May 7, 2018
How to Prioritize Projects with Agile Marketing
Agile marketing is proving more and more that it's the Chuck Norris of making teams more productive and responsive to change and opportunity. One of the reasons Agile marketing is so effective is because it requires teams to learn how to prioritize projects strategically.
Here's the reality about project prioritization on marketing teams: it's usually dictated not by deliberate strategy, but by whatever fire is burning the hottest or wheel that's squeaking the loudest.
Check out "Five Signs Your Creative Team Needs a Better Way to Control Their Work Chaos" for more signs your prioritization process needs work.
The Agile marketing methodology says: slow down, take 30 minutes at the beginning of your week to prioritize the projects that should be in your next sprint, and don't waste your precious time on projects that can wait for a later sprint.
But priorities are subjective, right? Agile marketing accounts for that.
Effective Agile marketing teams will develop and agree on criteria to follow when prioritizing projects. With this criteria, they make scorecards to keep things as objective as possible. This way, everyone is following the same parameters when organizing their work.
In fact, in orthodox Agile marketing teams, prioritization and planning would occur in a sprint planning meeting, so that everyone on the team would take part in the prioritization process and avoid any issues of subjectivity.
Using a Scorecard to Prioritize Projects
Your prioritization criteria can be printed on a physical scorecard, or, ideally, it would live in an Agile-friendly work management solution. You can also meet in the middle with an Excel scorecard—a long shot from a work management tool, but much more sophisticated than a piece of paper.
I created a Google Sheet example of a scorecard to help you get started. It's an automated calculator that I adapted from a diagram by Ann Buice published in the 2015 "In-House Creative Services Industry Report." Be sure to customize the sheet to fit your team's modus operandi.
Use the scorecard to assign values to different criteria (effect on business, audience, projected hours, etc.). The sheet will automatically weigh the values based on the percentage you assign to each criteria and then it will calculate a total project score.
In Agile speak, this score is the number of points or hours assigned to the project. The higher the points or hours, the higher the priority.
For example, according to the scorecard, a project that will have a moderate effect on the business, is targeted at audience B, will require 10 hours of work, will last two weeks, is due in four weeks, and that is on schedule, will fall lower in the priority rankings than a project that will have a high effect on the business, is targeted at audience A, etc.
Keep in mind that just because a project scores low doesn't mean you don't have to do it. It signals that higher-scoring projects should be addressed first. Also, priorities should be revisited once a week (at least), because points will increase as deadlines approach.
Priority Scorecards and Agile Marketing
Knowing how to prioritize projects with Agile marketing doesn't mean you have to commit to the whole of Agile marketing methodology. You can navigate a scorecard without being a certified Scrum master. But it does give you a taste of the kind of productivity Agile facilitates.
And, if you do hope to be a full Agile marketing team in the future, knowing how to prioritize projects this way will give you a helpful head start.
Whether you're new to the idea of Agile marketing, you just started but need more direction, or you aren't interested in Agile marketing at all and simply want to be more strategic about how you approach work, prioritizing your projects is a best practice that will increase the productivity of your marketing team.
To learn more about the intricacies of Scrum, points, sprints, and other Agile marketing terms, check out our guide to Agile marketing.