Should marketers get more technical

Last month I decided I wanted to get the Sitecore Professional Developer Certification.  A pretty standard professional development step for someone that works with Sitecore for a living.  Except, I’m not a developer; I’m a marketer.   Sitecore says this about the Sitecore Professional Developer course,  

‘This course is for experienced ASP.NET developers who want to learn how to customize Sitecore® Experience Platform™ solutions. Learners should have a basic understanding of .NET web applications including C# and LINQ.’  

I don’t fit that description.  I can’t write lick of C# code.  I know only the most basic Visual Studio functions and I’d be hard pressed to debug anything in code.  And, that’s fine, because I’m never going to be a developer.  That’s not my area of focus.   

So, why get certified?  

Because, I think a marketer (a Sitecore end user) should understand how Sitecore is architected, what happens behind the scenes, and a little bit of why… I think that marketer is going to end up being a better teammate; a better customer to the development side of the house.   

How is this going to make us a better customer?  

We’ll have a more complete picture of the development landscape.  This means we’ll produce better requirements.  Developers should have less gaps to fill in.  Imagine designing a new content type for a multi-site, multi-lingual Sitecore implementation.  If an end user understands field versioning, data template inheritance, standard values and insert options, they’re going to write better requirements.  And, that should cut down on unexpected behavior that typically gets tuned during a UAT period.   

We’ll do a better job of triaging issues, which means less back & forth between developers and end users.  It also leads to less frustration and a quicker path to resolution.  

We’ll start to build a better vocabulary with the development team, which brings teams together.  It also opens the door for us (marketers) to help developers understand some of the why we’re doing what we do.  That inevitably helps them help us (Jerry Maguire) with options.   

In summary, I’m not suggesting that marketers run out and get developer certified.  That may be a little over the top.  I am suggesting that any Sitecore end users that have platform oversight responsibility or are involved in envisioning / scoping future phases of their Sitecore implementation would be well served with some technical orientation.  Become a bit of a power user.  Dive into books like ‘Practical Sitecore 8 Configuration and Strategy’.  Dig into your data templates and renderings to understand how your content is structured and how your presentation is managed.  If you invest the time to better understand how your implementation is structured and what’s possible with Sitecore XP you’ll make better decisions and have a better product in the end.