This is a key question that is often overlooked in a lot of RFPs I review. Implementing a marketing database is a big undertaking, and making sure you have a provider that has experience building and implementing projects on time is key to success. There are two main components within this question that need to be addressed:
Hosting: An important first step is to decide if you want to take on the work of deploying and supporting a software-based solution on premise or if you’d prefer engaging a hosting partner who will use their expertise to build, deploy, and support your marketing solution. Often, the hosting partners have relationships with a variety of multichannel campaign management vendors and offer a choice of platforms to fit your existing and future needs. If you are entering a full-service agreement, it is paramount that the vendor you select has the appropriate means to properly service your account.
Building: Once you have decided on software versus hosting you will need to start a scoping and requirements gathering process for building the solution. Depending on the scope of the project and complexity of the infrastructure, building a marketing database - from initial scoping to final deployment - can take 6-9 months with a hosting vendor and 12-18 months if you are deploying your own software. Timing is everything – and there are many things to consider. Are you staffed to support this process (especially if you are deploying on premise)? If you are changing vendors, how will your business run during this process? You’ll want to disengage the incumbent (who more than likely is not attentive to your needs while you are building a new solution with a different vendor) as quickly as possible.