The gospel of Agile is certainly nothing new to developers, who have been employing it for decades at this point, and have seen its benefits. One of the most interesting developments is the amount of cross-communication that is starting to occur between marketing teams and developers. Marketers are needing to learn more skills that developers have practiced for years in order to meet the demands of today’s marketing environment.

Though many marketers are jumping on, there is still some skepticism among developers about whether or not marketers really “get it.” After all, the landscape and scope of work that marketers navigate is, when it comes to nuts and bolts, quite different despite the cross-communication. In some cases, these two teams have even found themselves at odds with each other — there is a tension that occurs when a marketer starts to take on the responsibility of more and more software. In defense of developer skepticism, let’s face it: marketers rarely have a development background. 

On the other hand, as more of the marketing stack becomes a “managed service,” developers are allowed the time and space to work on higher-value initiatives. Marketers simply need a way to approach the management of software, and are taking a page out of the developer handbook. This presents a significant opportunity for these two teams to become powerful allies and have a more productive relationship. Developers should be asking “how can I influence marketing to adopt agile in a way that will make my life better while helping us collaborate on things that drive the business?” Here are a few benefits to this thinking: 

Cross-team synchronicity improves productivity
Perhaps one of the most beneficial aspects to developers is having the two teams be in complete sync with each other. A shared Agile process means having a shared backlog and a shared set of priorities that are transparent across both teams. Working out of the same backlog and work-in-process board improves collaboration just because everyone can literally see what’s being released, worked on now, and coming up next. Agile tooling can also help get team on the same page. Workflows can ensure than handoffs are missed, that balls aren’t dropped, and that follow up is timely. There is no substitute for a set of teams that work in tandem like a well-oiled machine, and Agile has the ability to enable that. Developers can only benefit from this. 

Blurring boundaries leads to innovation
A shared Agile process means that the marketing team is going to have a much more clear understanding of the needs of the development team, and the development process. This empowers the marketing team to be able to make critical contributions, anticipate issues, and engage with projects on a more committed level. As these teams integrate more deeply roles will blur—developers will have an opportunity to participate in design and business development, and marketers will have an opportunity to participate in decision making around technical tradeoffs. When we work outside of our primary areas of expertise we bring fresh ideas to the table that lead to innovation.

Agile teams are more engaged
Agile teams are not just more productive and innovative, they’re also more engaged. This is partly due to the fact that agile tends to reorganize teams into smaller cross-functional working groups that are focused on a business initiative. This is not a requirement of agile but it’s certainly the setup that leads to the most significant impacts. According to Gallup research, “Teams with five to nine employees have relatively higher engagement compared with teams of 10 or more employees.” This benefit is accessible to the degree that development and marketing teams can realign this way through the adoption of agile. 

How can developers help out their marketing teams?

  • The big point is this: understand that Agile must be adapted to the marketing function. It is not enough to simply have the marketing team adopt Scrum.
  • That said, marketing’s ability to embrace a complex Agile method won’t be great out of the gate, so it is important to start them off with a less prescriptive method and be patient.
  • Additionally to the mindset, it will take marketing some time embrace the mindset changes that are required to get the full benefit of an agile approach.
  • Understand that marketing leadership needs to be educated about Agile in a business context. They especially need to understand the mindset changes that are required. For example, this is a notable shift from the “big bang” marketing release to many, many small and incremental releases. Leadership needs to understand and see the benefit to this, or they will be the toughest to get on board.

And there you have it. As the worlds of developers and marketers draw closer together in goals and skills, there doesn’t need to be ambiguity in how this is actually a great thing that works in everyone’s favor. No toes need to be stepped on and, with a little patience, a marketing team can be empowered by the development team to be just as formidable and productive in the lifespan of a project.