Scrum is an Agile framework, originally formalized for complex software development projects. It is also a useful methodology for delivering innovative, digital marketing strategies.
The philosophy behind Agile can be applied to a number of industries. Its core principles are aimed at fluidizing business processes and increasing efficiency. Scrum is the leading Agile delivery framework, a team-based approach geared toward creating business value. Marketers can use Scrum to organize marketing teams so that they become self-sufficient and deliver great results in a shorter amount of time.
In the past years, marketing teams evolved to be ever more fast, more adaptable and more creative, establishing Agile marketing as a new way of organizing performing teams that deliver great results.
In our team, we’ve adopted the Agile way of doing marketing, using the Scrum methodology, because it fits perfectly with the inbound approach and here’s why:
Scrum marketing is based on self-organizing teams
Teams with a highly developed entrepreneurial spirit that enables them to manage themselves. Each individual is responsible for their own progress and their own results, gaining ownership over their work. Teams make decisions as they go and can function with a high level of autonomy, some say as if they were a distinct company.
Since they are already used to managing their own budgets and making decisions, marketers can strongly relate to the self-organizing nature of Scrum.
It uses visual management
One of the great advantages of adopting this methodology in marketing teams is that it promotes visual management, making it easier for the communicative, energetic marketing people to organize their work and collaborate. Studies have shown that it takes only 150ms for us to process an image, and then another 100ms for us to attach any meaning to it.
The results are also more transparent and easy to follow on the Scrum board.
When you can visualize the steps in your workflow, you can immediately start to find areas for improvement or ways to eliminate wasteful steps.
The Scrum process is logical and easy-to-follow
Any marketing initiative can be organized in a project Backlog, which is a list of marketing tasks requested by the client/business owner or developed by the marketing team in order to achieve the goals they’ve set. Every social media campaign, eBook, white paper, blog––every bit of work the team does––comes from the backlog.
In Scrum, marketing tasks are referred to as stories, short descriptions of the work that needs to be done. To keep stories manageable, teams assign Story points to every story, reflecting the complexity of every marketing task and enabling to get better at estimating the time or effort required to finish a task, for instance it takes our team 8 effort points to produce a blog post. Knowing this, we are able to plan more accurately the amount of amount of work we can deliver each sprint.
Once you have your backlog prioritized, you can start planning your sprints. Typically Sprints lengths are between 1- 4 weeks, running consecutively; for us 2 weeks sprints are the best fit.
Each of our sprints begins with a sprint planning session to produce a series of stories that we bring On Deck for that sprint. These are stories from the backlog that the account owner has identified as being the most important items of work to increment the marketing strategy. Throughout the sprint, team members will pick up stories from the On Deck column, and complete the piece of work.
Daily Scrum meetings are used to keep track of what’s been done. These are short, 15-30 min meetings that allow each member to go through their tasks by answering 3 questions:
- What did I do yesterday?
- What will I do today?
- Are there any obstacles that stand in my way? / Do I need help with anything?
At the end of every sprint, the Scrum team and stakeholders review the sprint to see what went well and how things unfolded.
Typically, our review process consists of the following:
- An overview of the marketing campaign increment. For example, our goal this sprint has been to create the foundation of an Agile Marketing campaign that will run for the coming 6 months; this blog post, an eBook and a LinkedIn advertising campaign are our sprint goals to be reviewed at the end of the sprint.
- A discussion of what team members observed during the sprint, or perhaps campaign and marketing ideas that came to mind.
- A discussion about the state of the backlog, possible completion dates and what might be done by those dates.
- An update of the project backlog.
Sprint Retrospective - At the end of the sprint we also take time to reflect on the sprint. Typically, this means a 30 minutes review of how the sprint went, including communication, teamwork and estimation. We try to find one area of potential improvement to focus on every sprint, as we keep trying to calibrate our way of working.
Find out more about Scrum for marketers in our latest eBook!
Image credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg