Scrum in Marketing

The Scrum principles add an agile framework, that provides the conditions for an organization to implement ‘Lean Marketing‘ and Insights Based Marketing. They include Inspection, Transparency, Adaptation, and having Iterative and Incremental processes and practices. The below sections review how Scrum fits in the LIST Marketing Framework as I applied it at Apilio and other companies. An advantage was, that Apilio was already well set up with regards to Lean and Scrum, which gave me a head start with implementing LIST. 

A definition of Scrum

The goal of Scrum is to to have teams address complex adaptive problems and delivering products of the highest possible value in a productive and creative way. Scrum is based on the theory of empirical process control, which relies on transparency, inspection, & adaptation and is both iterative and incremental. Sources: https://www.scrumalliance.org/about-scrum/definition and https://www.scrumalliance.org/about-scrum/theory.

Scrum in action

Transparency‘To make decisions, people need visibility into the process and the current state of the product.‘ Transparency is a principle to be supported and worked on by all. For every team member, it works both ways: toward the others and from the others. At Apilio the daily short stand-up meeting and the intranet availability of all company information created an excellent basis for that.

The Apilio team was very open about the product strengths and weaknesses, as well as the market opportunities and threats. We frequently used informal meetings and coffee/lunch breaks to exchange questions and answers. From my side I gave regular updates on the work I was doing and made my marketing deliverables accessible from two angles. Not only did I store my plans, documents and deliverables under the marketing and project sections of the internal collaboration tool (Apilio uses Atlassian Confluence), I also grouped everything on a personal page that all could access.

Inspection: ‘To prevent deviation from the desired process or end product, people need to inspect what is being created, and how, at regular intervals.’ To allow inspection of the marketing plan and of the marketing project and campaigns, we used a couple of tools.

Apilio has one Backlog board with the status of all tasks and sub-tasks, which is visible to all and is maintained by all. The tasks were organized by themes that often consisted of one or more sprints. Marketing examples include the Marketing Plan, the SEO/Keyword project, the Website Makeover project, and the individual Marketing Campaigns. A good online (cloud) collaboration platform like Confluence, that allows to cross-link, review, comment, share and see (proposed) changes, or to lookup older version of a document, is another great asset for transparency and inspection. At Apilio this resulted in a better and more balanced use of email (mainly for automated review messages with links instead of attachments) and chat (mainly to consult and inform each other).

Adaptation -‘When deviations occur, the process or product should be adjusted as soon as possible.’ To succeed in 2020, the ability to adapt immediately is crucial. Even if business and marketing objectives are carved in stone, the road to achieve them should be flexible.

Therefore the marketing process has to be IterativeThis includes experimenting and A/B testing, and leads to growing experience and expertise which bring better decision making and better results. As an organisation and as a team member, one needs to be aware of the value of experience and to be set-up accordingly. Experience has four dimensions to take into account: it needs to have a minimal critical mass, it needs to be gained fast, it needs to be built continuously and it needs to grow over time.

This leads to another imporant aspect of Scrum in Marketing. The marketing process and the company culture also have to be Incremental. Therefore the time horizon of the marketing plan needs to flexible. Where the business objectives and certain marketing goals and tactics justify a longer horizon, the marketing plan is best split up into subplans that can be easily adjusted, for example quarterly plans.

Another consequence is that every team member has to work insights based and is able to refresh those insights through accurate and actual metrics. At Apilio I spent relatively much time on finding internal and external intelligence, that could bring me those insights. I also set-up a number simple of business dashboards, and did regular deep dives into the results, to understand metrics and the immediate impact of marketing activities.

Cultural implications of Scrum

Being transparent, open to inspection and adaptive, requires, that one is not strict about a certain set-up, formulation or way of doing things, but is lead by the evolving insights from data sources and from team members. Both inside the organization and in the partner ecosystem, a culture that encourages to be vulnerable, to trust each other, and to with the Scrum principles, will bring optimal collaboration.

Blog about a practical implementation of the LIST Marketing Framework:

The 25-day Marketing Plan with the LIST Marketing Framework – How Lean, Insights and Scrum can make your marketing Thrive

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