I worked for a company for a time that used Agile methodology for its software, design and tech development. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. It had all sorts of funny rules, nomenclature and tasks, like daily stands, scrums, points, sprints, follow-ups to sprints and so on. The first issue was that I didn’t understand it because the Marketing folks were (unintentionally) kept in the dark regarding why things were done a certain way. And because I didn’t understand what was going on ‘over there,’ I was unhappy each time a piece of my project was delivered…but not the full project.
Marketing was frustrated. Tech was frustrated, and it finally occurred to the CTO that us marketing types really had no knowledge of the process. He had the great idea to have me accompany his new development VP to an Agile conference. And I finally got it. I still thought there were odd parts to it (like during each sprint review where each person gets praised for the work they’ve done during the sprint…), but at least I understood why I kept getting pieces of my projects instead of the whole project all at once. It would have been great to have known that in advance!
When done right, there are a number of benefits from using the Agile method:
- All of the stakeholders are engaged from the start. This increases collaboration.
- Involvement. Related to collaboration, the ‘client’ is very involved in the whole process.
- Everyone understands the schedule. Delivery happens every week or two (per the schedule), and everyone knows that’s how it’s going to work.
- ‘Out’ requirements (aka backlog) can be changed as each delivery is made, without it being considered scope creep. That’s because the Client is involved and can make trade-off decisions.
- Priorities can be easily shifted.
- Costs can be better controlled.
- Tech teams seem to really like working under this method.
Once I heard that there was a new method known as Agile Marketing, I decided I had to learn more about it. I liked the sound of it, what with user stories being key to articulating needs…similar to user personas.
Testing is a key component to effective marketing. And because of that, it lends itself perfectly to Agile. Constant and frequent change based on testing is key to success for a Marketer. Tweet that! Acting fast and reacting to change is what Marketers do.
The philosophy behind Agile Marketing is not that you’re working faster. Rather, it’s about constant delivery and iteration to deliver better results. And that’s done by effective prioritization and reprioritization based on the outcomes of each sprint. Direction is clear, and approach can be adapted. It does sound like a great way to manage a lot of work.
Oh, and that reference to the chicken and the pig above? There’s an old fable about a chicken and pig discussing what to name their new restaurant. The chicken suggests ‘Ham ‘n Eggs,’ but the pig doesn’t like that name. The pig has a pretty big sacrifice in that meal, but the chicken, less so. In other words, the pig is committed, while the chicken is just involved. Even though the fable is no longer included in the official Scrum process, both of these animals still may have roles assigned in the Agile environment. Pigs are committed and accountable to the project. Chickens are referred to as consultants and are kept informed on the project’s progress.
If you are an Agile Marketer, please share your experiences of how you’ve made it work. And, I would love to hear how you manage the annual budgeting process in an Agile environment to allow for change. I plan to write a follow-up post detailing the specifics of moving a specific project through the Agile process.