Learn how Agile frameworks can optimize marketing teams’ workflows and results. Take the first step by discussing Agile principles with your team.
This article discusses how marketing teams can adopt Agile methodologies to become more efficient, innovative and customer-centric. The authors explain the core principles of Agile – iterative development, frequent delivery, collaboration and responding to change. They note marketing projects have unique challenges due to dependencies, but Agile principles of prioritizing work, short iterations and continuous feedback still apply.
The article outlines steps marketing teams can take like establishing OKRs, forming product-focused squads, planning in 2 week sprints, conducting daily standups and demos. Metrics for success include velocity, lead generation and customer satisfaction. Case studies show how Intuit, Cisco and Microsoft marketing teams successfully restructured using Agile techniques.
Adopting Agile requires changes to culture and mindset rather than just processes. It promotes experimentation, transparency and aligning priorities across the organization. While a transition takes effort, Agile helps marketing evolve strategy faster based on customer and market signals. The article provides actionable guidance for marketing teams seeking more agility.
Marketing, business, management, strategy, communication, leadership, entrepreneurship, technology, collaboration, change management
Despite agile pods helping marketing teams deliver better outcomes, many organizations are struggling to make the switch to agile. Agile pods can help you boost collaboration, efficiency and your ROI, but it’s easy to lose momentum if you don’t manage the transition properly. Gain insights from Boston Consulting Group research into how to respectfully integrate the efforts of agile and non-agile teams, without overloading workers with unnecessary processes. Discover how to manage the increased pace of agile, while preventing burnout and inspiring workers to take ownership of their new roles.
- Make agile processes work for you – don’t obsess over doing everything by the book.
- Carefully manage workloads to integrate agile and non-agile teams without losing momentum.
- Prevent worker burnout, as you adjust to the new pace of agile.
Make agile processes work for you – don’t obsess over doing everything by the book.
While agile marketing pods can help companies boost efficiency and collaborative decision-making, organizations often struggle to implement agile solutions, due to cumbersome, hierarchical marketing structures. To make the switch to agile pods more seamless at your organization, it’s better to adopt streamlined agile-inspired solutions that work for you than stick too rigorously to specific agile processes and ceremonies that will likely overwhelm people. It’s OK, for example, to allocate three weeks for a sprint, allowing team members to manage progress at their own pace, creating time frames that slightly differ from official agile ones. Likewise, there’s no need to overschedule meetings simply because you’re trying to mirror agile processes. Consider consolidating agile pods with similar themes to reduce the number of meetings, switching meeting discussions to platforms such as Teams and Slack when possible. When you do set meetings, set your desired outcome beforehand, ensuring all team members fully understand the point of the meeting.
“Empowering team members to take ownership of their work increases their motivation, engagement and productivity, which creates better organizational outcomes.”
To function efficiently, agile teams must be cross-functional and self-organizing, in that team members must plan, execute and deliver work together. As you make the switch to agile, don’t be surprised if not all team members initially feel comfortable taking ownership of their work. Empower team members to take ownership of work by clarifying each person’s role and responsibilities. For example, it’s important that teams specify who will sign off on finished work. Without such clarity, you may find that your agile pod feels like “a wheel that spins faster but never gains traction.” You’ll create better organizational outcomes if you establish clear governance, while nurturing a culture in which trust, open communication and collaboration can thrive.
Carefully manage workloads to integrate agile and non-agile marketing teams without losing momentum.
Once your agile marketing pod gains efficiency and increases the pace of innovation, it can be hard to collaborate effectively with non-agile partners, vendors and agencies who are working at a slower pace. An agile team working in two-week sprints may struggle to collaborate with external agencies that need lead times of several weeks, for example. This disconnect will likely result in projects losing momentum, if your organization fails to properly manage agile work efforts.
“By tracking progress and knowing who is working on what projects, the organization can assess team capacities, identify bottlenecks, and respond quickly with a reallocation of resources.”
It’s essential that your organization has a system in place that provides a clear overview of all active projects, tracking the progress of each and identifying who is working on what. This way, you can easily spot bottlenecks and reallocate resources when necessary. Respectfully integrate agile and non-agile teams by giving non-agile teams advanced warning about deadlines, then deploying agile teams at the end of projects. However, your organization should communicate that this transition period is only temporary: Ultimately, non-agile teams will need to adjust to respect the pace of agile teams.
Prevent worker burnout, as you adjust to the new pace of agile.
If a worker excels at delivering a certain type of work, it may seem logical to keep loading him or her with more of this work, with the hope of leveraging the individual’s strengths to boost performance and efficiency. However, constantly performing the same type of work can lead to disengagement, dissatisfaction and burnout. Workers thrive when they’re learning new things, and when work becomes overly repetitive, they often begin to feel detached from the broader organizational vision.
“Marketing organizations should treat learning and development as priorities, not options, by varying tasks and incentives.”
Prevent burnout and disengagement by varying incentives and tasks. For example, perhaps you ask an agile team member to focus on a different product line or customer segment, which in turn helps keep work challenging and gives the worker an opportunity to build new skills. It’s also beneficial to sometimes shift the composition of pods, every six months to a year, as this gives workers new collaboration opportunities. Don’t make more work the only reward for good work: Consider offering workers other incentives, such as public praise and extra time off. While investing in new agile team processes and structures comes with a learning curve, if you commit to making agile stick, you’re likely to see improved performance and ROI, given that agile marketing teams can run more personalized and targeted campaigns with more frequency.
About the Authors
Shelby Senzer, Raakhi Agrawal, Mitch Colgan and Siwei He are professionals with Boston Consulting Group.
Read the full aritlce at Making Agile Work in Marketing