The importance of reporting in agile marketing
This is the second post in a series from PERQ about agile marketing. View the first post about how PERQ started using agile marketing here.
As my department’s scrum master, I’m responsible for corralling everyone together for bi-weekly sprint planning, retrospectives and daily standup. I’m also responsible for generating summaries and reports for a good chunk of the organization, as well as for the executive team.
Reporting allows other folks in the organization to get a glimpse of what it is our department is working on. Of course, it’s a lot more than that. Agile Reporting is also crucial for determining the allocation of money/resources, acknowledging team capacity and the innovation and development of new processes. Allow me to explain …
Where are our resources going?
Right off the bat, one of the most absolutely crucial aspects of agile reporting is being able to tell the organization (primarily the executive team) where time, resources and money (if you count employees as dollars — which makes sense) are being allocated. Out of the 100+ points for one sprint, what percentage of that is going towards certain projects? At the very beginning of a Sprint (immediately after we map out our sprint), I export the current sprints data and calculate how many points are allocated to each of the major aspects of our business we’re working on.
Here is an example of an email that I sent out to decision makers. It lists the major divisions of the marketing department we work within. There’s 104.63 points being worked on in a 2 week sprint, and those 104.63 points are being divided into 5 different divisions. Once divided, I calculate the appropriate percentages like so:
It’s important for folks to see where time, resources and money are being allocated because it provides insight into exactly the projects the marketing team is working on. More importantly, it allows managers (and the executive team) to determine if too much or too little of our time and resources are being allocated to a particular division. If, for example, a VP wants to focus more heavily on one division of the company, but more points are being allocated to another division, this can be rectified in the current or following sprints. This type of heavy transparency lets folks at the top feel like they can have an impact on our processes — and that’s incredibly important for our business to flourish.
Who can help me out?
Another important aspect of agile reporting is clarifying the point allocations and capacity of each individual team member in a department. Often times, folks in other departments need work completed by our team members. Sometimes this work can be done easily, and sometimes the work request is completely impossible. It all depends on whether or not that particular team member has the capacity to complete the requested task. If you’re on a small team, taking requests from other departments can become increasingly difficult. This is because there’s already a ton of work that needs to be done by only a handful of people.
One of the big reasons why reporting on individual capacity is so important is because it creates a barrier, so to speak. It tells everyone in the organization: “This is what I’m working on. I am at full capacity and can’t work on additional tasks unless they’re an absolute emergency.” This provides incentive to department outsiders to put in requests early, in order to ensure that their tasks are being worked on throughout a sprint.
An Example of our Capacity Reporting
There’s little to no doubt that this can be frustrating at times — but if someone can’t fulfill an outside request, this type of reporting can alleviate interpersonal tension. Both parties have different priorities, so the person requesting the task might feel insulted if something can’t get done. Professional reporting is a great way to indicate to outside team members that our team isn’t NOT doing something because they don’t feel like it. It lays all the cards out on the table and tells people “this is what our team is working on. Their time is allocated towards these projects. They might be able to squeeze in a point or two, but that’s it.” It’s literal proof that something can or cannot be done.
What’s particularly nifty about reporting capacity is that it opens up opportunities for other teammates to shine. Let’s say, for example, I’m over capacity and I get a request from an outside department. If it’s possible, I can delegate those tasks to another member of my team who has more capacity. This isn’t always possible, but when it is, it’s really helpful!
What action items can we take? what processes can we change?
Reporting (at least at PERQ) doesn’t just consist of a summary of the upcoming sprint, but rather, a summary of the previous sprint as well! We call this our “Retrospective” report, and it lists off a number of things. For starters, it lists off the individual accomplishments of individual team members (these are written down during the “Show and Tell” portion of our Retrospective session).
The only things noted in the Retrospective report are: Tasks not completed, tasks taken out of the Sprint, actual points completed as well as hindsight section that allows team members to dictate what went well and what didn’t. During our Retrospective session (which happens right before sprint planning), we have a brief discussion about why certain tasks weren’t completed or why they were taken out and they’re written into the report.
This report isn’t so much for the executive team as much as it’s for the team members themselves. It’s an easily digestible report that allows folks on the team to learn from one another and come up with action items to improve on processes in the future. I know that I’ve personally gained a lot from this report. For example: If a task of mine didn’t get done because I ran out of time, I’d figure out a better time management process for myself in the future — or better yet, I’d ask my teammates for advice!
Agile reporting is an absolutely crucial aspect of the PERQ Marketing Department’s overall success. It’s opened up several lines of communication with people in all sorts of departments and has increased our visibility tenfold. By reporting everything we do, we can develop new processes and ultimately help more people.
About the Author
Felicia Savage is a content marketing specialist and online community builder at PERQ, an engagement technology company that focuses on helping brands generate excitement, educate their consumers, and provide shopping assistance to their consumers using interactive experiences.