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How To Adopt Scrum For Your Marketing Agency In 10 Steps

August 16, 2016 Volta Voloshin


You might have heard the term scrum, this nebulous methodology that techie companies use to stay on track. And while scrum was developed for agile software development firms, you’d be surprised how readily adaptable it can be for a marketing agency. 

What Is Scrum and How Does It Work?

Developed by Jeff Sutherland in 1993, “scrum” was established as a way to manage big complex projects by cross-functional teams. The term was borrowed from an analogy found in a study by Takeuchi and Nonaka, where they compared teams using the scrum formation on a rugby team.

The scrum concept boils down to establishing specific timeframes (known as “sprints”) in which a given list of tasks will be accomplished by the team as a whole. Everyone on the team is involved and participates in daily 10-minute scrum meetings where they provide rapid-fire status updates on their tasks. A key advantage of scrum is its agile quality (inspecting progress and adapting for the next action), which makes it so conducive for tech companies that are constantly developing products.

Why Scrum?

Scrum benefits the team by allowing them to focus on a given task list within the confines of a single sprint and — once the sprint ends — the team evaluates and assesses their progress. From sprint to sprint, the team focuses on key targeted projects, identifies areas of improvement and transfers any backlog into the next sprint if necessary. This effectively removes the confusion associated with bombarding a team with less important tasks or client requests; instead allowing them to focus on completing priority projects.      

10 Ways To Apply It to An Agency:

  1. Find Or Become a Scrum Evangelist

    Any type of organizational change requires a cheerleader, an evangelist that will inspire and drive momentum when the going gets tough. It is especially helpful if you have a support group on the leadership team since change travels faster from the top-down. All the better if you have a passionate and supportive leader heading your scrum. At Mojo, we were super lucky to have that in our “Boss Lady,” Nikole Rose, who brought her enthusiasm and brilliance to the scrum planning sessions. 

  2. Establish a Scrum Taskforce

    This is your support group. For scrum to be even remotely successful, you need to convey the value of scrum to your team and also get them excited about the process. I’ve been part of many organizations where change was forced rather than explained and developed together as a team. Being inclusive is imperative for change, so try to get a team of go-getters and collaborate on ideas.

  3. Read Scrum Books/Have Discussions

    Our team was lucky to have a great leader who encouraged and equipped us with books on the scrum methodology. We recommend the guide, Scrum: The Art Of Doing The Work in Half The Time. 

  4. Identify Team Roles Within Scrum

    keep-calm-and-listen-to-the-scrum-master.pngEstablish your core teams and select a Scrum Master, Product Owner and Development Team. In the context of an agency, your Scrum Master will likely be the Account Coordinator, or the person who is tasked with keeping tasks moving towards completion. The Product Owner will be your Account Manager, the person closest to the client who will have an exact understanding of the goals that need to be accomplished. The Development team can be comprised of a designer, a copywriter and an inbound specialist (or website developer in some agencies).

  5. Determine a Point System For Your Backlog Tasks and Clients

    Each client likely contributes a recurring check to the company on a monthly or annual basis. Establish a point system that will correlate how much they pay with the amount of points they get. For example, if they provide $1,000 in monthly revenue, give them 10 points. Similarly, you’ll need to establish how many points each type of task earns (if you have recurring ones like producing a blog post for a client). We found that using the fibonacci numbers is really helpful (provide each team member with a set of fibonaci numbers and then vote on each type of task with your card down). If this suddenly reminds you of your casino days, even better, because Scrum Poker is totally a thing cool people do. Read this guide for more details. Again, participation is key in this exercise. This is especially true regarding members of your development team who are closer to tasks and can provide more accurate estimates on task effort.

  6. Don’t Overplan

    It is imperative that you begin before you are ready. There will never be a perfect time and this transition will not be entirely smooth. The sooner you start implementing scrum, the sooner you’ll see opportunities for efficiencies in your process.

  7. Get a Giant Board and Sticky Notes

    The bigger the board, the more clients you can serve. Just kidding! Still, it does help to organize your clients vertically before separating the board into “to-do”, “in progress” and “done” sections. You can also color-code your sticky notes so it’s easier to take in the information.

  8. Kick Off Your Sprint Planning Meeting, Bring A Pizza

    Set off at least 2 hours for this meeting and get the entire team involved, not just the Scrum Master or Product Owner. Go through all the backlog items, prioritize and decide which items will go on the first sprint. Next, determine which tasks will go into the backlog to be revisited during your next sprint planning meeting. Also bring pizza, or donuts and celebrate this event (though tedious for some, we’ve found these donuts increase interest and participation 100% of the time).

  9. Stick To Daily 10-Minute Scrum Meetings

    slack-imgs.com.gifThese meetings need to be standing (i.e. no seating allowed!). Quick, rapid-fire status updates on the tasks are ideal. The Scrum Master will lead by reviewing the items on the scrum board and asking for status from the Development team. Bonus scrum points if you can get it completed under 10 minutes.

  10. Evaluate and Adapt The Process

    This doesn’t need to be set in stone. Scrum itself is agile and adaptive, so use that mentality to adjust it and make it fit your team’s needs.

    Bonus Step:

  11. Have Fun.

    The more jokes you make along the way, the easier it will be to get buy-in from the team and increase collaboration. Organizational and process change is never easy, but laughter (and donuts) can take you a long way.

Thinking About Adopting Scrum In Your Agency? 

We'd be happy to chat with you about the advantages of Scrum in a marketing agency setting! Give us a call at 972.815.1070 or contact us online today to learn more about this innovative strategy and how to implement it. 

Looking for other ways to jumpstart your company's productivity and success? Our experienced team can help you get moving in the right direction. Check out the other digital marketing services we offer here! 

Volta Voloshin

Volta Voloshin

Inbound Specialist Volta is an artist in a business suit: constantly seeking creative ways to help customers connect with their audience and drive results. Volta graduated from the University of Alabama in 2011 with a degree in International Marketing and a minor in Spanish. She also recently finished her MBA at Troy University and her experience includes working for a Fortune 500 retail company, a global advertising firm, and a big data analytics firm. Volta lives and breathes anything Inbound, obsessing over implementing powerful content that establishes an emotional connection with the end user. From researching your ideal customers to executing successful campaigns across multiple channels, Volta’s got your digital marketing needs covered. When she’s not busy being an Inbound Mojo-marketing ninja, Volta enjoys playing with watercolors and lettering, traveling with her best companion Dan, or challenging anyone in her vicinity to a round of Slamwich.

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