Over the last week, I’ve encour­aged you to start assess­ing your organization’s test­ing and opti­miza­tion efforts and to begin bench­mark­ing your­self against high-performing com­pa­nies and brands. In my last post, I took a deep dive into cul­ture and lead­er­ship, two crit­i­cal dimen­sions of opti­miza­tion matu­rity. You need to have a cul­ture that not only sup­ports, but also embraces opti­miza­tion and makes data-driven deci­sions across all lev­els. In that vein, your orga­ni­za­tion also needs top-down lead­er­ship to push the enve­lope and pro­pel efforts forward.

As I men­tioned in part 2, the most suc­cess­ful orga­ni­za­tions seam­lessly inte­grate test­ing and opti­miza­tion across all cor­ners of the busi­ness. But, like I said last time, some orga­ni­za­tions can increase their matu­rity lev­els and gain valu­able ROI with­out being an A+ in all six—and that’s okay. Your orga­ni­za­tion may have scored well in cul­ture and lower in lead­er­ship or vice versa. Or you may be thriv­ing (or lack­ing) in both. The crit­i­cal piece of this six-point scor­ing sys­tem is just that—it’s a mul­ti­point sys­tem with ample oppor­tu­nity to excel. So don’t get dis­cour­aged if you came up short and, like­wise, don’t get ahead of your­self if you’re head of the class when it comes to cul­ture and leadership.

Here are two more dimen­sions for your matu­rity assess­ment: strat­egy and orga­ni­za­tion. They have some good nat­ural align­ment with cul­ture and lead­er­ship in that you need strat­egy and orga­ni­za­tion to actu­ally set the test­ing and opti­miza­tion balls in motion. To get started in assess­ing these dimen­sions, ask your­self how well every­one involved under­stands opti­miza­tion and your respec­tive approach. Think about the tools you have in place—or could have in place. Are they the right ones, and are they avail­able? Like­wise, do you have the peo­ple in place to get it all done? Let’s see how you stack up.

Strat­egy

Buy-in is great, but how well do the par­ties involved in your cur­rent and upcom­ing test­ing and opti­miza­tion efforts actu­ally under­stand what needs to get done? More impor­tantly, can they tap into the exist­ing tools and best prac­tices already in place to improve users’ dig­i­tal expe­ri­ence? Are they approach­ing it effec­tively and effi­ciently, with the proper strat­egy in place to keep efforts going in both the short and long term?

Last time, I looked at Lenovo, and with its rev­o­lu­tion­ary test­ing and opti­miza­tion best prac­tices, it’s no sur­prise that the com­pany is a strat­egy all-star, too. Senior Man­ager for Opti­miza­tion & Per­son­al­iza­tion Sip­ing Roussin notes that, at the end of the day, Lenovo’s strat­egy is sim­ple: make opti­miza­tion a line item in every mar­ket­ing effort, and be your own cheer­leader day in and day out. The com­pany does this by build­ing a cadence of com­mu­ni­ca­tion that per­me­ates key areas of the orga­ni­za­tion and enables two-way dia­logue between every­one involved, at all levels.

Tac­ti­cally speak­ing, the opti­miza­tion team car­ries out two mer­chan­dis­ing ini­tia­tives, each designed to spur con­ver­sa­tion. A biweekly newslet­ter is sent to inter­nal employ­ees detail­ing opti­miza­tion results, fol­lowed by a monthly forum enabling global staffers to con­nect and con­fer on a host of themes and top­ics via Web con­fer­ence. This two-stage approach encour­ages dis­cus­sion of suc­cess­ful tests as well as an oppor­tu­nity to glean strate­gic tac­tics to improve on those ini­tia­tives that left ele­ments to be desired.

This global shoring up enables Lenovo to ensure truly uni­ver­sal align­ment on all opti­miza­tion efforts. Whether your orga­ni­za­tion is hyper­local or inter­na­tional, think about your cohe­sion. Is there a deep level of strate­gic under­stand­ing and align­ment? Healthy, pro­duc­tive chat­ter hap­pen­ing in the office or online, inspir­ing both an under­stand­ing of and sync­ing with efforts, fol­lowed by an appro­pri­ate uti­liza­tion of resources? It’s a chal­lenge, for sure. Although your orga­ni­za­tion may be gung-ho to get started, mak­ing sure every­one is speak­ing the same lan­guage and going through the same motions with the same strate­gic man­dates in mind is critical—and challenging.

Orga­ni­za­tion

Cul­ture, lead­er­ship buy-in, and an effec­tive strat­egy are great, but with­out the right peo­ple and the right skill sets to run those high-value ini­tia­tives, you could find your­self hold­ing the prover­bial opti­miza­tion bag. This one’s sim­ple to assess. Do you have the tal­ent, the band­width and the tacit knowl­edge to exe­cute your strate­gies, from the pie-in-the-sky to the everyday?

It’s impor­tant to remem­ber that you don’t need to be at the helm of a mas­sive inter­na­tional busi­ness to excel in this dimen­sion. Adobe part­ner Smart Fur­ni­ture started out as a small com­pany with a two-person mar­ket­ing team. Within just two years that team had grown sig­nif­i­cantly, with indi­vid­ual mar­keters focus­ing on unique aspects of the pro­mo­tional busi­ness, includ­ing social media, paid search, and more.

Smart Fur­ni­ture rec­og­nized this as a core opti­miza­tion dimen­sion and one in which it could excel. The com­pany appointed eight prod­uct man­agers for each Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud solu­tion and encour­aged employ­ees at all lev­els to learn from and col­lab­o­rate with one another—not just to review spe­cific solu­tions, but also to learn the inte­gra­tions between those solu­tions, enabling them to tell a richer results-driven story and deter­mine action­able next steps to pro­pel the busi­ness forward.

What’s unique about this example—and encour­ag­ing for small and medium businesses—is that Smart Fur­ni­ture knew the “right peo­ple” didn’t nec­es­sar­ily need to be the most expe­ri­enced within this realm. One stand­out prod­uct man­ager was ini­tially an accoun­tant who showed a keen inter­est in ana­lyt­ics and marketing.

The end result of Smart Furniture’s orga­ni­za­tion efforts? The com­pany has grown and thrived and, nat­u­rally, become even more inter­ested in test­ing and opti­miza­tion at all lev­els. At this point, it’s rou­tine to see top-ranking exec­u­tives raise their hands and ask, “Why don’t we test this?” Check and check.

Like cul­ture and lead­er­ship, these two dimen­sions are crit­i­cal in assess­ing and improv­ing opti­miza­tion matu­rity. Hav­ing the will, the drive, the buy-in, and the envi­ron­ment is all well and good, but with­out the peo­ple, the resources, the tools, and the know-how to get it done, it really doesn’t mat­ter. Look inter­nally and see what you’ve got—and plan to look in some unex­pected places.

Two more dimen­sions are com­ing along, with some rec­om­men­da­tions to gain that crit­i­cal matu­rity your orga­ni­za­tion needs to max­i­mize the dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion we’re in—and likely one in which you’re already invest­ing heav­ily. Stay tuned, and in the mean­time, give your­self and your orga­ni­za­tion a thor­ough, hon­est assess­ment on these two dimen­sions so you’re ready for what’s next. Trust me, you’ll love what’s com­ing up.