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Frans Riemersma, 18 Dec '15

How to Report to Management in Agile Marketing

Simplify reporting to management while speaking the language of management. Use the Definition of Success syntax to blow your manager away.

Reporting is one of the biggest challenges in the adoption of agile marketing. Showing your manager that a sprint is on track, is rarely a problem. But does your manager care? Probably not. Your manager only wants to be sure that the Sprint results are in line with the marketing targets. How to report marketing success in agile marketing? The Definition of Success will help you to report to your manager in a shared language.

Management hates agile, says Forbes

The advantages of applying agile principles to marketing are compelling. 93% of the teams that adopted agile methodologies increased the speed-to-market of campaign. The adoption rates of agile tend to be high anywhere but the management layer.

Does management hate agile? Management surely seems to have a different view on the same reality. Management thinks vertically, while agile thinks horizontally, according to Forbes. At the crossroad of these two axes you will find "reporting". This is where the different realities collide.

Reporting is a challenge in marketing in general.

Your manager demands you report on a weekly basis: a painstaking weekly exercise in MS Excel or MS PowerPoint, or both. It easily takes up to a few hours every week to produce and share the report. The format your manager provided doesn’t reflect your team’s efforts and progress very well. And so you and your team members struggle to get the figures right and deliver them in time.

But that is the operational side of reporting. What about the insights?

Burndown charts, Definition of Done or Acceptance Criteria do not inform your manager about whether the marketing goals are going to be reached. Simply because they are not an indication that "marketing is making its numbers". The growth and revenue numbers are your manager’s real concern when reporting to higher management.

Therefore, convincing your manager to adopt agile marketing will only work if you have a shared understanding of what marketing success exactly means. You have to ensure your definition of success is aligned with the success definition of your manager.

The Definition of Done and the Definition of Success

In agile development there are two tools which help you define the end result: Definition of Done and the Acceptance Criteria. The Definition of Done defines the deliverable. The Acceptance Criteria specify the quality required. But in agile marketing, the Definition of Done is not reflecting success in the same way it does for development.

In agile development, the team is responsible for making the software work in a “usable” manner (UX wise). The team is not responsible for the adoption and usage of the “potentially shippable increment”. This is why reporting to managers in terms of progress is tracked in burn down charts, i.e. tasks done.

In agile marketing, the team is responsible for making the campaigns work in the sense that customer buying behavior is successfully influenced. This is why reporting progress to managers is measured in amount of leads, appointments, conversions, CTR’s, market share, revenue, growth, etc.

For marketers, creating a billboard, poster, landing page or website can be captured in a Definition of Done inside a Sprint. The truth is that delivering marketing materials as described in the “Definition-of done” is only half the story. The second half of the story is that you create and distribute marketing materials to convince customers to buy.

What if you were able to capture both deliverable and success at once? It would boost team collaboration, adoption of agile marketing and align reporting standards across the organization.

Use the Definition of Success to prioritize marketing goals

In collaboration with marketers and agile practitioners we have developed the Definition of Success. By using the Definition of Success you can execute your marketing plan the agile way and link them to every card, Sprint and Definition of Done. Our simple syntax ensures easy use in your Daily Stand Ups, to stay on track with your marketing plan.

FIlling out your Definition of Success will help you to prevent waste in an early stage, change course quickly if the market requires so, outsmart the competition or grab that suddenly emerging market opportunity.

The Definition of Success is a simple syntax to formulate a marketing goal or objective. By using multiple Definition of Success in a tree-like structure you can create an agile marketing plan which covers the necessary layers in your organization.

This way there is always an up to date, direct link between strategy and operations. If you need to change course then just re-prioritize your Definition of Success and all the underlying tasks will move along with it. Never be out of sync with your manager and market again.


If you want to learn what the Definition of Success is and how to how to use it, please read more and try the template here.