Part II – Implementing Agile Marketing – Modifications

My last posting talked about our road to agile marketing.  In this posting, I will cover the differences we saw between classic agile and our agile marketing to make it all work.

When I studied how software development teams work, I noticed there were some differences with how our marketing organization was set up compared to an engineering team that would require modifications to classic agile.

First, our marketing team tended to be more specialized than a software development team. Whereas a software team might have a collection of programmers who all knew the same language and could be somewhat interchangeable on tasks, our team was specialized. So the concept of hours in the total sprint was interesting, it was more important to be able to understand hours by person.

Second, our marketing team supported four business groups. The team has assigned product marketing managers and market managers for each business group, but our digital arts team that does PPC, social, email marketing etc. was shared. In addition, other groups in the team such as partner marketing and our operations team are also shared.

So the concept of a single Agile project that everyone participated in doing stand ups just didn’t seem to make sense.   Instead, we settled on the fact that we are running about six different parallel projects every sprint. Each business unit had a project, plus the operations team, and the digital arts group. Tasks that were run to directly support a business unit were always run in the business units project. Tasks, such as global capability increase for email marketing, would be run in the digital arts.


Since the business unit teams are what generate revenue, the leaders of these projects are always top priority for the organization. We never forget that we are here to support the business units.

Finally, while writing user stories is an interesting part of Agile for development teams doing software coding, sometimes they worked for us, but many times they did not. Rather than write stories for a specific feature, we tended to use epics as the holding cell for project for a team. For example, if one of the business units wanted to do a competitive take out campaign they would create an epic called “Beat ACME”. Beneath this epic all the tasks associate with this epic would be stored. We would move tasks into the appropriate sprint as the Beat ACME program moved forward.

Now that we have discussed how we modified agile, in our next posting, we will talk about our operating cadence using it.

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