We recently introduced you to the Agile Marketing Navigator, a flexible framework for navigating agile marketing for marketers, by marketers in the article A new way to navigate agile marketing. The navigator has four major components: Collaborative Planning Workshop, Launch Cycle, Key Practices and Roles. Within these categories, there are several sub-pieces for implementation.
In recent articles we covered the Collaborative Planning Workshop and the Launch Cycle. Now we’re going to dive into the fourth of our 6 Key Practices: Cycle Time.
Is work taking too long to get to customers?
If your team is plagued by work taking forever to actually get to customers, you may have inefficiencies in the way you work. For example, maybe your team is really great at getting social posts up quickly, but when it comes to email, there’s a huge lag in the delivery time.
Cycle Time measurement is all about measuring how a specific work item type, such as email, takes from start to finish — uncovering inefficiencies along the way. The team is then collectively accountable for discussing ways to improve the Cycle Time. In a truly agile culture, leaders would allow the team to make these changes. In a company that’s more traditional, it may not be so simple, but at least gaining awareness around the current state can actually start to move mountains.
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Are leaders aware of what’s holding the team back?
I’ve been at a lot of companies where leaders are asking why something can’t be delivered sooner — so the team works overtime to make miracles happen. Then it happens again. And again. The cycle is vicious and hard to break, but no one is really solving the root problem.
Too many times, people are trapped by tunnel vision and only see their own piece in delivery of work, not the whole picture.
I was working with a company’s CMO, and with him and other leaders in the room, we uncovered exactly why it was taking so long for emails to be delivered. We discussed every step of the process, from start to finish, and looked at where things were getting stuck.
We found that a lot of sign-offs were taking several days, including multiple rounds of reviews that were unnecessary. After making that discovery, emails went from taking more than a month to get to customers to being delivered in a week.
Read next: How to empower your agile marketing team
How to measure Cycle Time
There are tools that can measure Cycle Time for you, but I still believe that the most impactful way is to get people together in a room and have a conversation about it, with data to back it up if necessary. If you can get everyone that’s involved in the process, along with the person that’s complaining it’s taking too long, you can quickly gain transparency and alignment.
Let’s walk through an example using email. If you have a collaborative tool or whiteboard, have everyone list out the steps in getting an email done from concept to delivery.
|Understand the key audience|
|Segment the list from a database|
|Design the email|
|Send to martech team for coding|
Next, ask the team to list how many days on average each step of the process takes:
|Understand key audience||3|
|Segment the list from a database||1|
|Send to MarTech team for coding||5|
|Cycle Days (on average)||35|
While it may not be exact, they can quickly see that it takes about 35 days on average to deliver an email. This may make a few people gasp! They probably didn’t realize just how clunky this process was until they could visualize every step in the way and realize the inefficiencies.
Now that they’ve identified Cycle Time, the real magic happens when the team can discuss what’s slowing them down. A few examples here are:
- Approvals take too long.
- Copy and design reviews happening sequentially.
- Another team needed to code and deploy the emails.
After defining the issues, the next step is to brainstorm solutions. A few ideas could be:
- Can we agree that approvals happen within 24 hours?
- Can copy and design work together from the beginning and in tandem?
- Can our legal partners agree to come to a huddle once a week and sign-off on requests?
- Can we agree on what types of content actually need legal review?
- Can we train someone on our team to code/deploy emails?
Understanding Cycle Time and building transparency around it are key steps to making your team run more efficiently and succeeding with agile marketing.
Catch up on the Agile Marketing Navigator series!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.