20 Jul

Agile in Marketing – Part 2: in action

“So we thought we’d try SCRUM in marketing.The goal was to have a team that collaborated from the planning through to execution, deliver more value more rapidly and to be more responsive to a our changing environment.We still set our overall goals and broad strategies for 6-12 months, and a list of what we want to deliver.

  • We have a “backlog” of projects that is constantly re-prioritised, based on what we agree with our “client” (the business). We work in 2 1/2 week cycles (“sprints”) where we deliver either a completed project or a defined phase of a project.
  • We write exactly what we will be delivering on cards, which in turn are stuck on a white board (the scrum board) which is visible to everyone in the team, and everyone in the business.
  • The board is used to track the activity, i.e they are updated every other day (we used to do this daily, but found we didn’t need that frequency), showing the progress made and eventually moving from one side of the board (not started) to the other (completed).
  • Rather than the traditional team meetings, we have regular “stand up” meetings around the board to update each other on three basic questions: what did I do yesterday, what will I be doing today, and do I have any roadblocks in my path that stop me doing my job.
  • There is no moving the end of the sprint date; the deadline is set in stone, but if you see that certain items can’t be delivered, you can negotiate with “the client” (which in our case is essentially the business, represented by an executive)
  • At the end of a “sprint” we get together, and sometimes invite others to show what we have done, in a “”demo””, (ok, I call it “show and tell”…) The purpose is to make the achievements highly visible, and to celebrate the success.

So what have we gained from this?

  • First, we deliver more of the right things. We re-prioritise every couple of weeks, and we deliver specific outcomes at the end of every sprint.
  • Second, we have fewer distractions. Now when someone in the business comes up with the next great idea we should be executing, we put it in the “backlog” for the next sprint, and people understand that.
  • Third, we work far more as an integrated team. Everyone has ownership of the actions on the board, is aware of them right from the planning stages and feels part of the process.

What’s difficult

There are still challenges of course. For example, the planning process every week (which is critical to the delivery) is time consuming, and if you’re not careful, you either spend too much time on it, or not enough (resulting in poorly scoped projects that can’t be delivered in the sprint).We probably also have more dependencies on others for input, review, feedback and sign off than a typical software development project. This often puts our ability to execute the final product within the sprint in jeopardy.

For you?

Well, that depends on whether there is a problem to address. Why change when everything runs like clock work.For those of you who do recognise some of these marketing execution challenges, drop me a line if you want to know more about our experience.

So what’s your experience? Have you tried something similar? Do you have other ideas or questions? Keen to hear from you.