How Bad Process Management Is Hurting Your Marketing


Good process management is at the heart of any well-functioning marketing team. It’s the backbone of nearly everything marketing does, how it improves over time, and even how it interacts with the rest of the organization. 

But the sad reality is that it’s usually not done well.

Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to nail process management and ensure all your key marketing processes improve over time. And at the same time, you’ll make your entire marketing team more Agile, proactive, and effective.

What Is Process Management?

In short, process management is a system for monitoring and improving processes over time. That may sound quite abstract, so let’s take a real marketing example to see it in action.

When someone in an organization wants marketing to do something like, say, produce an article, they need to request that work. The process for doing so might involve sending a simple email, or the requestor might need to do something like fill out a form. So what happens when the marketing team repeatedly finds that work requests reach them without sufficient context?

Delays, frustration, and poor performance.

This is where process management comes into play. First, you need a way to identify the problem (as noted, insufficient information in work requests) and determine how best to address it. The solution you develop should then be modeled, executed, and evaluated to ensure it improves on the old process.

What Is Process Management

The Cost of Bad Process Management

Considering the example above, there are plenty of potential points of failure. Your marketing team might not even realize that work requests are a problem to begin with. They might develop a solution but not actually test whether it addresses the problem. They may even go overboard and endlessly develop new solutions, burdening the team with the work of constant adaptation.

In other words, a lot can go wrong.

These issues usually result in process management that operates more like a fire department, running around putting out fires because bad processes are tolerated until they become intolerable. This forces marketers to become reactive instead of proactive, inhibiting a team’s ability to evolve and improve.

The Cost of Bad Process Management

Generally speaking, to be effective, marketing needs to proactively look for ways to continuously improve, stay aligned with organizational goals, and be able to react quickly to change. Bad process management makes all of these goals much more difficult to achieve.

So what should marketing teams do?

Why Better Process Management Begins with Marketing Agility

The good news is that Agile marketing offers a way to address not only bad process management itself, but many of its associated challenges.

By integrating a mindset of continuous improvement into its processes, Agile marketing creates regular spaces where team members can pause, evaluate how their processes are performing, and consider improvements based on previous feedback. While there are various ways to approach Agile marketing, let’s reconsider the example above and articulate how it could be addressed differently: 

If the marketing team is using Scrum or a hybrid approach, they likely divide their work into sprints. Let’s say they work in two week sprints. This means that every two weeks the team has a retrospective in which each member shares their perspective on what went well in the latest sprint and what could be improved. 

Under the Agile framework, this is where the issue of marketing requests without enough information would be raised. The team would then discuss the issue and gather ideas on how to address it, with the best solution being piloted during the upcoming sprint. Afterwards, the team would review the data in the next retrospective and decide whether the current solution works or another one should be implemented.

Now that you understand the basic way Agile marketing approaches process management, let’s see how other elements of the Agile framework impact it as well. But before that, why don't you check the state of Agile marketing in 2024?

The Importance of Mindset and Goals

There are lots of great processes out there, but not all of them work well together. For example, if your approach to prioritization is to minimize the amount of work marketing needs to do overall, but your approach to deciding on more general quarterly goals is about delivering greater customer value, you have two processes trying to achieve different results.

Now you’re stuck in a situation where two processes are clashing, hurting the ability of each to deliver value. But how should you approach resolving this issue? This is where utilizing Agile as a single mindset and approach is so helpful.

Building your process management on the foundation of an Agile mindset ensures your processes work well together and focus on the same overarching goal: delivering greater value to stakeholders. When two processes clash, the deciding factor is simple: which approach best delivers that stakeholder value?

How Agility Creates Vertical Alignment

Processes should ideally work well horizontally across teams and functions, but it’s just as important that they work well vertically. If senior leaders want a specific approach that clashes with how teams want to operate, you have the same kind of problem outlined above. 

Agile offers a structured approach to creating alignment: leaders share goals while individual teams determine the best way to achieve them. This clear division of responsibility alone makes it easier to align processes with strategic goals. In fact, most Agile marketing teams report they are better able to align themselves around business objectives than their non-Agile counterparts.

Further, by using visualization tools like a Kanban board, you can automate the connection between individual tasks and strategic goals. This creates even better visibility and alignment for team members and leaders alike because everyone can clearly see which goal each task is addressing.

Experimentation and Testing

No Process Is Perfect

As much as we’d all love to set a process and know it’s going to remain the best possible option, that’s just not the reality in today’s fast-paced marketing landscape. Change will always be necessary. The trick is figuring out how to test and evaluate changes effectively.

This is where experimental design comes into play. A poorly structured experiment is more likely to lead your team to make bad decisions and implement the wrong process changes. 

Sadly, most marketing teams are not good at experimental design, so even if you are trying to find ways to improve and test processes, it’s possible you’re relying on bad data. By breaking up work into distinct sprints and finishing each one with a retrospective, it becomes far easier to test ideas, gather data, and determine whether or not the process improvement is worthwhile.

Take The First Step Towards Better Process Management

Now that the costs of bad process management as well as the path towards improvement are clear, it’s time to take the first steps. Fortunately, Agile marketing education and training has never been more accessible. We recently compiled a wealth of resources including self-paced and instructor-led courses into a single platform called The Ropes. It has everything you need to get your marketing teams started with Agile and on the path to better processes!

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