Scrum in Marketing Department
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In addition to software development, Scrum can also be implemented in a particular area such as a marketing department. As a function, marketing works around projects such as advertising campaign, emails, product research, social media, and more. Indeed, in an unstable environment, traditional project management can lead to failure if changes are too impacting and important regard to the final product. Traditional (waterfall) project management follows a well-structured long-term stage plan (often quarterly, yearly or multiple yearly).
For marketers, it is often long and heavy as a whole project is managed in one time, from the planning to the deliverable, without real flexibility and real feedback. Nowadays, marketing teams need to be more flexible and take rapid decision and annual marketing strategic planning is often a challenge. The pace of technology and marketing change too fast and the Scrum approach appears as an operational improvement. Marketing was a complicated field in the past, it is now complex as the Social Media landscape is getting harder, better, faster, stronger (Marketing Data, Marketing Analytics, Business Intelligence, Creative and Design, ...). Hundreds of companies in many different field already use Scrum with outstanding results (example: Yahoo.com, H&M, John Deere,...).
Opposite to the waterfall approach, Scrum is an iterative methodology. As the waterfall is divided into 4 phases (Plan, Produce, Deploy, Review) which can last for months and years sometimes, time to cover a whole project, the Scrum process is divided into an iterative cycle: Backlog Update, Sprint planning, Sprint which includes the Daily Stand-Up meeting, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospective. Scrum allows marketing teams to respond quickly to the market using frequent feedback due to short sprint. Indeed, a sprint is never less than 2 weeks and generally not longer than 4 weeks. Programs can be run on shorter planning measurable in weeks than with the traditional methodology, measurable in month, years. Therefore, using Scrum for marketing enables to speed up the deliverables.
There are three core roles who are committed to the Scrum process.The Product Owner, The Scrum Master and the Team. In Marketing Department, The Product Owner and the Scrum Master roles are often hold by one and unique person as a single leader. Depending on the Hierarchical Company Organization, the Product Owner and Scrum Master rôle can be handle by a Communication and Marketing V.P., a Marketing Manager or also a Marketing Director for example. In the largest Organization, it also might be possible to have multiple Scrum Teams who will be working together. In this case, a single team, composed of 2 to 3 Product Owner and Scrum Master, leads and coordinate the Scrum Teams all together. This single team will report directly to the CMO.
The Product Owner is the one who prioritize the items into the Backlog. He manages the backlog, initiates the Sprint review, plan meeting agenda and daily meetings. He can also be in charge of the budget. He is the voice of the Customer and translates the customer's need directly to the team. The Product Owner has The Vision on a project. He is responsible for the success of the deliverable. The product Owner has to work with other partners. He often decides what solution will be the best and also handles the ROI.
The Scrum Master is the one who facilitates process, as to say he is a facilitator. He can have a rôle of project manager. He often organizes the project planning and set up the Daily Stand Up Meeting, reviews, retrospectives sprint, release planning, demos and so on. The Scrum Master has the ability to understand technical issues.
The Scrum Team in Marketing will be no more than 9 people. The Team directly reports to the Product Owner. Members need to understand Customer requirements. The Marketing Scrum Team Members have the ability to deliver a product at the end of each sprint. They are Technical Experts in the Marketing field but overall they are cross functional, low overhead, self-managing and self-organizing.
The Product backlog contains the Marketing User Stories. A meeting is settled within the Scrum Marketing Team Members and will cover the subject in 2 to 4 hours maximum. This meeting allows communication, dependencies (as to say if the Marketing team has to work with an other team within or outside the company to get the job done). It is time saving as members only focus on the job that has to be done. In this meeting, members talks about the Marketing Priorities and create User Stories. The Product Backlog can contain Small, Medium, Large and/or extra-large user stories. For example “launch the new website” wont have the same size, as a user story, than the “Sales Conference Save the Date”. User Stories can have as a subject for example «deploy new Website», «Annual Sales Kit», «Sales Kick-off Meeting», «Sponsorship», «Conference», and so on. In Marketing Scrum, user stories can also be perceived as the Customer's journey. The new work is queued in the backlog for each sprint. At the beginning of the Backlog, the Marketing Manager (Product Owner and Scrum Master rôle) has to prioritize and categorize every User Story regarding the Company Marketing Strategy. As an overview, the backlog can be considered as the reflect of Marketing Strategy Prioritization. Each backlog should also reserve some points due to Marketing interruptions such as Business Trip, managing emailings and so on.
The Sprint Backlog is a list of tasks created and identified by the Scrum Marketing Team that will be completed during the Sprint. In a way, each sprint can reflects how the Marketing Strategy is performed. The Sprint backlog is commonly a spreadsheet or whiteboard in which tasks are described and the amount of hours the tasks will be done. For example, the User story on building a website could be «as a user of the Website, I want to read the company profile so that I will better know the company history and field of work». The tasks could be «design an interface solution: Day 1 8 hours, day 2 5 hours, Day 3 8 hours, Day 4 1 hours», then «code the page: day 1 8 hours, Day 2 8 hours,Day 3 8 hours, Day 4 3 hours», then «Meet Mary about the company history information» and so on. It is the responsibility of the Marketing team to decide when an iteration is ready to be “done” and to be “shared” with the Client/Customer/Stakeholders.
Sprint and daily stand-up
Sprint Duration is never longer than a month. Usually, sprint is between 2 to 4 weeks. It is long enough to get the job done and short enough to enable feedback, iteration and adaptation. Sprint involve Marketing Team Members a highly reactivity. Each sprint is an opportunity to adjust the task and stop wasting time on things that are not effective. The Daily Stand-up Meeting allows the Managers to know what is on track and the team to review what they did Day-1, what they are going to do the D-Day, and if there is any impediments on their way. The Daily Stand-up meeting implies a high level of involvement and communication of each Marketing Team Member. It is usually a stand-up Meeting between 15 minutes to One hour. The stand-up meeting can be done in person. In large companies, Marketing team are divided all around the world. Facing this situation, the Stand-up Meeting can be done by visio conference using tools such as Skype, Google Hangouts, WebEx.
Sprint review and planning
The Sprint review includes the Key Stakeholders and Managers to get Feedback. It is an opportunity for the Marketing teams to get feedback and recognition on the project they are working on. It increases visibility on the Strategic Marketing Planning and priorities. The Sprint Review is also a good way to collect feedback from the different Stakeholders. It also allows to build the next Sprint Planning using the next User Stories that are queued in the Backlog and adapt to any Marketing Strategic Change.
In order to perform in a Scrum Marketing Project, members can use those tools (list non exhaustive):
Advantages of using Scrum in marketing
Scrum allow Teams to foster constant communication. Thanks to the Scrum short cycles, teams can also be more reactive and this more quickly than with a traditional project management approach. In front of a change, Marketing Teams are more reactive and adapt themselves better to change. By doing the Scrum Daily Meetings, Marketing Members promote a complete transparency inside and outside of the team. Managers know exactly and daily what is in the process, that's to say which task and User Story the team is working on, what is in the backlog, what is done and what could be move to the next sprint. It helps to prioritize the tasks regarding the Company Marketing Strategy. Transparency helps them to coordinate within a highly dynamic environment. Transparency creates trust and also increase team performance. Moreover, teams better know on what each member works and what issue they might experience. By enhancing communication and transparency across the Marketing Department Teams, members increase their creativity and find solutions to face issues which avoids the redundancies of some common problems. Finally, by using Scrum iteration, the Marketing teams can focus on tasks, be more productive, highlight quality of the deliverables and deliver them on time. This helps increasing the Customer satisfaction.
- Chiefmartec.com, a blog by Scott Brinker
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