This is a guest post from Josh Hill, author of the Marketing Rockstar Guides blog on demand generation. He is currently Marketo Practice Lead at Perkuto, a marketing automation agency.

When I first joined the marketing automation world in 2010, I was excited about bringing in a more regular process for managing leads as well as more automation to handle that process. But what I was not ready for was the tidal wave of changes required to make the lead lifecycle work across Salesforce and Marketo.

Since then, I have enjoyed being a part of dozens of marketing automation implementations.

The single biggest lesson? Think through the implications of everything marketing automation can touch. If you can successfully do this by following these five tips, you will be a great marketing automation administrator.

1. Put Data First

Data is the foundation upon which your CRM and marketing automation systems are built, so it is logical that you pay attention to the data that is in these systems as well as the processes and workflows that you’re building around them. Creating a data quality report each month is a good way to highlight gaps – and success – in your house list. To that end, have a set of data rules for your team. I developed the Six Principles of Marketing Automation Data. Know them and practice them.

2. Collaborate with Other Teams

In spite of its name, marketing automation touches multiple departments, especially Sales.  Getting input and buy-in from Sales and other departments is an absolute must. As you begin to map out your implementation or change plan, make sure that you’re scheduling time with an experienced person from each department. There’s no need to try to compensate for their experience when you can download their knowledge and incorporate their feedback into your planned system.

3. Create Process Visualizations

Outside of your cubicle, could anyone else understand what you have done? If you decide to leave on vacation or move to another firm, your current firm will be terribly confused. But what is worse is if you can’t remember your own work and reasons for building the system a certain way.

Top administrators create detailed diagrams, which help relay the big picture to your entire organization quickly and efficiently.  Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words, and a process chart is worth a two hour meeting. Charts help you discuss suggested improvements and receive faster approval.

Take time to map out existing processes, workflows, teams, and your desired end state. Marketing automation can be a catalyst for change, but successful change requires careful planning.

From a simple whiteboard exercise to Visio to LucidChart, I use them all.

4. Know Your Systems

You might assume an Administrator knows his or her system. Go beyond simply knowing Marketo or Eloqua. Know your instance inside and out. And know how it works with your CRM, your website, and your product. People look to you for solutions and you should be able to articulate one, even if you cannot implement all of it alone.

5. Administrators are Guardians and Teachers

Much like a server system administrator or a Salesforce Administrator, you have three key responsibilities. First, you are the steward and guardian of a working and living system that must be monitored constantly. You authorize users as a gatekeeper. Second, when you allow in other marketers, you are their teacher. You must nurture their skills and teach them how to do their job well and without causing harm to the system. Third, you are responsible for the data and workflows. Changes to the system must be well considered, communicated, and executed without causing disruption to staff, business, and customers.

Are you a marketing automation administrator? Share your thoughts here.