No matter the industry, all marketers face many of the same challenges: meeting strict deadlines, balancing priorities, making the most of limited resources, and proving their results. In a field that places such an emphasis on metrics, it’s ironic that marketers rarely have time to examine the metric of their own efficiency.
As a tight-knit, growing team working with many different clients and on many different projects, Measured Results Marketing knew that to grow we would need to find new and creative project management solutions. As many of you probably know marketers must ruthlessly prioritize, organize, and allocate resources to get things done.
Working in the marketing tech world, our team started learning more about Kanban, an Agile software development methodology that emphasized the efficiency, velocity, and visual approach to workflow management that our team craved. In 2018 we decided to give it a try. Here’s where we began.
Where Kanban Methodology Began
Kanban has deep roots in the manufacturing and technology industries. Originally developed by Toyota in the 1940’s as a way to optimize efficiency on the manufacturing line, Kanban has resurged in recent decades as a popular way for Agile software development teams to manage workflow and deliver “just in time” (JIT) products.
Kanban tracks work across a board comprised of various columns that depict the progress of a marketing or development process from start to finish.
The board provides a visual way to track your workflow, limit the amount of work your team does in order to boost productivity, identify roadblocks and challenges, and prioritize the most important tasks.
Using the Kanban Methodology to Improve Marketing Processes
Marketing teams often take inspiration from the Agile world, so its no surprise that many of the principles behind the Agile Kanban philosophy can apply to work managed in the non-IT world.
It all begins with outlining the lifecycle of the process through all involved phases. Tasks and projects are organized in columns on a board like the one above, and the team develops a backlog that contains a long-term to-do list. When a team member is ready to work on a project, they pull it out of the backlog, and move it across the board through completion.
So unlike other frameworks where teams define a chunk of work to complete within a designated time period, Kanban prioritizes a backlog of tasks and moves them through your team pipeline one-by-one until complete.
Applying a more streamlined workflow than a creative team might have been used to before may seem daunting. However, the benefits of real-time monitoring and tracking to inform everyone in the department where a project stands are a massive differentiator.
When all employees are up to speed, it is much easier to work as a team towards the same direction thus completing projects and tasks within their time limit. A unified, creative department means your project is less likely to get stuck behind another project, and will benefit from the experience and strengths of more people. So in short, we can be more productive AND more creative.
Our team meets daily for a quick stand up to discuss any roadblocks to completing work and reprioritize as new tasks arise or client needs change. This process allows us to identify and address challenges quickly, and eliminates the need for lots of small meetings to track individual projects.
Using a standard process that involves regular communication gives our team lots of opportunities to tweak and hone our approach for continuous improvement. Not only does this mean we are constantly evolving and improving how we work as a team, but we are continuously improving the products and results we deliver to our clients.
Kanban is one of many ways to prioritize work, and the most important thing is to create a work environment that is organized enough to get the full picture of what needs to get done and prioritizing (or re-prioritizing) items quickly enough to make the right decision.
Interested in getting started with Kanban on your team? There are lots of resources for teams new to Kanban – whether its reading, training, or meeting with an Agile Coach. But the most important advice I can give? Just get started. Set up a board, start tracking work, and spend time each week talking about how to improve the process. And don’t be surprised if your board evolves! Continue to improve and make tweaks as you go along.
Getting started with Kanban on your team? We would love to hear more about your experience! Connect with us on Twitter at @FindYourYeti.