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Romek Jansen, 21 Jan '16

Hey Agile Marketer, How Many Teams Are You In?

Agile marketers tend to participate in numerous scrum teams per sprint. Here is why you should never join more than six at the same time.

Agile Marketing is on the rise. 20% of CMOs say they already use some form of Agile. 65% of CMOs heard about it and are considering using it. Mind-blowing performance stats show convincing benefits with regards to productivity, velocity, flexibility etc.

When applying agile to their marketing operations, some marketers run into practical problems. The reason? They simply “copy & paste” all Agile development principles to Marketing without making the necessary adjustments to fit the new habitat. Small marketing-specific tweaks need to be applied or your agile adoption will be at risk.

We identified 6 fundamental differences between the nature of Agile Marketing and Agile Development. We will blog about each one of them over the next few weeks. Last time we introduced the Definition-of-Success and suggested an alternative perspective for the user story. In this blog post it’s all about you and the amount of Agile Marketing teams you are in.

Marketers are in too many scrum teams

An Agile team, or scrum team, normally contains 6 to 10 people with predefined team roles. There is one product owner, one team lead (scrum master) and multiple team members. The members of such a team can differ per Sprint. Normally, agile developers are part of one scrum team only (or occasionally two teams) but that’s it. For Marketing it’s different.

Reality shows that it is difficult for marketers to exclusively focus on one single scrum team. The daily job of a marketer is more externally focused than that of a developer, and it is more diverse in terms of the spectrum of tasks. It usually includes regular contact with suppliers such as agencies, partners and freelancers. As a result Agile Marketers cannot afford to be in one team only and tend to be in multiple teams per sprint to get the job(s) done.

Six is the magic number

There is always more work to be done than there are resources available. Agile marketers need to carefully pick what to focus on next. Where development teams normally move from one sprint to another in relatively stable compositions, marketers work on a multitude of parallel projects with even more agencies. As a result, to get up an agile marketing team, or even multiple teams, can be a challenge.

Taking the agile principles into consideration and having verified them in practice, a time allocation of 4 to 8 hours per person, per week, per team is considered to be the bare minimum. Correspondingly, Agile marketers should not be in more than 6 Agile Marketing Teams at the same time.

In summary:

  • Developers are usually part of one, possibly two scrum teams at the same time.
  • Marketers are usually part of multiple scrum teams, and deal with a wide array of external agencies. These virtual team structures, comprising external team members, bring a different dynamic to the agile team in terms of meetings, costs and the estimation of efforts. It is recommended not to participate in more than six parallel teams to keep focus and to not jeopardize the agile principles that bring the benefits in the first place. Six is the maximum number and the magic number.

How fragmented are your agile marketing team structures?


This is article #3 from the series “6 Fundamental Differences Between Agile Development and Agile Marketing”.

There are some fundamental differences between how software development teams are run and how marketing teams are managed. As a result, not all agile software development routines can simply be copy & pasted from Software to Marketing and remain relevant. In some areas there is a match made in heaven, In some other areas there will never be a match. And in yet other areas it needs tweaking to become useful for marketing too.

A special thanks goes out to Gidion Peters from His down-to-earth and practical comments helped us to sharpen our Agile Marketing thoughts.

Read other articles from the series here

#1 How to Define Agile Marketing Success

#2 Maximize the Agile Marketing Effect; Tweak the User Story

#4 Three Agile Marketing Tweaks to Improve The Daily Stand-Up

#5 How to Allocate Budgets in an Agile World

#6 How to Estimate in Agile Marketing