How Hubspot began using Scrum to manage tasks…and everything got better
Getting more done in less time. Those six words would make any manager brim with excitement. That’s also the key takeaway from Joel Traugott, a marketer at HubSpot, about his experience adopting Scrum into the software company’s work routine. He recently joined Ryn Melberg on The Guardian Podcast to discuss the many ways Scrum improved his workplace and how they used Scrum to manage tasks.
Scrum is an “agile framework for completing complex projects.” Though originally intended to speed along software development projects, its creators quickly realized that it would be an effective tool for all sorts of team projects. There may be no industry for which that’s truer than content marketing.
Joel would know. He’s a self-described data-driven digital marketing geek who has experience working for a number of agencies and SaaS companies. Joel had grown frustrated with the bloated editorial calendars that were bogging down team projects. The pre-Scrum workplace looked something like this: employees spent valuable time planning up to a year in advance just to see those plans fall apart down the line, multiple editors independently editing the same content, and unnecessarily long queue lines to get approval to write even simple blogs. It’s no surprise that projects were missing deadlines with this many inefficiencies.
After three months of learning how to leverage Scrum, Joel became the “Scrum Master” — the leader of his HubSpot team’s renovated approach to content marketing. The changes they made may seem simple, but the benefits can’t be overstated. Using Scrum to manage tasks made a huge difference.
The biggest change may have been the shortening of the editorial calendar to a more manageable and flexible 2-4 week time frame. Scrum provides a digestible backlog of tasks that need to get done. From there, the highest priority tasks are selected to work on during a few-week-long sprint.
Agile marketing is at a premium right now. Unforeseen events affect every industry at one point or another. Your customers may start responding to content differently than you expected. Times like those get a lot more manageable when you’re taking things in small chunks that can be amended easily. The ability to pivot without hours of red tape to cut through gave HubSpot a leg up. Having a concise content schedule allowed them to adapt to current trends and produce relevant content.
Joel noted that before Scrum, he and his coworkers would hardly ever collaborate on a project. The extent of their interaction was usually just getting drinks after work. The coordination that Scrum brought to the workplace made Joel feel a greater sense of fulfillment that he had experienced in a while.
A happy workplace is an efficient workplace, to be sure. Ryn asked Joel how he would sell Scrum to a team. “Tearing down the walls that separate coworkers,” as Joel put it, is one of the highlights of Scrum’s framework. It gets everyone in the same room to discuss projects once a day to stay on the same page, and then as a retrospective after a sprint is complete. True collaboration is a lot easier to come by when an office can communicate openly, and Scrum was the biggest player in making that change. Personal commitment to team goals grew deeper, and challenges were addressed with candor and a more solution-oriented mindset.
The foundations of a functioning office are transparency, organization, collaboration, and flexibility. Scrum does well to strengthen these pillars. Shortcomings in these areas are often imperceptible, only noticeable when the system starts to break down. Sometimes you have to question things about your work environment that you’ve never thought of as being the root of problems. If that’s the case, consider learning more about Scrum here.