There are many setups an agile marketing team can work in – and one of them is an entirely in-house team. Although probably “one” is also not the right word – as practice shows, an in-house agile marketing team can be structured in many ways, too. Let’s look at what some of the options are.
First, let’s remember that an in-house agile marketing team will be slightly different from a typical in-house software development team most of us are used to. And not just because marketers have come up with a separate agile manifesto.
While software developers usually specialize in specific technologies and programming languages, marketers are used to a more varied scope of responsibilities and often unlikely to focus on the process alone and entirely forgo execution.
Some marketing teams choose not to outsource any part of the marketing processes, though, whether it’s planning or execution. This might be because of past negative experiences with external agencies, budget shortages, or because they’re focusing on building competencies within an internal team.
Whatever the reason, this comes with its own set of challenges, additionally depending on whether you’re building an entirely new team or introducing agile into your existing one.
With all of the challenges, keeping an agile marketing team entirely in-house is not an easy task. But it doesn’t come without its benefits.
Traditionally, agile teams are cross-functional, which leads to naturally self-organizing teams based on the skills needed for a project. The challenge with agile marketing teams is that there are likely to be specialists in narrow marketing fields like SEO or paid campaigns. At the same time, more and more often, you’ll also have the so-called T-shaped marketers, with more in-depth knowledge in one or several marketing areas and a general understanding of others.
So, a lot of the time, how you structure the in-house agile marketing team will be specific to your organization.
An in-house agile marketing team requires a robust marketing stack, which means it will likely benefit from both the generalists and specialists, depending on the projects. And most likely, it’s going to heavily rely on multi-skilled members who can take on many hats. The challenge is to combine all the necessary skills for a truly self-reliant team that won’t need external support in both planning and execution.
Some experts recommend an optimum of 5 people in a team. Others, like Scott Brinker, the author of “Hacking Marketing”, recommend a maximum of 10 to 12 team members, with an extra layer of leadership needed for larger teams.
There are two main types of execution teams suitable for different agile frameworks (Kanban vs. Scrum).
The roles within the execution team will depend on the blend of skills within it and whether you have generalists, specialists, or T-shaped marketers, with the latter being more flexible to adjust roles as needed in a cross-functional team.
Femi Olajiga, the author of “Lean-Agile Marketing,” admits there’s no silver bullet when it comes to an agile marketing team structure and recommends asking yourself a few questions first:
What he also suggests is the continuous improvement and optimization of the structure of an in-house agile marketing team – just like any other aspect of its activity.
With smaller teams, you might be, sooner or later, looking to external teams or contractors for help with tasks like content creation, which gets difficult to manage with a small team when your needs – and your customer base – grow.
But whatever the size, and regardless of whether you’re outsourcing or not, you will need to rely on software tools to aid and streamline collaboration in agile marketing projects. Luckily, there are multiple apps that help manage sprints, communicate daily, and run agile ceremonies online when offline meetings are out of the picture.
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Agile marketing offers teams the opportunity to have the same level of experimentation and find better ways to keep abreast of what customers want, on the same dime. Armed with data and analytics, agile teams are enabled to plan and respond to what the customer wants and how they experience the product or service.