In prior articles, I made the case for Agile marketing and discussed the concept of capacity as it relates to Agile marketing, along with how to maximize a marketing team’s productivity. In this article, I will attempt to bring it all together and look at the roles, ceremonies and artifacts of Agile.
Simply stated, as a methodology for driving execution in business, Agile uses people (roles), processes (ceremonies) and tools (artifacts) to align and optimize resources to get work done in a given period of time.
In terms of Agile methodologies, I prefer Scrum. In my opinion and personal experience, it provides the best alignment of resources and is the most measurable and accountable methodology. I prefer it to others, such as Kanban and Scrumban. There are plenty of resources available online to do a deeper dive if you want to learn more about any of these Agile methodologies.
Agile Roles And The People On The Team
There are three roles on an Agile marketing team: product owner, Scrum master and implementer.
To maximize their effectiveness, Agile teams are generally kept small and nimble with no more than eight to 10 people per team. Recall Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, and his example of the “two-pizza team”: “If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large.” For larger marketing departments, you can configure multiple Agile teams, and it is a good idea to have more than one person trained as a Scrum master to facilitate those additional teams or act as a backup.
Successful teams embrace the ideas of accountability and transparency, meaning that the team takes responsibility for how the work gets done. They also have broad latitude in the ability to pick from a prioritized backlog for work.
After the team chooses what they will work on, they commit to that work and its completion during the “sprint.” Transparency comes from the use of workflow visualization, daily standups and sprint reviews.
Each role on the team has a specific purpose:
• In the context of marketing, the product owner is usually the marketing leader.
• Responsible for the team’s priorities.
• Defines what “done” looks like as it relates to campaigns and projects.
• Accepts or rejects the team’s work results.
• Often a senior member of the marketing team.
• Facilitates and coordinates the team’s process and serves the team.
• Reduces friction and clears obstacles.
• Shields the team from distractions and runs the ceremonies.
• Individual team member working alone or together with other teammates.
• Works cross-functionally.
• Executes and delivers the work on the priorities.
• Free to deliver on the definition of “done” as they see fit.
Agile Ceremonies: The Process Of Facilitating The Work
The ceremonies provide the process to execute the workflow. This includes sprint planning, daily progress updates and, at the end of a sprint, a review of the work completed and team retrospective to look for ways to continuously improve.
Sprint Planning Meeting (60-90 minutes prior to the sprint)
• The team selects from the prioritized backlog of marketing work to pull into the sprint.
• The team decomposes work into tasks and estimates how long it will take to complete various actions.
• Estimated work is aligned against the team’s available capacity to ensure resources are available
Daily Standup (‘daily Scrum’; 15 minutes per day during the sprint)
• Provides individual accountability to the team and uncovers obstacles.
• Each team member addresses three areas: What did I do yesterday? What will I do today? What obstacles prevent me from accomplishing our goals?
Sprint Review (60-90 minutes at the end of the sprint)
• The team meets to review what work was completed during the sprint.
• Provides an opportunity for recognition and celebration.
• Allows full visibility and transparency of the work completed.
• Gives an opportunity to solicit feedback and ideas for a follow on an iteration of a project or campaign.
Sprint Retrospective (60-90 minutes at the end of the sprint)
• Only team members participate.
• Review what went well, what didn’t, and what could be done differently in the next sprint.
• These should be positive in tone because the team has the opportunity to self-adjust on areas they want to address.
A word of caution regarding the ceremonies: It has been my experience that, at the end of a sprint, the review and retrospective sometimes get rushed or ignored altogether as the team begins to focus on what has to be worked on next. Don’t ignore these two important ceremonies, as the time spent on them will add to the team’s sense of accomplishment as they celebrate the work done, and will help add to work satisfaction as they take control of how the team functions together.
Agile Artifacts: The Tools To Plan And Execute
The team utilizes three artifacts, or tools, to manage Agile workflow:
1. Product Backlog: This is a list of all the work that needs to be accomplished, prioritized and groomed by the product owner, and it’s reprioritized at the start of each sprint.
2. Sprint Backlog: This is the subset of the product backlog, and the team pulls in work of their choosing based on priorities.
3. Burndown Chart: This is the visual management of work progress, updated daily, against the sprint work commitment. In the spirit of accountability and transparency, it is open and visible for anyone to inspect and ask questions
With the combined learning of these three articles, you should have a basic understanding of Agile marketing with some key takeaways:
• Deploying Agile marketing effectively can massively increase a team’s capacity and productivity without incremental headcount.
• Capacity is a function of discipline and attention management.
• Adherence to Scrum methodology and the use of the roles, ceremonies and artifacts provide the framework to pull the workflow together to drive efficiency.
As marketing departments are being pushed to find ways to do more with less, and are pressed to better demonstrate return on investment, I strongly encourage marketing teams to consider Agile workflow. Put Agile to work. If you see continuous improvement, you are doing it correctly!