone get on video conference to share insights on their lives outside of work. We shared photos of our families, pets, hobbies, etc. We also played a game that had everyone present two truths and one lie about him/her. The team had to guess at which of the three statements was the lie. This brought about such hilarity that when we had finished with all introductions, the first communication barriers had been broken.
As we worked together on different projects, we expressed our views more openly, learning to listen and understand the “other”. Now, we could focus on job goals rather than get sidetracked to defending rigid positions. Another key ice-breaker was to share our annual goal setting documents across Marketing functions during the annual budgeting exercise. This enabled us to understand each other’s plan and negotiate common goals that were incorporated into individual goals—across geographies and functions.
RE-ENGINEERING AFTER UNDERSTANDING: QUICKER TO BUSINESS AS USUAL!
Now was the right time in our integration journey to take a hard look at our processes, standards, templates, and methodologies―and to agree on a cohesive approach.
Indeed, the more open and highly interactive discussions actually paved the way for greater value creation beneficial to the group as a whole. For example, our multi-location presales teams worked through several iterations to refine our approach to writing executive summaries so that the result was now more effective, and the job easier!
Similarly, corporate communications team members collaborated on a new approval process. Global communications created in one location are now reviewed by another for “language”, cultural/audience sensitivity, and to ensure that key company messages are adequately conveyed.
FOLLOW THE SUN: SEAMLESS GLOBAL DELIVERY AND HIGH QUALITY!
With operational integration and cross-functional effectiveness as key drivers, we had to simultaneously implement a global delivery model within Marketing. This allowed us to provide certain shared services globally (e.g., research and advisory, creative/Web design, corporate communications, etc.), while ensuring all our users were aware of and comfortable about leveraging our services, irrespective of which geography performed the work.
The majority of our internal clients are based in North America, but most of our shared services originate from India. Initially, projects with aggressive deadlines were assigned to the Toronto team to service local requests for “same time zone delivery” with agility, but before long, that small team needed to rope in global resources, especially with the addition of several new cutting edge marketing services including social networking and engagement.
Our India teams start later so that their work day overlaps with the Toronto team’s by about three hours. By having the two geographies “tag team” on projects, work can progress pretty much continuously around the clock. And to improve skills across the board, we instituted peer-to-peer reviews and training sessions. Apart from knowledge sharing, it was important to also “market” Marketing—sharing our “wins” with key internal customers to help assuage some initial unease with global delivery.
Our true gains really emerged from how we seamlessly “expert sourced” specialist skills from two ends of the world and efficiently integrated the output to best-in-class standards. For example, on certain deliverables, by combining the technical writing and editing capabilities we had in Toronto with some valuable BPO operations and marketing experience in India.
VALUE PARTNERING: BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION BUILT ON TRUST!
By investing the time and effort to build rapport first and by implementing our global delivery model, everyone learned to leverage available skills and to collaborate intensively to achieve our goals.
As in any business transformation, we hit some obstacles along the way. But our ability to find solutions as a team despite our physical distances underlines why our team succeeds as value partners to the business. The early mindset of seeking understanding has fostered collaboration without compromise to our values, and helped us reach for stretch goals consistently. No wonder then that the Marketing team recently took away the company’s Core Values award for “Seamlessness”!
Do you have experience being part of a global team? If so, what worked well in terms of integrating the teams? What were some of the pitfalls? Let us know. Leave a comment.