Business professor Leon C Megginson’s famous words sum up the conundrum facing a growing number of marketing leaders who are turning to agile marketing processes to help them prosper in a disrupted world: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” And just as inflexible marketing processes need updating, the project management tools teams use must be able to accommodate agile as well as traditional marketing workflows. Simple’s agile marketing software combines the visibility of a centralised marketing platform with the flexibility of an agile approach to help your team be faster and more effective.
Small marketing teams, and enterprise marketing departments who are about to begin agile marketing with a pilot project, can use Simple as their centralised, digital agile marketing tool to plan, brief, manage, approve and iterate on all marketing jobs.
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. — Leon C Megginson
When enterprise teams are ready to scale agile by rolling it out to other teams, or to external stakeholders who request materials from the marketing team, Simple provides visibility and efficiencies well beyond the physical task management boards — think post-it notes on whiteboards — that agile teams often use.
And if your team also uses traditional planning methods for some projects — say, big seasonal campaigns at set times of year — Projects in Simple are designed to handle conventional marketing processes.
Here is an end-to-end look at how you can use Simple to support your agile marketing processes.
The first step in setting up your agile marketing process is to establish your backlog — the list of marketing work your team needs to complete.
In Simple, you can create these as Jobs, and cluster and prioritize them easily by dragging and dropping.
You can create and track job types to suit all your work, such as writing a blog, creating an ad, or designing a landing page — even conducting a test.
Traditionally the traffic manager would prioritize your marketing tasks but in self-managing agile teams, whoever takes on the role of product owner, or voice of the customer, can prioritise the backlog, thus keeping the team focused on the most important tasks.
And teams that are well advanced in their agile marketing practice have the option of associating size and complexity attributes to particular jobs to enable them to measure their velocity or productivity in an agile work cycle, or sprint.
While agile marketing relies on teams working in short cycles to obtain measurable results so they can launch work, iterate and improve quickly — that doesn’t mean all planning goes out the window.
Once you have a prioritised backlog, you should translate it into a working roadmap that can helps the team and other marketing stakeholders see where it’s headed over the coming year.
You can use Simple’s Marketing Calendar to plan out your milestones and adjust your roadmap based on what happens during your regular sprints.
Alignment and customer focus
A key principle of agile philosophy is that each task or project should start with a user story, written in the voice of the customer, to focus the team and their work on the customer’s needs.
User stories and campaign briefs can be attached to Jobs in Simple, just as they can be attached to more complex, traditional marketing Projects, and will be carried through their various iterations.
That means team members who start work on a particular marketing task can see instantly what’s required of them.
Using Simple’s agile marketing software helps to ensure all your marketing jobs remain aligned both to your company’s core business objectives and to customer needs in both agile teams and traditional teams.
You can also customise these forms in Simple, which helps centralised marketing teams ensure external stakeholders who might request materials of the marketing team provide all the information required.
There’s no doubt better alignment will increase the speed to market of your team and reduce the need to re-brief marketing tasks or re-do creative work.
That is one of the promises of agile marketing.
Simple can also help agile teams create customer journeys and build repeatable templates for the work you undertake regularly so that always-on activity can be completed fast and painlessly.
This approach can also help teams streamline and increase the pace of the high-tempo testing that can lead to rapid improvement in agile marketing teams.
For teams using Scrum methodology — or working in defined sprints anywhere from one week to six weeks long — due dates help keep the team focused on producing completed work in the required timeframe.
And when you estimate the size and complexity of your tasks, and attribute those scores to your marketing work in Simple, it’s easy to track improvements in work process and see how well your team is performing.
Transparency, visibility and ownership are crucial foundations for success in agile philosophy.
Using Simple’s Workflow view — our equivalent of the whiteboard and post-it note system — anyone involved with marketing can request work or track the progress of a job all the way through marketing from briefing to completion.
That means requestors and managers can see where jobs are at a glance, by accessing this centralised visual task management board.
And the team itself can easily identify bottlenecks and obstacles, or projects that are lagging, helping them to trouble-shoot issues quickly and maintain momentum.
This is particularly useful when individual team members are offsite, for teams that are not co-located, and even when teams are spread throughout different locations in one building and can’t get easy access to your physical kanban or scrum board.
And suppliers — such as creative agencies — can supply work for review without fear of it languishing, unreviewed, in someone’s email inbox.
Simple’s Workflow view is designed to work for agile marketing teams that may be using Scrum, Scrumban or Kanban methodology to manage their work by timeframe or by capacity.
Jobs can easily be moved from To Do to In Progress, In Review and finally, to Done.
One of the core tenets of agile philosophy is that teams should be self-sufficient.
That means ensuring the necessary skills base is covered within the team as far as possible, reducing the team’s reliance on outside suppliers and minimising exposure to delays due to reasons beyond the team’s control.
This is not always possible in marketing — particularly for enterprise teams — which typically work with design agencies, creative agencies, digital agencies, media agencies — the list goes on.
But once a campaign asset has been completed and approved, Simple’s Library — or digital asset manager (DAM) — performs an important function as the central asset repository, or single source of truth for completed work.
That means marketing departments with in-house creative teams can access, adjust, and re-use approved work quickly, without waiting for it to be re-supplied, boosting speed to market and agility.
For external stakeholders wishing to repurpose existing work, it provides a similar benefit.
The goal in agile marketing teams is to deliver completed output via short work cycles.
But when so many team members, suppliers and approvers can be involved in completing a single marketing task, it can be difficult to identify exactly where any bottlenecks are, know when a task has been approved and ensure your team has met its definition of ‘Done’.
Simple tracks briefs and revised briefs, as well as versions of assets and revisions. Our system automatically captures and identifies things like the date work was submitted, whether it was re-briefed, how many versions an asset went through, and how much work a team completed in a given cycle.
Marketing work can be tracked by job type, channel, size, volume, team, geography, customer persona or approver: the possibilities are vast.
And clear approvals processes mean Simple can ensure your completed output always meets your team’s definition of ‘Done’.
That provides clear visibility into any holdups or recurring issues to help your agile marketing team complete as much work as it can, as efficiently as possible.
Analytics in Simple ensure your agile marketing team has access to the key metrics you need to know if your marketing is working.
Data integrations with our agile marketing software can ensure your team can see in near-real time how a campaign is performing without having to request customised reports.
In-app reporting means your team is focused on the metrics that matter, and responding quickly, instead of being paralysed by data overload.
Automating workflows in Simple can support the rapid iteration and continuous improvement enshrined in agile principles.
Templates can be created to ensure successful projects involving complex processes can be repeated quickly.
And when it comes to small tasks that must be completed in order — for example: hypothesis – test – results – conclusion – implementation – new hypothesis — dependencies can be created that ensure process is followed.
The retrospective is a crucial aspect of agile marketing, in which teams self-assess their progress during the sprint and attempt to identify how they can improve it in the next sprint.
Simple’s team analytics can help your marketing team benchmark its productivity and velocity, identify strengths and opportunities for improvement, and help you streamline your agile marketing processes.
That completes the agile marketing loop, ensuring your team is focused on internal improvements as well as marketing results.