Scrum

3 ways agile will improve your marketing team

marketingThe goal of every marketer out there is to create a campaign that is so genius and grand, that the whole perspective of their brand changes. Whether directly expressed, or not, this idea consumes most of the marketing departments making them forget, that the times where you could take months to prepare the perfect interaction with the consumer are long gone. Today consumers have means, they have opinions and most importantly – they know they have the power to communicate back. Therefore the new mantra is react or react quicker!

It is only natural, that with the new technologies available to the mass market, the way marketing teams work had to be adapted. In the last couple of decades it changed from working on the one sided communication of presenting a message, into a conversation where the consumers have very clear opinions about everything that a brand does. By now, there is no question, that the marketing teams need to communicate effectively or they will lose in the big race.

As with any changes, the main question is – how do I do it better than my competition and surpass them? While the changes to be made are clear, the best way to organize the teams work is still foggy. The team needs to be more flexible for the short-term changes and still focused on the long term campaigns. The best way to do it is still to be determined, but some are suggesting that agile might be the way to go. And we think, they have a good reason for saying that.

Agile project management practices are usually associated with software development and most think that they have nothing in common with other industries out there. However, agile has proven to be a useful tool in other areas, such as finance, manufacturing, education and more. In fact, agile marketing is not a completely new idea either and by reading the principles in agile manifesto, we get a sense of what exactly the marketing teams are dealing with.

agile marketing

So how can agile help the marketing departments all over the world? By changing their work process in three ways:

  • Flexibility towards change
  • Crystalized customer priorities
  • Efficient team work to achieve goals

 

The first change that agile brings into project management are the iterations. Instead of working on a project until its completion and then presenting the end result, the project tasks or phases are separated and completed in short (2 week) iterations. The iterations are worked on one at a time and followed by a review and acceptance phase with the client, allowing to review the work and reevaluate the key priorities.

This is similar to the way that most of the creative teams work already – going back and forth with the client in trying to achieve the perfect result. However, this brings clear structure into how the projects are done. For the big campaigns, it leaves enough room for any changes and the need to reevaluate the course of action. While for the smaller projects, it gives the opportunity to release a campaign every few weeks, see the results and tweak and adapt it accordingly. By the series of small releases the pressure to have the absolute perfect campaign right off the bat is lessened and the team can tweak the campaign with the input from their most important critics – the consumers. This approach is ideal for the social media management, where things move very quickly.

The second thing that agile focuses on is bringing value to the end customer. There are several techniques for that, but the one we think might be the most useful for marketers are user stories. The user stories initially are the customer requirements expressed in a specific way and placed on the teams’ project board to be completed during the iterations. They are formed in the following manner: As a …. I want to …., so that I … , filling in the blank spaces when meeting with the client and crystalizing their main requests. When committed to an iteration the user stories are divided into small tasks to be completed by the team.

Having the user stories in the front and center of everything that a marketing team does is great. It allows to keep the focus on what the customer wants at all times, while at the same time working on clear tasks and achieving the end goal. This makes it clear for everyone on the team why they are doing one thing or another and the priorities of user stories can be changed or new stories can be added at any time depending on the situation. The customer is put in the front and center from the first meeting to the completion of the project.

Lastly, the agile methodology is the opposite of waste. Basically, everything that does not create value to the end customer is regarded as wasteful. What this means for the team is that instead of the usual hierarchy, it is organized in a cross-functional way. The team works together to achieve the best result possible and helps each other out in case someone is stuck. This is realized by keeping the teams small (up to 8 people) and having them meet once every day for a 15 minute standup meeting.

To a marketing team, this brings a sense of community and common goals instead of a competition atmosphere. The hardly accessible team members and sending countless e-mails explaining the situation are the thing of the past.  Instead the communication is done face to face and the teams progress is discussed daily. This helps to create a more smooth process allowing the creative juices to flow freely.

Adapting agile is but one of the many options that marketing teams can go with to optimize their process. It is great for teams that are struggling with being more reactive to the changes in the market, for those who need to put more focus on their customers and for those who are not working together effectively. To be truly agile, the teams have to fully commit and be prepared of adapting their whole process. This will not happen overnight, but we believe, the ones that do, will have an upper hand on their competition.

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Do accounting and scrum work together?

Money-markets-420x210The financial sector is associated with big numbers, meticulous work and mistakes that could cost millions. It comes as no surprise that the procedures are very precise and require a lot of effort to ensure there are no slip ups. Therefore in this sector, IT solutions are irreplaceable in helping to manage large corporations, navigate international laws and keep track of what is happening locally.  

It comes as no surprise that the IT spending in the financial sector has been growing over the last years. Which is caused not only by the initial demand, but also by the fact that the last time this sector heavily invested in IT was in the 90’s. By now most of the systems need to be patched up, reworked or completely switched out.

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Scrumban – a project management approach for a fast paced team

fast

Even though it has been thrown around the project management world for a while now, Scrum-ban is still a foggy concept to most of us. Some see it as improved scrum, others as improved kanban and while this train of thought is on the right path, it is not quite correct. Let us try and explain the hype of scrum-ban.

By definition scrum-ban is a mix of scrum and kanban. However, instead of being an improvement of either, it is a brand new approach especially dedicated to the teams working in fast-paced and fast-changing environments that require flexibility. This event driven approach is designed to push practices only when they are needed and no sooner. Compared to the traditional agile approaches, it offers wiggle room for teams that have to change their priorities often.

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You should feel lost during the first sprint

QuestionWhen implementing scrum for the first time, you read all about the roles, meetings, user stories and more. However, when it comes to planning the first sprint, most of us feel lost and unsure in what exactly needs to be done.

The basic steps of a sprint are pretty straightforward – plan, execute and finish, with the help of various meetings in between. However, after starting to implement, a lot of questions and uncertainties seem to appear and at this point most of the teams tend to start looking for the best practices. Unfortunately there is no such thing, and it is each team’s specificity that determines how the sprint needs to be organized. In other words, the best practices can only be created by the team itself.

While the best practices do not exist, there are some guidelines that you can follow to make the process smoother. Here is our take on the most important ones.

The duration of the sprint. Deciding what the duration of the sprint is going to be is completely up to you. However, remember two things – at the end of the sprint you have to provide an incremental value to the end customer and the sprint should be a relatively short iteration when compared to the whole project (most of the sprints run between 7 and 30 days).

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From scrum to scrumban?

scrumAt the moment, more and more companies are turning away from the old project management practices and searching for the new trends like agile and one of its methodologies – scrum. While most are successful in adopting the new practices, some however are struggling. While the reasons vary from the incompatibility with the process to the feeling that the methodology is too strict, the end result is the same – a team that is not getting a 100% result. However there seems to be a solution on the horizon – scrumban.

To put it simply scrumban is a mix of scrum and kanban. It takes certain components of both practices and mixes them together in order to create a new and enhanced one. In this post, however, we will not focus on the complete methodology, but instead we will take a look at how scrumban can improve the process of an unsuccessful scrum team.  There are various reasons why teams find the scrum methodology unfitting – strictness, time constraints, continuous planning and others. For these teams scrumban is a great solution because it still has the main scrum principles and at the same time offers more flexibility and freedom to move forward.

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Why reports should be part of your daily routine

Stack-of-reports-007When talking about reports, the image that comes to most of our heads is hundreds and hundreds of pages filled with words, numbers and charts. In fact, most of us do not like to either prepare or to read reports unless they contain the exact information we are looking for. However, this image of reporting is a little outdated as with the new technology available, they have changed and are able to bring a lot more to the table.

Since the computerization of the office, the changes in reports can be summarized in three words – automatic, on time and insightful. Nowadays, the reports are mostly automatic as various project management software does exist for the sole purpose of generating them for the team. Because of that, reports are also usually live, meaning that the needed report can be accessed at any time and it will provide up to date information. The insight that reports can create for the team is also greater, as a computer can quickly analyze and cross-analyze the important data to provide information that may not be visible at first.

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Improve your TFS experience with Eylean

Team Foundation Server (TFS) is a tool widely used by companies all over the world. It offers a great variety of features and covers all of the development phases and aspects. However, when covering every aspect of a large process it is hard to be perfect and companies using TFS are still seeking additional features to get the perfect user experience.

Eylean Board aims to do exactly that – enhance TFS project management experience by providing additional features. In order to do that, Eylean works as a two-way integration into TFS. It takes all the information related to work items from TFS and represents it in visual task boards. The information in Eylean is updated regularly and any changes are immediately transferred back to TFS. This ensures that the users always have the most recent information and can use the two tools interchangeably. Let us look into what sought after additions does Eylean bring into the TFS experience.

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Why did US weapon manufacturers choose a startup from Lithuania?

Weapon manufacturers are among the biggest and the most powerful companies in the world. However, despite all their accomplishments, they have a couple of weaknesses as well. One which is their data that, if leaked, could cause tremendous trouble for the company and the stakeholders. That is why the security of data is taken very seriously and that is why some of these companies are turning to the Lithuanian startup Eylean.

board_big Eylean is a project management software for teams and companies of all sizes. And only three years after starting operations, multinational companies such as L3 Communications, British Petrolium, Tesla Motors, If and others are on the client list. Unlike most of the project management tools Eylean Board is not cloud-based. It offers a great variety of features for project management, however not being in the cloud is the feature that attracts the big companies with the sensitive data most.

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Manage your backlog in Eylean

Last week we took a short glance at scrum basics in Eylean Board. This week we will continue our how-to series by taking a look at the ways a backlog can be managed when carrying out projects with Eylean Board.

Eylean is a versatile software and there are a few ways all of the things can be done. The backlog is no exception with a variation of backlogs through the different teams and projects. So just to get you on track, we will discuss the three most common ways the backlogs can be arranged – as a column, as a row and as a separate board.

Managing your backlog as a column is probably the most traditional way. In this case, you choose a section of columns, usually the one on the left side of the board and dedicate it to the backlog items. In this way, you will have a separate backlog for each row of the board and you will be able to see immediately how many tasks are waiting to be completed. While this is very convenient in seeing the progress of the project and the task load, it can get very busy and clustered when dealing with large projects. Therefore this way of backlog management is recommended for projects with fewer tasks.

Column

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Plan your first scrum with Eylean Board

Whether you are planning a project for the first time or you have been doing it for years, getting used to new project management software can take some time. That is why we at Eylean Board decided to provide you with a short guide on scrumming with Eylean.

This guide will discuss the main scrum elements – the board, sprints, epics, user stories, and how they are represented in Eylean Board. We hope this will give you a basic understanding of our software for your first scrum project.

Board

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