Agile Development Leadership

Consulting. Training. Coaching.

Questions or comments about this article? We'd love to hear from you.

Can Engineering & Marketing Get Along?

They’re selling features we haven’t even designed yet!—is a common complaint from engineers about sales and marketing. Requirements are a moving target, thanks to marketing. They’re not well-defined. They’re growing and changing, yet deadlines and schedules are firm.

While engineering is pointing fingers at marketing, marketing is pointing back. Engineers aren’t getting the importance of cost, schedule, and features. To marketing, it seems that engineers care about creating technically superior solutions, regardless of cost or schedule.

The Essence of the Conflict

If you’re in engineering, you’ve probably seen this conflict for yourself. Marketing, responsible for product management, is supposed to understand customer needs and then communicate those needs to engineering. Then engineers develop products to meet those needs.

Simple, right? Not at all.

From engineering’s viewpoint, product development is complex. There are trade-offs between cost, time-to-market, performance, quality, and customer preferences. Therefore, there’s risk—whether it’s developing new technology, implementing existing technologies, creating a new design from scratch, or modifying an existing design.

But marketing doesn’t participate in much of that. They’ve brought customer requirements to the engineers, and they’re back to selling.

That leaves engineering feeling that marketing routinely overlooks the risks and the complexity of product development. Meanwhile, marketing feels that engineering overstates risk and complexity, indulging their tendencies to see things as complex when they really aren’t as bad as all that.

Marketing’s Role

Peter Drucker, whom many call “the father of business consulting,” made an observation that no one involved in business should ever forget:

Other men are also seeing how pretty your woman is and therefore, the competition will always be there. cialis 10 mg You can check out some of the tadalafil from india customer and it is very reliable. It helps in spiritual growth of the mind by diverting its focus from negative thoughts to positive things in life. generic super cialis Medical viagra sildenafil mastercard science, with every passing year, is launching new treatment for the problems.
Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.

If you’re an engineer, don’t be put off by that last sentence (emphasis added, by the way), and don’t overlook it either. It means engineers must appreciate the marketing function.

Notice Drucker didn’t say that “marketing” or “innovation” by themselves produce results. He emphasizes the critical nature of both. He’s describing the essence of an engineering-intensive business, where the relationship between the innovation engine (i.e., engineering) and marketing must work.

Marketing—done well—is what gets engineered products in the hands of customers. Great marketing can generate enormous business, even for technologically inferior products. Apple is an example. There is nothing really special about the technology contained within their products compared to competitive products. The iPhone even has a history of audio problems, yet that didn’t seem to make a dent in their sales. Apple is wildly successful for two reasons: because of clean, user-friendly design and because of their outstanding marketing.

At the other extreme, poor marketing can—and does—keep useful products from making it in the marketplace, even when they were built using exceptional technology. Silicon Valley has a long history of start-ups where outstanding engineering efforts took a nosedive because marketing failed to bring the news to the world. A classic example: thanks to marketing blunders, Sony’s Betamax videotape format (a superior technology for its time) lost out to VHS. The marketing strategy for VHS was successful while Sony’s poor marketing strategy let their Betamax products gradually slip from view.

How Is It Where You Are?

What’s the relationship between marketing and engineering like in your company? Is there a wall between them, or is the interaction collaborative and productive?

If it’s not a partnership, what needs to change? Do you have the right people, methods and tools? How about attitudes? Are there bad feelings between engineering and marketing teams?

To break down barriers, you’ll have to answer these questions honestly. A message to leaders, in particular: if you know there is conflict between marketing and engineering, you’re looking directly at one of the best and most obvious opportunities to improve your business—by resolving the conflict.

Share this post

New Resources... Hand-delivered

Auxilium's Practical PD Newsletter

Sign up for Auxilium's newsletter and never miss a new article, e-book or whitepaper.

Sign Me Up!

More Articles

Contact us to schedule a complimentary discussion of your situation.

How to Get Started with Auxilium

We know selecting a partner to help with mission critical processes and skills is a big decision. The best way to learn about Auxilium, our services and how we get results is to start small. Three ways to quickly get started:

noun_executive_2435318

Executive Briefing

A quick way to gain insight into your own situation as well as Auxilium services is to conduct a one to three hour executive briefing. These often include:
  • An interactive discussion to share the latest developments in NPD trends
  • The business case for improving NPD performance through Agile or other methods
  • Real-time analysis to quickly assess your current situation, challenges and potential solutions
noun_workshop_3852484

NPD Assessment

A rapid assessment of your current NPD practices and challenges provides deeper insight into your situation and options for improvement. This typically consists of: 

  • A review of your situation and key obstacles to success
  • An overview of NPD best practices with industry examples
  • Facilitating your business case for investing in improvements
  • A proposed roadmap for enhancing your NPD performance
MAHD ICON w_border2

Agile Learning

With the range of stakeholder opinions and perspectives, it can be hard to visualize how implementing Agile methods can really help. A good way to start is foundational skills training. In two hours to a full day, Auxilium can: 

  • Provide an overview of Agile methods as applied to hardware
  • Walk through a sample Agile project implementation
  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches

How to Get Started with MAHD

MAHD Overview

Learn about the benefits of the MAHD Framework over traditional waterfall NPD processes.

Request a Complimentary MAHD Overview

We offer no obligation 45-minute discussions to quickly determine if MAHD is right for you:

  • The key elements of the MAHD Framework
  • How MAHD is unique from Scrum, SAFe and others
  • The best approach to trial Agile
  • How to best manage the transition to a more Agile way

90-Second Overview

We’ve summarized the MAHD Framework and benefits in 90 seconds.

Agile for Hardware Overview
Play Video about Agile for Hardware Overview

With So Many Choices, Why Auxilium?

Five Reasons...

Practical, Proven Tools and Methods

Every method and tool we provide, with either a training or consulting program, has been proven in real-world projects.

Live, Experienced Consultants

You'll work directly with senior consultants who have over 20 years of PD experience. No inexperienced trainers or fresh MBA's.

Cost Effective

As a virtual team with low overhead, you'll get the experience of a tier one consultancy group at a fraction of typical fees.

Concise, Comprehensive Programs

We focus every training or consulting program on the essential skills and implementation to get immediate results.

A Passion for Results

We understand the risk and expense of getting outside help. Our goal is to ensure you get the results you need.

Contact us to schedule a complimentary discussion of your situation.