Changing the Daily Standup for Agile Marketing

changing daily standup for agile marketing

Our agile marketing department has been primarily using the Scrum methodology to guide our sprints, and for the most part the framework has been successful.

But last week we made a radical change to the way daily standup typically works in Scrum, and the results have been so exciting we just had to share them.

(For those unfamiliar with the Scrum methodology, you can start with this overview of Scrum for agile marketing.)

The Difference in Scrum Standup for Agile Marketing Teams

The daily standup meeting was designed for software development teams that are usually all working on the same software, features, updates, etc. during their sprints.

That means that they have an implicit, underlying shared knowledge of the project that underpins all of their conversations at a standup.

An agile marketing team, however, works on LOTS of different projects each sprint.

Instead of an entire team working together on a single user story, as an agile software team might do, we have a marketing team tackling anywhere from 5 to 15 distinct user stories.

Even so, the “what I did yesterday/what I’ll do today/any block issues” format of Scrum standup worked well enough for our team at first.

But over time we found that some of the projects weren’t getting talked about during standups, either because they were being overlooked or because team members just kept forgetting to mention them.

So we stopped centering our standups on people, and started focusing them on tasks instead.

That means that instead of going around the circle and having team members report on the usual Scrum standup items, our Scrum Master goes down our list of Trello cards and asks team members to report on each one’s progress in the past 24 hours.

The change has been fantastic.

Why Agile Marketing Standups Benefit From a Different Format

Agile software developers work on the same software for long periods of time. In some cases, it’s the same software forever.

And generally all of the team members are working on different parts of the same project within a sprint so that a finished product can be released at the sprint’s end.

For example, our developers have devoted a sprint to revising the reports that our software produces. One person was designer, several others were updating the code, another was debugging.

Each day at standup they were all speaking a common language about the reporting tools.

Agile marketers, on the other hand, work on multiple fronts all the time.

We’re always driving towards the same ultimate goal, but we do a lot of different things to achieve it.

Our current sprint, for example, includes an email blast and custom landing page test, press release, website audit, new art for a marketing site, twelve new pieces of content, and more. And that’s not counting the daily work of social media engagement.

Clearly, even though we are all marketing the same products, we don’t have the same kind of common language running through our daily standups.

Scrum methodology simply didn’t have to take this kind of differentiated team approach into account. So we have to change it.

Making This New Standup Format Work For Your Team

Adjusting this approach to the traditional Scrum standup can help keep your agile marketers more focused, but it also makes it easy for blocking issues to go unaddressed.

To make this revised standup format work its hardest for your team, make sure you’re doing these three things:

  1. Offer team members an opportunity to bring up any blocking issues that weren’t addressed as cards/projects/items were reviewed. When your standup is driven by tasks and projects, external blocks may be overlooked. This can put your sprints’ success in jeopardy, so be vigilant. Having your Scrum Master available outside of standups to help eliminate blocks may also be useful.
  2. Keep your definition of “done” front and center. We use checklists within our Trello cards to show all the smaller tasks that need to be completed for a project to meet our standard of being finished. This helps us see how close we are to getting done, and if a project is lagging behind the velocity of the rest of the sprint items.
  3. Gauge confidence with a mid-sprint hand to five. Halfway through our sprint we give another vote of confidence by raising 1-5 fingers at the end of our standup meeting. This helps us make sure that no unforeseen blocks have crept in as the week(s) went on, and that all team members feel they can complete their portions of the sprint objectives.

Agile Marketing Lessons We Learned By Changing Standup

When you’re new to agile marketing, it can be an intimidating process. There are tried and true systems out there that countless people swear by, so teams may feel that when a system doesn’t work the problem is their team, not the system.

But agile methodologies, whether it’s Scrum or something else completely, are focused on experimenting, iterating, and constantly improving.

That’s the valuable lesson we learned from shaking up our standup: don’t be afraid to change.

Fail fast, learn often, and get better every day.

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Andrea Fryrear
About the Author:

Andrea Fryrear

Andrea loves to dissect marketing buzzwords and fads looking for the pearls of wisdom at their cores. Her favorite topic is agile marketing, which she believes holds the key to a more fulfilling (and less stressful) marketing career for individuals and a more powerful marketing department for business. When not scrutinizing the latest agile methodologies, Andrea can be found on the volleyball court, at the park with her two delightful kids, or baking “calorie-free” cookies. Connect with her on Twitter @AndreaFryrear, or on LinkedIn.

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