Every marketing team eventually finds its own rhythm when it comes to working with Scrum. However, it does help to read about different perspectives and trials from other teams who’ve already been there.
To help you get started with Scrum for Marketing, we put together a short list of common mistakes and how to overcome them.
1. Partially adopting Scrum
Although the original methodology in itself can seem complicated and full of foreign notions, it’s important that you get the full picture and understand everything you can before starting to create your own version. Because the “parent” industry of Scrum and Agile is software development, some concepts may seem difficult to translate into Marketing. However, they all come together and the only way to make it work is to fully understand how they are linked to each other.
Let’s take a Sprint, for example. A Sprint is a timeframe in which you set out to accomplish the tasks (Stories) in your Backlog. Without this time-boxed event, you can’t organize your Backlog, you can’t follow-up progress and you can’t conduct the essential Daily Stand-up Meetings.
Not including an event or a concept can render the methodology useless. If you’re just starting out with Scrum for Marketing, it’s best that you try to apply it following its original model, keeping transparency and identifying opportunities to improve the Scrum process as you go.
2. Disregarding meeting consistency
Keeping in mind the previous example - Sprints - you need to ensure consistency and predictability when it comes to planning meetings, daily stand-ups and sprint retrospectives.
This is the only way you’ll achieve results with Scrum. Assign a Scrum Master that can keep the team on track, make sure it follows the rules and that meetings are held. He/she will monitor Sprints’ structure and identify improvement points for the team.
If you implement Scrum meetings correctly, you won’t need other time-consuming meetings that drain your productivity.
3. “Everything is a priority”
Wouldn’t that be great? Actually, no. If everything is a priority you’re destabilizing both your team and your workflow. There’s a reason why a priority is a priority - to differentiate it from other tasks. You need to plan accordingly. Know how things fit into the bigger scheme of the Backlog so that you plan for your resources.
Once a sprint is underway, the team must resist taking on any additional work. It’s the scrum master’s role to prevent stakeholders from adding work during the sprint. I know, when it comes to marketing projects this can be difficult, after all, everything is urgent.
To prevent this, think about adjusting the timeframe of your sprints. With new clients we often run one week sprints, giving us the opportunity to find a rhythm and then stretch out the sprint length. Invest time in grooming your backlog - keep what you need, cut what doesn’t need to be there. Prioritize critical stories that add value to your goals and remove stories that are no longer valid.
4. Not having a common definition of “done”
This is one of the most challenging aspects, ‘done’ can mean an idea, a draft or a published eBook. The definition of ‘done’ has to be a universally agreed-upon criterion that the team as a whole understands. You can have different versions of ‘done’ for different stories, as long as everyone knows what they are.
For example, when publishing an eBook you can have a checklist that you can reference every time you create a new story:
- Content Draft
- Visual Material
- Content Draft 2
- Publishing = Done
Each story can have a checklist of its own so long as the team knows what that is and when it’s ‘done’.
5. Missing the point of Scrum
Always analyze and adapt. Easy enough but it’s really hard to stay true to this basic philosophy once you’re under a pile of stories and tasks, team frustrations and many, many deadlines. Try to keep it as simple and as efficient as possible. As Agile as possible.
Every event in your Scrum way of working should be governed by transparency and adaptation. Always look for opportunities to improve and increase efficiency.
That’s it for us. What’s your experience with Scrum for Marketing and what would you advise other marketing teams who are just getting started?