What Software Can Teach Marketing About Management

Marketers should take note of two management styles, in particular: Scrum and Kanban.

What Software Can Teach Marketing About Management

One of the most pronounced challenges of running a creative team is management. When genuinely good ideas feel the bite of rejection or heavy criticism, either from upper management or clients, emotions tend to run high. Even on the best days, juggling multiple projects and personalities can cause a significant amount of stress.

That description doesn’t just describe marketing—it’s also accurate for many other industries, including technology.

As software becomes a larger part of our everyday lives, both professionally and personally, it’s important that we look to development teams not just for new products and tools, but for management and human resources. Companies that adopt their policies will be more attractive to candidates, more aligned with the increasing pace of business, and more flexible and adaptable over time. For example, does your office have an open floor plan? That concept originated at Google as a way to accommodate the rapid collaboration required by developers, but has proved incredibly useful to all creative industries.

Marketers should take note of two management styles, in particular: Scrum and Kanban.


This methodology, which is a flavor of agile, has been sweeping the software industry by storm; you’d be hard-pressed to find a company that doesn’t employ it. However, recently other industries have started to take note.

Scrum is unique in that it efficiently breaks down very large projects into manageable pieces in a few ways:

● Instead of planning for quarterly or annual achievements, goals are assigned to two-week periods called sprints. This allows workers to focus enough on a small achievement to do it right, and also massively improves time management.

● After examining a whole project, the team will zoom in to each incremental piece, or iteration. For marketing professionals, this would mean looking at, for example, a billboard campaign and devoting that first sprint to just finding the particular billboards they’d recommend renting. The next sprint might be dedicated to calling each billboard’s owner and getting an estimate.

● Teams measure the amount of effort a task will require, not the amount of time they expect it to take. This takes out some of the human tendency to underestimate, and, over time, has proved to increase the accuracy of estimates. The number of story points—an arbitrary measure of effort—that a team completes per sprint is dubbed its velocity. The goal is to increase velocity over time.

● Every morning, the team will have a stand-up meeting—which is exactly what it sounds like. By physically standing up, the team is pressured on to keep the meeting short, preferably around five minutes. During these meetings, each teammate will say what he or she is working on and any roadblocks encountered. The value in these is not only keeping the entire team on the same page as far as progress, but also making sure that anyone who can help with a problem actually knows about it.

This management methodology is so popular because it works for a wide variety of projects. From breaking up looming tasks into bite-sized piece to drastically improving team communication, scrum is a solid home run for any creative team.

Kanban Cards

This is not a management style, but rather a production tracking system developed by Toyota. Fancy explanation aside, Kanban is essentially a running, highly visible list of “Doing” and “Done” tasks. Generally this requires a structure, from a whiteboard to an entire wall—depending on the size of the project—but there are also several apps and websites that can serve as a digital Kanban board.


By visualizing the progress yet to be made, employees can essentially grab new tasks as they need them, which keeps everyone busy but also allows team members to pick up new tasks and keep their skills fresh with every topic.

The way each board is set up varies by the needs of the project, but each one still follows some formation of To Do, Doing, and Done.

By making all upcoming tasks visible in this way, team members literally can grab a new assignment from the board when they’ve completed their current job, giving them the ability to choose what they’re working on (to an extent). It also prevents a backlog if one team member is stuck on an unexpectedly difficult task.

By adapting management styles that work for other industries to our own teams, we’ll be able to improve our own work environment faster than without outside guidance. Software development has become increasingly similar to the marketing planning process in functionality, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on how their production flow evolves over time.