Did you know that 78 percent of IT professionals think they work collaboratively with marketing, but only 58 percent of marketers agree that is the case? While this statistic from eConsultancy illustrates an interesting difference in IT and marketing perspectives, one thing is clear – today, IT and marketing must work together to achieve business goals.

Creativity has always been at the core of great marketing. But unlike many of their predecessors in years past, CMOs and other marketing heads today are also likely to be tech savvy, which now makes them more natural partners for their tech counterparts. This sets the stage for an easier alignment between IT and marketing than in the past, but there are there are still best practices for getting it right.

1. Respect differences. Despite now being more similar than ever, IT and marketing still are very different business functions that attract very different types of people. Marketing focuses on driving revenue and customer retention while IT’s priorities center on data security, avoiding risk and ensuring systems function as expected. When aligning your IT and marketing teams, it’s important to respect these differences. Acknowledge the expertise and traits that each side brings to the table and formulate a plan for how to best utilize these strengths and knowledge for success.

2. Conduct an audit. What technologies are in place? What systems are on the implementation to-do list? Who owns what? Who has access to what data? These are just some of the questions you will want to address when aligning IT and marketing. It’s also important to document current processes that exist between the two departments. While these may change as the two teams align more closely with one another, knowing where everything stands at present will help both parties determine if that’s the most effective way to move forward in the future.

3. Create a shared vision. While conducting an audit of the present state of the IT and marketing relationship, take the time to map out what the future holds as well. Discuss how working together will help the organization achieve its goals, as well as those of each department and even each team member. Create a shared vision for the future of the working relationship and what can be accomplished together, and define the steps required to get there.

4. Agree on roles and responsibilities. Problems between IT and marketing sometimes arise from disagreements regarding who takes the lead on a given project or process. Take steps to stop these conflicts in their tracks by defining and documenting roles and responsibilities for the two teams and their individual members. Be rigid enough in these definitions that things don’t fall through the cracks, causing frustrations to mount, but flexible enough in your approach that you can make changes to accommodate organizational growth or changes. Also, be sure that IT and marketing have equal opportunities for leadership in their interactions so they can form a true partnership.

5. Meet regularly. In many organizations, IT and marketing aren’t in the habit of meeting regularly. However, it’s exactly this type of communication that will bring about alignment. The meetings don’t have to be as frequent as weekly, but often enough that they become established and expected – monthly will work well for most organizations. The agenda can be flexible, but be sure that empathy plays a part in the discussions. Each team should strive to better understand the pressures faced by the other as well as current priorities and those on the horizon. Even if what’s discussed has nothing to do with one another on the surface, it’s all part of deepening understanding, resolving problems, and ultimately aligning IT and marketing.