Navigating the CDP Journey: Insights from Organization to Go-Live

CDP implementation: before the start of the project 

Implementing a customer data platform (CDP) is a major undertaking that requires careful planning. As its name suggests, a CDP is a tool specifically designed to process, transform and aggregate customer data. Once the data strategy has been defined and the CDP developed, implementation can begin. The successful implementation of a CDP project progresses through several stages, which we will discuss in this blog series. 


Project organization: distribution of roles and responsibilities 

Effective and well-thought-out project organization is an integral part of an orderly and successful implementation of a customer data platform. Before the start of the project, it is crucial to first define the core team of employees and external service providers as well as the extended group of stakeholders. The following roles should be considered in any case, even if the internal roles might change during the course of the project. 


Specialist requesters: experts from the various departments 

Assuming that the implementation and operation of a CDP should be based on the selection and prioritization of use cases, employees from the marketing, development and e-commerce departments are indispensable experts. Their experience in the departments and the associated know-how are vital for the quality of the use cases. 

Evaluation criteria can be defined, based on which the specialist requesters can assess the progress of the project. This ensures that internal quality assurance takes place that accompanies the entire implementation process. In addition, a contact person is always available for questions and decisions. 


Project managers: interfaces between the departments 

No matter which project needs to be implemented, project managers are always an essential part of the project team. They act as an interface between the experts from the different departments – and their core task is to manage the project while always keeping an eye on deadlines, budget and quality. The best way to do this is with a well-thought-out project plan in which progress is regularly documented. 


IT architects: Experience begets good results 

IT architects as part of the core team ensure that the CDP can be integrated into the existing IT system landscape in a sustainable, highly performant and secure manner. Their main task is to integrate all necessary data sources to ensure the success of the use cases. Expert knowledge regarding data collection methods such as software development kits (SDKs), API interfaces and import mechanisms should be available so that feasibility assessments can be carried out. 

Good to know: Programmers use the so-called software development kits to develop the applications for the respective platforms. The API interfaces are used for data transfer. This ensures, for instance, that stock data can be transmitted in real time to field staff to give them an up-to-the-minute overview of the current stock levels. 


Data analysts & system owners: data situation & key contacts 

Before and during CDP implementation, data-driven decisions pave the way to success. Data analysts provide insight into the existing data situation along with answers to important questions that arise during the course of the project. However, it can be helpful to already take a closer look at data sets when defining and prioritizing use cases in order to transfer existing data models into the CDP. 

 Add to this the system owners who are important contacts, especially when integrating existing data and systems into the CDP. 


Developers: schedule early on 

Experienced developers are needed to efficiently work through the individual implementation packages during the course of the project. However, since they are usually also entrusted with other tasks and internal projects, their time should be planned and scheduled early on. It is also important to clarify the expected requirements to better estimate the time required for the different tasks. 


CDP operator: the main role 

A CDP operator is responsible for implementing the basic configuration and the underlying data model within the CDP. However, this main role in the project can also be split between two experts. The creation of the data model for the CDP is a more technical task, while a marketing or CRM manager is mainly responsible for creating the segments and customer journeys. 


Legal department: Customer data is sensitive 

The core element of any customer data platform is customer data. Constant adaptation to the existing legal requirements is therefore indispensable in order to create databases that comply with the GDPR. Customer data needs to be handled as transparently as possible. In addition, questions relating to the customer’s right to information and consent for data processing must also be clarified. GDPR experts provide valuable support to ensure that everything complies with legal requirements. 


Steering committee: critical decision-making body 

Situations may arise during which sensitive decisions need to be made. In such instances, it is advisable to have a steering committee in place. This committee consists of experts who are not involved in the project in detail, ensuring that all interests are represented and safeguarded and that decisions can be made without “project baggage”. Ultimately, however, the final decision always rests with the project sponsor or client. 


Define the project mode & let’s go! 

Once the project team is complete and everyone is scheduled for their tasks, the project mode can be defined. There are two fundamentally different options in this case. The agile project model has proven to be advantageous for CDP implementation. In this modus operandi, agile work is possible. Team members focus on individual building blocks of the project in so-called sprints. This allows for progress to be visible quickly and lets the team react flexibly to requests or altered requirements. 

This contrasts with the waterfall model, where the individual tasks are executed linearly and in successive project phases. Regardless of the approach, both methods must be based on a corresponding project plan. The project progress should be documented in this plan and presented to the extended project team – including all those mentioned above – when intermediate goals are reached.  

Once the core team has been established and the project mode defined, we can move on to the next stage: the specification.