Agile has been around the software world for a few decades, but now marketers are getting on board – with a few modifications.
I’ve had the pleasure of helping companies in both software and marketing transition to agile. Today I’ll share with you some ways that I’ve seen first-hand how marketers have made agile more relevant to how they work.
The agile marketing manifesto
The Agile Manifesto was a collaborative effort between a group of software developers written in 2001 to combat a lot of problems they were experiencing such as a divided relationship between business partners and software developers, a process that was more important than people and rigid planning that wasn’t always in the customers’ best interest.
This has long been the epicenter of agility and a commonly referenced document. However, it’s pretty software specific, so in 2012 a group of marketing evangelists came together to reinvent the manifesto to closer resonate with the marketing world.
The Agile Marketing Manifesto speaks to marketers about creating value for customers, adaptive and iterative campaigns, being experimental and learning through a build-measure-feedback loop.
A hybrid approach to methodology
In software, the Scrum framework has been the most common way to practice agile. With Scrum, teams work in a timebox called a sprint. The most common sprint cycle is two weeks. The Scrum cycle is a repetitive, continuous way to work and has built-in ways to inspect and adapt your work and your process along the way.
Another popular framework is Kanban, which came from the manufacturing world at Toyota. This production system way of working is about the continuous flow of work through a system, visualizing your work, seeing where your flow might be experiencing bottlenecks and changing your process to increase productivity.
Kanban has branched out of the manufacturing world and has been used as another method for applying agility to an organization. It’s commonly used for customer service teams, business teams and even in people’s personal lives to manage their small business or home life.
Most marketers are using a hybrid approach, meaning they are taking some of their favorite practices from both the Scrum and Kanban methods.
So which method is right for your company? It depends on the size of your company, the type of work you do and the current culture.
Here are some common traits I’ve seen that work well with Kanban:
- Smaller, more nimble companies
- Work that supports multiple clients, such as ad agency teams or creative services teams
- Work that has a very quick turnaround times and can’t stick to a plan for a week or more
- A culture that is very free flowing and lacks process
Scrum might be the better choice for you if these characteristics resonate better:
- Larger companies with multiple teams
- Work that has typically followed a waterfall planning process
- Work that can be planned with few interruptions for a few weeks
- A culture that is process-driven
The hybrid approach works well for marketers because many of them feel Scrum is too structured and Kanban is too loose. They only way to know for sure is to be agile about how you approach this change, try out a few different ways and see what works best for your company.
A single marketing owner
Agile marketers are often abandoning the traditional Scrum roles of Scrum Master and product owner and are combining this into a single role that takes on both responsibilities.
A marketing owner has a big responsibility to work with customers and stakeholders, prioritize the work for the team and continually change the plan as more information is learned from experimentation. This role also helps the team with its process, becomes the organizational evangelist for change and keeps the team empowered and productive.
A big reason for the combination of roles is the Scrum Master role is new, companies don’t realize the value and Scrum Masters don’t come cheap.
I don’t think all agile marketers need a Scrum Master, but larger companies that are going through a major culture change should make this investment if you’re going to practice Scrum.
I hope you’ve learned how agile marketers are working. Now it’s up to you to decide how you’ll practice agile marketing at your organization.
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