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Digital Marketing

Scrum for Marketing Project Management?: Tech Club Podcast

by Dennis Junk
on November 23, 2016

Scrum for MarketingAgile methodologies like scrum are all the rage in software development. The dev team here at Aptera has been relying on scrum for quite a while now. But lately we’ve been working to determine how well the principles of scrum translate to digital marketing.

Laura Larkin, our Digital Marketing Project Manager, is currently getting a crash course in Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server (TFS). Laura and I have been learning about agile methods for a long time, but TFS is where the rubber meets the road. It forces you to think of marketing tasks as user stories, each with an agent, an action, and a goal. You have to answer questions you’ve probably never tackled before, like what constitutes a basic unit of work for someone in marketing?  

For this episode of Tech Club, James (who remember is a certified Scrum Master himself) had Laura sit down with Software Architect and expert in all things agile Jon Fazzaro so they could discuss the finer points of scrum and how they might transfer from one practice to the other.  

Laura, Jon, and James discuss:

  • How the role of Project Manager is different from that of Content Production Manager
  • Why marketing has been slow to adopt agile methodologies
  • What user stories are and what makes breaking marketing tasks into discrete user stories so difficult
  • What role goals, users, and actions play in user stories, both in software and in marketing
  • How you determine what gets tackled in each sprint and how you plan the process
  • Why it’s such a mistake to make long-term plans at the stage when you know the least about how the project will progress
  • How it’s possible to perform all the ceremonies of scrum and still not be truly agile
  • How you create estimates and project timelines without first developing a step-by-step plan
  • Why prioritizing user stories gets tricky with highly interdependent systems in both domains and why concentrating on value helps you get around the difficulty
  • Whether marketing campaigns are the best product units to treat as user stories
  • What role testing plays in each domain and why marketing poses a particular challenge in this area
  • Why it’s important to break down large tasks and learn from the smaller subtasks
  • What the minimal definition of agile is and when you’re not really doing agile anymore

Jon has been a big influence on me since I first started interviewing him about software development three years ago. Along with Scott Brinker, he’s one of our main inspirations for exploring and experimenting with agile in our digital marketing practice. (I’ve actually been using agile methods for content for some time already.) Laura and I work closely together every day, and we talk about incorporating agile principles into marketing management all time.

So, of course, James sets up this particular interview while I’m on vacation. Thanks James!

Have you experimented with agile in your own marketing practices? Got any ideas for us to try? Specific questions we didn’t get to? Email us at: techclub@apterainc.com.

More similarly themed Tech Club episodes:

Project Management in Marketing vs Project Management in IT: Tech Club Podcast

What It's Like Being a Client for Agile Custom Software Development Projects: Tech Club Podcast

How the Project Management Lifecycle for Custom Software Development Is Like Dating: Tech Club Podcast

Web Development Goes Agile with Results-Driven Design: Tech Club Podcast


Dennis Junk
I'm Aptera's Content Strategist. I've been writing about tech and marketing for 5 years and have certifications from HubSpot and The Content Marketing Institute. A big science and literature geek, I taught college rhetoric and composition while I was still busy going to school for way too long, earning bachelor's degrees in anthropology and psychology, along with a master's in British and American literature. Look me up on LinkedIn.
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