This post was originally published on the AgileSherpas blog and was written by Andrea Fryrear, Co-Founder of AgileSherpas and frequent Aprimo collaborator. It has been reposted here with permission.
One of the most central tenets of Agile is to always be focused on delivering value to your end customer (which is one of the reasons it jives so nicely with marketing).
In that spirit, our AgileSherpas (myself included) spend a lot of time sharing information on marketing agility with anybody and everybody who’ll listen.
Many of them are questions I hear quite often, so I’ve collected (and answered!) them all here. In some cases, we’ve provided very thorough answers elsewhere. In those cases, I’ll offer a short response and a link for additional exploration as needed/desired.
Don’t see your question here?
Shoot it to me at andrea [at] agilesherpas [dot] com and you can be sure the answer will find its way to our resources section!
Integrating Recurring and Project Work
How do you get everyone on board with real agility vs. continual last-minute pivots?
This is an Agile marketing question that we get very frequently. Put on your marketer hat. Identify the key pain points people are experiencing and demonstrate how Agile will solve those issues.
Where possible, document the impact frequent last-minute changes have on the work being done. For example, work in progress is left unfinished, deadlines are missed, etc. We like to say, “if you can’t fix it, visualize it.” Then, use this data to build a strong argument for true agility in your specific case.
Is Agile best for project type work OR can it help with the “always on” or “run” work and how?
Agile is for everything, and, ideally, everything blended into a single backlog. When we separate “always on” work from strategic projects, one of them almost always gets neglected.
The power of all Agile ways of working is their ability to create focused effort through strict prioritization. We need this to happen whether we’re launching a major campaign for a new product or publishing content every week. So, in short, Agile marketing makes all our work better.
Last month, I contributed a guest post to CMSWire that addresses the many pitfalls of piloting Agile ways of working only with some strategic projects, instead of applying it to all of our work item types.
Is this used for projects vs. ongoing tasks that may not be part of one project but part of the work that needs to be done during the same time as project work? Is that a different type of Kanban for one-offs?
This is similar to the question above. I wanted to answer them both because of the different ways they’re framed. What’s at the heart of this question is a sense that timeboxes, they are also known as sprints in the Scrum framework, don’t always line up to pieces of a project and other recurring tasks.
Sprints can be great for putting up guardrails around a team — “We’ll take that in the next sprint, but we don’t accept new requests mid-sprint” — but it can be challenging to section off bits of work into 2-week chunks. If that’s you, a more flow-based framework like Kanban may align more closely to how you work.
Whichever way of working you choose, don’t split your work onto multiple boards. This awesome collection of marketing kanban board examples will help you find a good way to integrate all your work together, as mentioned earlier.
Training and Education
Are there any Agile certifications you recommend?
Yes!!! We offer certifications in Agile Marketing Fundamentals (ICP-MKG) as well as Agile Marketing Leadership (ICP-LEA). All of our (live, virtual) open certification courses pop up here, so you can keep an eye out on what’s upcoming in the calendar. Designed by marketers for marketers; not software-focused, as nearly all “off the shelf” Agile certifications will be.
Don’t send everyone to Scrum Master training, because chances are they won’t be an SM or even using Scrum to run marketing projects.
I didn’t plant this one I promise 🙂
What’s the most important thing to do that a traditional project manager can start to make the transition to an Agile mindset?
Get out of deadline mode. Agile planning is more iterative and usually applies for a shorter period of time. As a result, you can easily adapt to changing circumstances without having to pull heroics.
You have to focus less on the timing of deliverables and more on getting value to the customer sooner.
In addition, make sure you connect with stakeholders and team members early and often to maintain a higher level of transparency. Doing so will also make it easier to react to changes in a timely manner together.
Do you have resources about implementing Agile practices in marketing?
For years, we have been constantly publishing free Agile marketing resources on our website. They are suitable for both people who are just getting started with Agile marketing, and adept agilists looking for a solution to a very specific problem.
Here are some good places to start:
Also, we offer a free 80-minute introduction course (it used to be $79, but it’s free forever because all marketers need agility post-COVID).
How long (on average, in your experience) should it take a newbie team member to learn Agile?
Agile is one of those things that doesn’t take long to understand but takes a while to master. A 1-day crash course should be enough to get someone up to speed on the basics, but it may be months before they’re really an integrated part of an Agile team/system.