The down-low on Agile Methodology
Agile is a cultural, operations, and project methodology that breaks up company and team goals into smaller, easily accessible tasks and proactively plans for changes that may come up before the deadline. In addition, it is interactive, and predictable, consists of time-boxed activities, encourages team empowerment, and individual accountability, and provides transparent, non-judgmental reporting.
As Marketing Operations (MOPs) teams grow and become powerhouses within companies, incorporating an agile methodology improves process changes and transforms the way that MOPs collaborates and executes projects cross-functionally. Furthermore, agile can be used within campaign operations for repeatable tasks and standardize the way that requests and information is submitted to ensure that high-quality campaigns are executed each and every time.
Agile Methodology Broken Down
As Marketing Operations practitioners we’ve all been there when a request comes in from another team asking for an email to be built with a send date of yesterday. We also know that much more work goes into sending an email campaign outside of putting text into a box and scheduling for send. (There’s an entire process for it, as a matter of fact.) This is where agile comes into play.
Agile sets up a strict set of boundaries to ensure that all the information and requirements for the task are provided during intake before execution. It safeguards campaign operations from wasting valuable time in asking repeatable questions over and over and level-sets the expectation that the information should be provided by the requestor at the start and within a timeframe that allows for quality work to be completed before the due date. (These are the service level agreements we’re always talking about.)
Let’s see agile in action
It’s Monday and your demand generation (DemGen) team wants to send out an email to a subset of your client base by Wednesday morning and they come to your campaign operations team for support. Your marketing automation platform (MAP) has templates in place for email blasts. It includes an email template, a generic audience list, and a campaign structure to execute the send with filters in place to avoid an unmarketable audience. Your team is already working on executing a massive nurture overhaul but dives into the email blast right away.
Without agile methodology:
Your campaign operations team asks for the email content and dives into the build based on the template in place. However, they immediately notice the content and information in the email content submission document do not match well with the template. In order to satisfy the Demand Generation team, customizations are made to the email template which takes away time from setting up the rest of the program.
After completing the email, your campaign operations practitioner goes back to the Demand Generation team and requests the audience list, and quickly realizes that the audience does not live in your MAP. In order to get the audience into the platform, Sales Operation is needed to pull the audience from your custom relation management (CRM) system and the data needs to be cleaned before importing into your MAP. At this point it’s Wednesday and the send deadline is fast approaching.
Without an agile methodology in place, your campaign operations team is working overtime to get everything in place for the email blast and the nurture overhaul while working cross-functionally with sales to get the necessary information in the right system without compromising data hygiene and quality, but ultimately, it’s unmanageable and the email does not go out until Friday, resulting in an unhappy DemGen team and overworked campaign operations team.
Using agile methodology:
Using agile methodology, the requirements gathering would be considered part of the request and be completed before providing an attainable deadline; a deadline that is determined by the campaign operations team based on the level of effort (LOE) and out-of-the-box or customizations that may be involved. This would include being provided with the content and audience at the start of the request.
By requiring the DemGen team to provide the information with the request, it allows your campaign operations to review holistically vs. piece by piece which can be time-consuming and harder to identify customizations or gaps that would impact the final product.
After the request, with the required details, the Campaign Operations team will approve or deny the project, provide a deadline for execution, and break down the request into smaller management pieces (if necessary) to divide the work among the team based on its level of effort. It also allows the team to negotiate a timeline with the DemGen team to maintain reasonable expectations, adherence to service level agreements, and deliver what was promised.
This approach is key because it ensures that the effort is a team effort and considers what every team member is working on so that one person is not overloaded and work is distributed evenly.
After requirements gathering is completed, the deadline is appropriately negotiated, and tasks divided, the work can begin. By tackling the project in this fashion it maintains a transparent working relationship between the teams, identifies potential blockers at the start of the request and level sets what can be accomplished when eliminating unhappy customers (the DemGen team) and overworked campaign operations team members.
Furthermore, as tasks become more repeatable, it paves the way for more positive process changes and easier management of the processes.
Is agile right for your team?
It’s incredibly important to prepare your team for working in an agile environment. It requires involvement and an agreement between your campaign operations team and their stakeholders.
One reason teams incorporate an agile process is to support ambiguous projects that take place over a long period of time, with lots of requirements gathering. The framework is helpful here for setting up expectations at the start to ensure both stakeholders and the team implementing are aware of their individual roles to contribute to the outcome.
Another reason why teams incorporate this framework is to take away ambiguity with repeatable tasks and create a standard way of working to avoid ad hoc requests that take away from other projects. It sets a template for what can be completed when and provides transparency to stakeholders.
You’re ready, let’s implement.
In order to implement an agile process within your campaign operations team, it’s important to set up a framework or expectation for working. Identify the projects or assignments that your campaign operations team is working on or will be working on.
Once you’ve identified the projects, document the following:
- The time it takes to complete from start to finish (without customizations)
- Tasks within the larger goal
- Order of operations for the smaller tasks
- Requirements for the tasks
The documentation can be as simple as this:
|Requirements to start
|Time to complete
By doing this exercise, your campaign operations team will start to develop a framework for how projects are completed and baseline for requirements and SLA (service level agreement) between your team and your stakeholders.
Is agile working for you?
Now that you have an understanding of how this methodology can transform campaign operations, is your team up for the challenge to implement?
Agile, the cultural, operations, and project methodology that breaks up company and team goals into smaller, easily accessible tasks and proactively plans for changes that may come up before the deadline, is a revolutionary methodology that isn’t just for IT and engineering teams. It empowers your team and provides a level of transparency that will be key in maintaining a positive and collaborative relationship with stakeholders.
Are you thinking of implementing an agile methodology or have you implemented this process already? Let us know in the comments below!