Agile Book – Marketing

Our Agile textbook is just weeks away from being a real, tangible thing and it is so exciting.  Continuing with our blog series with excerpts from the book, this one comes from the final chapter titled Agile Beyond IT.  One might wonder why an Agile textbook marketingwould dedicate a whole chapter to marketing products developed by Agile teams or even how Agile has been deployed in Marketing and other corporate departments.  My co-author, Sondra Ashmore and I believe that it is important to remember that a product is not successful because it was created by an Agile team.  Successful products have to be launched correctly too and that can be an equally significant challenge.  Here are the learning objectives from this chapter as well as an excerpt on marketing with agility.

 Learning Objectives

  • Learn how the Agile values apply to bringing products to market, beyond the development efforts
  • Understand ways to systematically collaborate with the marketplace through discovery and validation
  • Explore the changing dynamics for marketing of products with the proliferation of new channels and the complexities of brand management with social media
  • Review how wireframes and prototypes can be used in the marketplace to inform priorities for Agile software development teams
  • Learn how to be Agile when launching products by managing features, limiting the initial audience, and pursuing continuous enhancements
  • Take the Agile concepts beyond IT and product development and see how other corporate organizations can benefit from Agile values and principles
  • Discover how Marketing has taken Agile to a whole new level of discipline by creating their own manifesto

Marketing with Agility

There are a number of ways to effectively market products built with Agile development teams. Some Agile purists are uncomfortable committing dates and features to the marketplace, but in most industries, it is not optional: Existing customers and late-stage prospects demand to know when and how the product will evolve. We outline several ways to balance these two sides.

Managing Features

As initially discussed in Chapter 5, when operating with Agile software development, the iterative nature of the work and the continual adjustments in priority can make it difficult for the Marketing and Sales teams to know what expectations to set with the marketplace. One method of managing this issue is to define the high-level features that will be included in a release and commit to the release date; the flexibility is maintained in the definition of the features. If the teams run into minimal roadblocks and everything comes together well, then the delivered features will be very rich and full of options, but if they find things more difficult and time-consuming than estimated, then the delivered features will be more basic and simple. Let’s look at an example to explore this idea.

We have committed in our Cayman Design weather application to selling weather-related calendars via our web site. The features include the ability to order a calendar using the nearest Farmer’s Almanac information for weather patterns through history. We know with certainty that several base features will be included in the initial release: The calendars will be 12 months, can be shipped anywhere in the United States, and can be paid for online via a credit card. Marketing and Sales can immediately begin discussing the product and these base features with confidence.

As a development team, we envision a much richer feature set, encompassing all of the items in Table 9.1; and we can adjust scope, if necessary, as the project progresses. With the careful prioritization in Agile, we know that the top bullet (in italics) for each element is the most important, and anything listed below it is a lower priority. Therefore, if resource constraints or unexpected complexities arise, we can easily de-scope the lower items and still deliver our commitment to the marketplace.

This method of component management allows the flexibility of Agile to be combined with making market commitments and enforcing dates.

Table 9.1 Managing Scope to Committed Features

Committed Features Possible Components
12-Month Calendar
  • All calendars are January through December
  • Calendars can be ordered for the current year or next year only
  • Calendars can be customized to whatever start month is desired
  • Calendars can be ordered for up to 5 years in advance
  • 3-month, 6-month, and 9-month calendars are available at a discounted price
Information from the nearest Farmer’s Almanac
  • We have loaded data from 10 Farmer’s Almanacs based on the most populated states/regions
  • Load data for 50 Farmer’s Almanacs, one for every US state
  • Load data from every available Farmer’s Almanac for the highest level of precision
Shipped anywhere in the US
  • Ship using one vendor with state taxation based on an open source tax module
  • Ship using one vendor with state taxation based on a robust and more exact integrated tax module
  • Expand shipping to three shipping vendors for customers to choose from
Paid for online via a credit card
  • Accept MasterCard and Visa with settlement processed through a 3rd party
  • Add American Express and Discover with settlement processed through a 3rd party
  • Add ACH payments for transactions directly through banking institutions

 

Conclusion

Agile can transform development organizations, as communicated throughout our book in chapters about Roles, Requirements, Technical Debt and Tracking.  But what about Agile beyond IT?  That is where this chapter comes in.  We even had the opportunity to interview Travis Arnold, one of the coordinators of the Agile Marketing Manifesto.  If you enjoyed this excerpt or any of the other blogs, then please feel free to buy the book, available on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

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