This sponsored post is produced by Workfront. 

If you’ve been halfway tapped into the marketing zeitgeist lately, you’ve seen this phrase: Agile marketing.

Everybody’s talking about it as the “next thing in marketing.” It even has its own manifesto. Despite all this hooplah, however, you shouldn’t feel too bad if you can’t quite put your finger on what Agile marketing is.

Take a look at the Agile marketing groups on sites like LinkedIn, and it becomes clear that more than a few people are a tad confused about it. Is it simply restructuring your marketing and in-house creative teams and their processes to be more nimble? Sort of. Does it just mean streamlining your process and jettisoning any baggage that slows your team down? Kind of.

To give you a nice, clean 20,000-foot explanation of it, Agile is a work management methodology that has been dominating IT work management for the last several years. It has been known to increase teams’ flexibility and ability to react to demand while improving productivity. Now that it’s proven itself effective, the marketing folks have taken notice.

Agile-driven creative teams have reported that, freed from the endless development cycles that can happen in traditional marketing work management, their creativity has experienced a major boost. Creative teams have seen their productivity explode by 400 percent and with less fuss. Marketing teams can test and iterate on campaigns faster.

If that last paragraph caught your attention, read on to see the four essential steps every creative team will need to follow to successfully manage their workflow using an Agile methodology:

1. Have a process to accommodate all kinds of requests

Agile is designed to handle all kinds of work, but that means your request management process should, too. Teams need to have a central place where requests can be submitted, including project-based assignments, formal one-off requests, and informal one-off requests.

Also, a creative brief is a must to allow your team to assign a required number of hours to it as a story.

If your team shares work with teams that don’t practice Agile marketing, a work solution that can handle mixed methodologies is highly recommended. Otherwise, you could find yourself duplicating requests and communication between your tools and their tools, which can suck up a lot of your team’s time.

exclamation-001To learn more about how Agile marketing works, join Chief Martec’s Scott Brinker and other experts for a webinar on how marketing teams can adopt this best practice without losing the creative and artistic elements that make them shine.

Register today for free! Tuesday, September 1 at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern. 

2. Maintain your backlog

As requests enter your domain, they officially become stories within your backlog, a running collection of all your outstanding stories. Under the advisement of your team, you will assign a number of hours to each story, so that you can easily choose the most important and doable stories when it comes time to organize your sprint. If a story takes up more than six hours, consider breaking the story into two more bite-sized stories.

Your backlog can be managed in any number of media: whiteboards, bulletin boards, index cards, or work management software. This backlog should sorted by priority, whether by deadline, ROI, or client.

3. Hold your sprint planning meeting

With your backlog all sorted, you’re ready to kick off your sprint with a planning meeting. During this meeting, your team will gather to look at your backlog and decide which stories to work on during the upcoming sprint. As stories are moved to the burndown chart, these stories are assigned to individual team members, who commit to complete their stories within the sprint.

4. Keep an eye on your burndown chart

As your team works on their stories, they should also move their stories from ‘incomplete’ to ‘in progress’ to ‘approval’ to ‘complete’ on the burndown chart, so everyone can see their progress in near-real time. A good burndown chart will also include a graph showing how much has been completed versus what was planned to be completed.

When done right, this very public chart keeps stakeholders updated and provides a little extra motivation for team members.

5. Wrap up with a sprint retrospective

One of the key principles of Agile Marketing is its focus on continuous improvement and collaboration. Holding a sprint retrospective at the end of your sprint is crucial to your continued success. What worked? What didn’t? Which parts of the process need to be changed for the next project?

More than just a round of high-fives, this meeting should generate at least one improvement for the next sprint. Then, armed with this new learning, you begin the process all over again…

David Lesue is Creative Director at Workfront.

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