Let’s face it. Marketing teams are known for taking on too much and then racing to meet their deadlines—or extended deadlines. And, we’re often guilty of being people pleasers.
Well… we’re getting into a new groove here at Ephox by implementing a new way of managing our projects with a concept called Agile Marketing. And we’re doing so by taking a page from our software development friends who’ve been using Agile methodology for quite some time.
That sounds fine and dandy if you knew just what Agile really means!
Like most other organizations that employ this approach, the marketing team at Ephox had to do just a little bit of research and figure this concept out on our own before incorporating it into our small group. We soon realized there wasn’t a heck of a lot of information out there to benchmark against.
That said, we eventually came to realize that Agile Teams are nothing more than existing teams of employees who are simply charged with breaking traditional tasks, roles and responsibilities into smaller increments that don’t require long-term planning. One initiative that I’ll get to later on is how we incorporated ‘sprints’ into this process to get our projects done in bite-sized chunks.
Sounds easy enough, right?
As Agile Teams began to establish themselves within two departments of Ephox, the benefits of such teams became quite apparent.
Top Five Benefits of Agile Marketing Teams
- Increased productivity. With tasks being viewed in much shorter periods (two weeks), the tasks at hand became less intimidating. This makes our Marketing and Software teams more willing to take on tasks because they seem manageable.
- Boosted client satisfaction. Since our internal customers (e.g., leadership, sales, product management) are getting progress updates on a more regular basis, they are able to better see the value we’re delivering.
- Internal transparency. Since we now break up projects into small and more manageable chunks, anyone can better see what we got on our plates.
- Better dashboard reporting. Using an Agile Planning software tool from Atlassian called Jira Agile, we’re now able to better measure results as well as determine what’s working and what’s not.
- It’s so 2013! No, not really. We like to consider ourselves ‘with the times,’ but this fifth benefit is that it’s actually pretty cool to be able to talk more about what we’re working on – on a smaller scale – and share any challenges/red flags much quicker and easier than with the traditional team method.
By now, hopefully you have a good understanding of what an Agile Team is what it does, but what the heck is that ‘sprint’ I mentioned earlier? And what does it have to do with Agile Teams?
Well, I’m glad you asked! If you want the boring definition, Wikipedia defines it as, “a “time-boxed” effort (e.g., it is restricted to a specific duration). The duration is fixed in advance for each sprint and is normally between one week and one month.”
But when used by Ephox’s Marketing team, an Agile sprint is much more. Our group works within biweekly sprints to get our project work done more efficiently and on time. By incorporating fixed stops and forced deadlines into more compartmentalized timeframes, we’re already seeing dramatic improvements in our work. And for a department that is traditionally known for taking on too much, and then missing deadlines, this is quite an achievement!
Why Agile Teams Work
As is expected any time change is introduced, we faced some skepticism when Agile Teams were first introduced. But, that was short-lived. When it became apparent to us that this lean approach to project management would actually improve our day-to-day work-life, buy-in was quick and permanent. We really love that the more frequent (but shorter) meetings (touch bases) are much easier to swallow than the old-fashioned, drawn-out 1.5 hour weekly project updates that we were used to.
Not only that, it’s helped Ephox’s bottom line by increasing the velocity of our Marketing and Software development teams, and increasing customer satisfaction at the same time.
Do you think Agile Marketing Teams would work in your organization? If not, why not? What do you see as the pros and cons to an approach that deviates from the traditional team-based approach to project management?