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What is agile project management
in digital marketing?

From scrums to sprints… what is agile project management?

Historical methods and principles

It’s nearly impossible to determine which question is the hardest to answer between “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” and “What is a project?”. A dozen definitions could apply to this concept, each different, each as accurate. In general, within an organization, a project is defined by three variables that form a nearly magical triangle: cost (or budget), quality (or content), and time. 

These three variables are crucial to keep in mind when managing a team project, no matter the preferred method. That, and client satisfaction! 

Speaking of management methods, let’s first explore a strategy different from the agile approach, a well-established methodology that has proved effective for decades now: the waterfall model, or Kanban method.

The Kanban management model

Even though it precedes the agile methodology by a few years, this model is none the more inferior or obsolete. On the contrary, the Kanban approach is still used by many organizations in various team-managed projects. 

The waterfall model is straightforward: as indicated by its name, it’s a methodology following linear task organization, where each phase results from the previous in chronological order. 

This method is often favored for its simplicity, ability to better predict content and time, propensity for specialized work tasks, and ability to standardize content creation. 

However, many have criticized this methodology due to its lack of shared vision within a team, its propensity for intangible, hard-to-measure objectives, and the elevated costs resulting from a product that misses its target. 

When a project is managed using the waterfall model and a product isn’t assessed until the very end, it isn’t uncommon for the final result to require adjustments or modifications! This is exactly what an increasingly popular and favored management approach among many agencies and organizations aims to do: the agile management model.

The Agile Management Methodology

While the Kanban approach banks on linear management and clear, generally inflexible targets, agility is renowned for promoting better collaboration between team members, a higher level of transparency between clients and executives, and higher adaptability to change than other methodologies. 

The agile method rests on the principles of nearly constant planning and validating, partial product delivery that allows for regular adjustments, and regular feedback to save as much time and money as possible when delivering the final product. 

Within this project management model, planning is more important than the plan itself! 

A few pillars make up this model’s foundation.

Flexible targets

The agile model focuses on the idea that it’s impossible to establish fixed objectives from the beginning of a project. Flexible, adjustable goals are instead prioritized, and we set aside what can be developed throughout the project.

A backlog

As one of the building blocks of this model, the backlog refers to a list of functionalities classified according to their priority level. This allows for better prioritizing of tasks and providing the necessary resources to a task depending on its position on the list. 

Team members can refer to it and select tasks to complete depending on their importance level and time requirements.

Sprints

Instead of focusing on a final long-term objective, the agile methodology concentrates on short-term goals, generally within a 2 to 4-week period. These short phases are also called a “sprint” and are used notably in web development projects. 

These sprints form loops that repeat themselves until the project is completed. By breaking down a project into smaller bites, we ensure that constant adjustments and regular feedback are part of the process. It’s then possible to identify what doesn’t work (and what does!) during the development, testing, and deployment phases. This allows the development and implementation of more effective tools, new agile techniques, better-adapted resources, and better-defined roles, if necessary.

Scrums

An integral part of the spring, the scrum is a brief daily meeting, usually around fifteen minutes, which aims to address three questions: what did you do yesterday, what are you doing today, and what is blocking you. 

It allows easy and quick identification of what can hinder the progression of a task, and an employee who’s stuck can discuss the problem further with the project manager. After the scrum, obviously! 

Numerous retrospective steps are also part of the process. During these conversations, the focus is on the work process rather than the product. Problems and issues are identified as quickly as possible, which helps avoid important consequences! Both teams and clients end up happier.

Agile marketing

While agile project management is common in web development, this model is slightly more unusual when it comes to web marketing. However, this management approach can be easily applied to web marketing campaigns since this industry shares many common attributes with web development. 

For example, sprints can be used to assess the effectiveness of marketing elements on a smaller scale rather than launching massive campaigns and running the risk of missing the target. 

The focus also shifts to testing and data analysis rather than opinions and previously established conventions. Marketing is an ever-changing, quickly evolving field, and data is a crucial tool in this growing industry. 

Small-scale experiments allow us to follow one very simple rule: aiming high by starting off small. 

Depending on observed results, we can then determine whether we should pivot or stick with the original plan. 

In the end, the agile model in marketing aims to facilitate communication and collaboration between teams, even if they’re autonomous and each have their own unique needs.

Concrete examples

In marketing, the agile methodology can accelerate campaign production concretely through data analysis. It allows, for example, to use slightly tweaked campaigns that worked in the past as a base to be replicated. 

Thanks to constant feedback, data, and short-term objectives, it’s possible to adjust quickly and add new elements when tests are conclusive. It allows to complexify successful campaigns, add geolocated content, etc. 

The agile model could also apply, for example, to the addition of a blog section on a website. 

The idea would be to establish a standard template from a platform such as WordPress and publish a few articles to establish an editorial brand. If this first test is conclusive, a comment section could then be added, a video carousel, or other elements. 

This avoids having to wait until every element is completed and ready to be deployed, an effective strategy when unsure whether elements will have the desired effect. 

Do you manage projects following an agile model, the waterfall approach, or a different methodology? Whether it’s web development or renovating your backyard, one thing’s for sure: you have to take it one step at a time!

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