How to Build an Agile Marketing Team Using Trello and One Week Sprints

I was lucky enough to get certified as a SCRUM master through Jeff Sutherland’s course during my tenure at OpenView. Through the training, I realized that the agile/scrum methodology could be loosely applied to push marketing teams on continuous rapid improvement and ultimately… get more accomplished in a shorter amount of time. Thanks Jeff.

We’ve been testing this idea within the marketing team at Lessonly, the learning management software company I work for in Indianapolis, and here’s what we’ve discovered.

The Agile Mentality

We should probably start with explaining the agile mentality. I’m going to give you my simple definition but there are additional resources to checkout if you are wanting something a little less high-level:

Here’s my definition. The agile mentality is two fold: always be rapidly, continuously improving and get twice amount of work done in half the time.

Scrum is just one component of an agile framework and the most popular. Here’s the dummies.com definition:

Scrum, the most popular  agile framework in software development, is an iterative approach that has at its core the  sprint — the scrum term for iteration. Scrum teams use inspection throughout an  agile project to ensure that the team meets the goals of each part of the process.

As you probably noticed… sprints are core to an agile methodology. It is most common for sprints to be two weeks at a time. We decided to focus on one week sprints because of the nature of our business. We are constantly changing and the amount of work that needs to be completed is better managed in a week rather than two weeks.

With the one week sprint, we implemented three changes to our weekly and project management routine:

  1. 60 minute planning meeting every Friday – used to conduct a retrospective of the prior week, review goals and plan the next sprint.
  2. Daily 15 minute stand-ups – used to review individual team member tasks for each day and raise any impediments or blockers.
  3. Trello is used for project and process management. We switched from Asana to the more agile Trello and use Google sheets to manage more minute details and launch plans.

Use of Trello

The most important aspect of our sprints and project management is our daily use of Trello. For those of you not familiar with Trello watch this quick demo video. For those of you familiar… move along.

It took a couple of iterations but we finally landed on three type of boards our team:

Project Boards

This board is built at the beginning of the quarter and should be the central location for all major projects.This would include nurture campaigns, events, ebooks and paid advertising (to name a few). This board includes the following list: Backlog Project Ideas, Internal Projects, Campaign #1, Campaign #2, Doing – Week of 5/15, Completed, and Killed. Here’s a link to a public template of our project board.

This board includes cards for each major deliverable within a campaign. We review each card during our Friday retrospective and move check list items to the Doing list for the next week’s sprint.

Personal Boards

Each team member has their own board to manage their daily tasks. Each board has the following lists: Backlog, Doing (Daily task list), Done (Completed tasks for the week), Killed (tasks removed from Doing or Backlog for a variety of reasons).

Cards are created to build a todo list for the day. The goal should be to move all your cards from the Doing to the Done list at the end of every day. We also assign an hourly value to each todo list for the day. Your todo list should not add up to be more than 8 hours every day. If you have more you need to reevaluate your productivity and/or time management.

Editorial Calendar

Our weekly content for the blog, thought-leadership and third party publications is planned via a separate board called the Editorial Calendar. It’s organized with a multitude of lists: Upcoming Ideas, Researching, Writing, Editing/Design, Scheduled, Published and Killed. We also use the calendar functionality to review the content on a weekly basis.

We’ve been managing projects over the last month using the one week sprint mentality and it has been working extremely well. The daily standup meetings have been helpful to surface blockers and keep the entire team informed. The planning meeting has been helpful at keeping everyone on task.

That’s all I have for you today.


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