At CA Technologies, our development organization uses the Scrum approach to accelerate new releases of products to our customers. Since much of the work our marketing team does is in support of these product launches we thought it made sense to apply Agile methodology to our marketing team as well. So, I decided to be the guinea pig for our first ever sprint in Solutions Marketing, where I work on the CA ClarityTM solution.
Although I’m in marketing, I have a technical background-I started as a programmer-and have run development teams. However, I’ve never been a software developer on an Agile project, so my first step was to educate myself on the concepts. I chatted with members of our product management team and did some Internet research, learning the hierarchy of master releases, sprints, user stories and tasks.
If I didn’t work for a software company that offering free access to an Agile project management product, my next step would undoubtedly have been investigate of tools on the market. Fortunately, I was able to request permission to access CA ClarityTM Agile and immediately put my newfound knowledge to work.
My first consideration was how to structure the work our team does. Since we have two groups in our organization that support different solutions, I set up a master release covering both areas, and then set our individual solutions as products beneath as appropriate. Then, under each product, I was able to define releases covering each fiscal year. I then defined the teams, noting allocations for each team member. At this point, I was done administratively and ready to start defining sprints, user stories and tasks.
At this point I had a choice to make – one that I still think about as we execute our programs using the Agile approach. Would I go with Kanban or Scrum? CA Clarity Agile was able to handle both. We do have repetitive tasks in some cases such as updating marketing collateral, defining social media plans, etc., so I initially considered Kanban. However, we also do work that is very unique, such as creating eBooks and white papers or sponsoring events. Ultimately I decided that I’d rather make it really easy on us “green” marketers just getting into Agile so I stuck to a single approach and Scrum seemed to fit our diverse needs best.
CA Clarity Agile made the rest of the work of defining a sprint really easy for me. I approached this a little differently than our product management organization, in that we don’t have a backlog of requested enhancements to work from to build our sprints, rather a set of deliverables that we produce as part of a product launch or marketing campaign. I was able to define user stories based on our customers’ requirements, internal and external. One example: “As a customer, I need to be informed about the features in new releases.” I did most of my work in the virtual wall, defining tasks such as “Create an FAQ for CA Clarity 13.2″ and assigned them to team members, noting how many hours we would expect each task to take and if any impediments existed. It took only a few minutes to set up an entire sprint and present that information to my team at our daily standup meeting. I gave a tour of the product and our configuration, having had no training myself at all. It was just that easy!
We continue to use CA Clarity Agile, and are now wrapping up our second sprint. I know what the team is working on along with any associated y risks or impediments to task completion. This is helping all of us work more closely and effectively to get our programs completed at the speed the business demands. After we complete our current sprint, we’re going to hold a “sprint retrospective”. This is an Agile practice where the team meets after the sprint ends and discusses what went well, what didn’t go well, and how to improve the next sprint. With CA Clarity Agile, you can run an OOTB report to support the retrospective, and this will really help us as newbies in this area.