Quality Is a Process, Not an Interpretation

April 26th, 2013

Some of the most effective processes are developed as a result of moments that, frankly, don’t feel very successful. Efficiencies and value are established once problems have been clearly identified, modified, and resolved. The process of trying, revising, and trying again is fundamental to every personal or organizational success story. There are a million sayings to this effect, so I won’t bore you with them.

Recently, we made a mistake. As an organization, we neglected to use our own process for publishing a campaign. The result was less than stellar. Did it hurt? Sure…errors always do. But as an organization full of like-minded, goal-oriented people, we pulled together to learn from it and move forward.

In our eagerness to reach our audience with really positive feedback we’d gotten from a client, we went outside of our traditional approach. We went rogue, one could say. Rather than crafting a campaign, collaboratively editing its message according to its target audience, and matching it to the right prospect at the appropriate place within our own funnel, we enthusiastically wrote a message and published it.  Unfortunately, while the message was meant to deliver this fantastic client feedback, we neglected to actually include the client feedback. A placeholder ran front and center in the main visual real estate of a campaign. How did this happen? The campaign was not put through our standard quality assurance process.

It was a moment of do as I say and not as I do. The results speak for themselves.  Automation of any kind will do one of two things: accelerate success or accelerate failure. This happens because, as we’ve said before, the foundation of any effective marketing or demand generation process is not the tool you choose to use. What counts is the process, skill, and effort poured into the tool. Successful employment of a marketing automation tool requires a quality assurance program.

Quality assurance is a practice, not a philosophy. As an operations guy, I’m not interested in theory. I’m interested in processes that work in a repeatable, scalable manner. If there’s a way to prescribe an outcome, I want to make sure we are doing it and documenting what it is. Quality assurance is, essentially, a methodology to prescribe a positive outcome.

Modern quality assurance, or QA, is a process designed to make a product ready for its intended use. After identifying the purpose of a product, specialists conduct a series of tests to ensure the product meets the requirements of its intended purpose. Boiling it down, if your product was designed to generate leads, it should do so right out of the gate. Your product should be consumed as intended, not as unintended mistakes or errors. A QA validation process manages out any errors or unplanned results in the materials, assembly, or transmission of your product. Pragmatically, by designing a great product and determining the user is consuming your product in its intended manner, you’re prescribing a positive outcome for your organization.

Our engine is based on an integrated process underpinned by QA standards. It’s been tested, it’s been documented, it’s been vetted, and it’s been proven to work. There’s a rigor to it that has been shown to deliver results not only for ourselves, but for our clients. Our process is nimble and quickly deployable, but any system of checks and balances requires a time commitment. While it may be tempting to side-step that commitment occasionally, the truth is that any perceived opportunities—such as saving a small amount of time—are outweighed by a lot of potential risk. The lesson here, folks, is to stick to the processes you've worked hard to create. Quality is the result of rigor, consistency, and unwillingness to compromise—and we do ourselves an injustice when we forgo any of these elements...