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Issues, opportunities and action steps regarding Agile development, specifically for senior marketers

Issues, opportunities and action steps regarding Agile development, specifically for senior marketers

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  • 1. Agile development Senior marketer briefing
  • 2. Agile development – 30-second definition  Agile was laid out in 2001 by software There are many “flavors” of agile, but most share a set of common veterans looking for an alternative to the elements: “waterfall” development approach, which  Rapid sprints or iterations they believed resulted in software delivered  Rapid requirements definition behind schedule, over budget and out of  Early development of test criteria touch with the market forces that shaped  “Turning up the heat” with team the original requirements proximity  A focus on delivering business value rapidly, in small  The group’s manifesto emphasized increments – Individuals and interactions over processes and tools – Customer collaboration over contract negotiation – Working software over comprehensive documentation – Responding to change over following a plan October 20, 2008  © THINK Interactive, Inc.  Agile development for senior marketers  2 October 20, 2008 Agile development for senior marketers 2
  • 3. Agile promises “big wins” to the CIO  Improvements in product quality, team “Now that it’s crossed the chasm I think that the diehard nay-sayers are morale and productivity starting to recognize that the writing is on the wall, that Agile works very well in practice by disciplined  Improved alignment of IT and business development teams.” objectives Scott Ambler, Practice Leader Agile Development, IBM  Reductions in project risk, cost, process complexity and overall time to market October 20, 2008  © THINK Interactive, Inc.  Agile development for senior marketers  3 October 20, 2008 Agile development for senior marketers 3
  • 4. Strengths of agile methods  Rapid development of improvements to existing offerings – Netflix is often cited as using Agile to develop web offerings. In one case, it was clear a movie-rating tool needed improvement. Using Agile, multiple versions of a new rating tool were developed in just a few weeks, released on the site for testing, and a clear winner was chosen within a month. Working in waterfall methods could have taken a lot longer.  New ways to develop requirements – “Story”-based requirements emphasize clarity and clear understanding of user value, while de-emphasizing rigidity and deliverables, streamlining the process dramatically. In addition, disciplines such as activity modeling provide new tools for bridging the gaps between personas and specific approaches to task execution.  Tighter integration with development resources – Bringing “the business” (that’s you, in Agile), business analysts and developers together from the beginning and “turning up the heat” can improve communication and understanding among the entire team. Small changes you want to make can be incorporated more quickly — and options from IT surface more quickly as well.  Infusion of new technologies – Right now, bringing experienced Agile resources into your environment is almost guaranteed to jumpstart your team’s exposure to new web technologies. Faster, simpler, cheaper thinking about technology goes hand in hand with knowledge of Agile principles. October 20, 2008  © THINK Interactive, Inc.  Agile development for senior marketers  4 October 20, 2008 Agile development for senior marketers 4
  • 5. Challenges raised by agile methods  Emphasizing delivery of function over experience – It’s a fundamental tenet of Agile to break an offering down into chunks of functions developed and released quickly. Rigid adherents of Agile require that user experience be designed within each chunk, meaning your team never has the opportunity to envision the entire experience — or even understand the site requirements well enough to deliver a sitemap. For a heavily integrated, brand-driven experience, this can be a nightmare. In addition, Agile’s emphasis on getting smaller chunks of functionality out to market may work well for a startup with no brand at stake; for established brands, market requirements often dictate the need to release a more complete offering the first time.  Disconnect between Agile and content creation – Agile’s focus on functions that deliver value doesn’t leave much room for design and architect of content-heavy experiences. Site-wide taxonomy and metadata schemes are challenging to develop a little bit at a time – and a single iteration to do it all will often demand they be completed too quickly.  Demand for 100% staff dedication – Whether you design and develop your sites internally or with agencies, Agile places very different demands on their time. In a “sprint”, team members are working together, focusing on a particular set of development tasks for a fixed period of time. However, while one iteration is in development, the next iteration should be in planning, and the prior one in testing – meaning non-development resources need to be in two or three places at a time. This burns out information architects in no time.  Lack of documentation – Agile doesn’t leave room or time for documentation of requirements, etc., in detail. Decisions made in a team setting may be implemented immediately and never written down. As staff turns over on a project spanning several years, institutional memory can disappear. October 20, 2008  © THINK Interactive, Inc.  Agile development for senior marketers  5 October 20, 2008 Agile development for senior marketers 5
  • 6. Action plan for senior marketers – part one  Talk with IT leadership now – Get the conversation going before IT brings it to you. Get a commitment from leadership to a process that incorporates your critical dependencies and metrics alongside IT’s.  Get exposed – Use online forums, conferences and your business network to get stories first-hand. Send some of your senior project managers to Agile PM training right away.  Lead your own project planning – Conduct a model project planning process to work through proposed changes, and invite a broad set of marketing stakeholders to provide input. Get external agencies involved and brief senior marketing and business leadership on changes to current operating processes relevant to them – for example, windows for legal approval.  Model staffing impacts early – From your model project plan, dive into the detail around impacts for business representatives, business analysts, PMs, information architects, content specialists and designers. If you use agencies, get them involved. Be sure to examine the impact of multiple, successive iterations. October 20, 2008  © THINK Interactive, Inc.  Agile development for senior marketers  6 October 20, 2008 Agile development for senior marketers 6
  • 7. Action plan for senior marketers – part two  Stand up for key business drivers – If content or other forms of brand engagement are critical elements of your users’ consideration and purchase processes, make sure that the modeled process addresses the entire value chain of their creation to your satisfaction. Educating IT teams on how these elements create value for the enterprise will help you build a better case for your needs.  Examine alternatives – Some firms develop layered approaches that allow for more traditional “waterfall” development of requirements and user experience approaches for large, experience-centric offerings, with Agile employed more strictly as a development method once the experience has been designed. At the same time, more “pure” Agile approaches can be employed for smaller projects, including fixes and updates. These are often not alternatives that ideologically-driven Agile consultants will offer up.  Communicate early and often – Agile teams often use new settings, such as wikis and f2f (face to face) “stand-up” meetings, to communicate. Get involved. Read the wiki. Attend stand-ups. After a project, get the team offsite to discuss what worked and what didn’t.  Question emerging orthodoxy – The inventors of Agile are quick to say that it is not a methodology – it is an approach. As often happens when practices are not defined in a clear methodology, measurement of “what is and isn’t Agile” is in the eye of the beholder. Try to be a driver for “what works” rather than what passes an Agile purity test. October 20, 2008  © THINK Interactive, Inc.  Agile development for senior marketers  7 October 20, 2008 Agile development for senior marketers 7
  • 8. More resources  Get our Agile bookmarks on delicious here  Get the THINKmail on Agile for senior marketers here Our THINKmail on Agile for senior marketers offers more in-depth perspectives on the pros and cons of Agile, and how marketers can be out in front of the issues and the opportunities October 20, 2008  © THINK Interactive, Inc.  Agile development for senior marketers  8 October 20, 2008 Agile development for senior marketers 8