Top questions answered: How to move from agile marketing theory to practice with Jira & Confluence


Thanks for joining us for our The Rise of Agile Marketing: How to move from theory to practice webinar on July 20th/21st. If you missed the webinar, want to share it with your team, or watch it again here on-demand .

The world's leading authority on agile marketing, Andrea Fryrear from AgileSherpas, shared insights from their State of Agile Marketing Report with Forrester that captured the reality for agile marketers navigating 2020 and beyond.

Then, we went behind the scenes with Zach Meixner to see what an agile marketing transformation looks like in real life at M&T Bank and learned how agile, Jira, and Confluence helped their teams work better and smarter together.

We had so many great questions during the webinar (some of which we answered during the live Q&A), so we're just sharing the most commonly asked questions & answers. 

We know you're hungry for more agile marketing and product resources, and we plan to deliver more soon via the Atlassian Agile Coach! In the meantime, here are the resources that we shared in the webinar (with a few extras!)


Agile Marketing from theory to practice follow up Q&A 

Q: What is the best introduction to or introductory training in Agile for someone just starting to learn about Agile for Marketing: 

In addition to the resources above, below are two really excellent books that I (Kelly) have personally read and love! When I started wrapping my head around agile for Marketing teams about 5 years ago, I did start with a lot of agile software development articles, training, etc; it helped me understand the problems that agile (values, principles & practices) helped teams building software solving for. Luckily, today there are a lot more resources & training available. For example, in 2019, my former team and I went through an 8-week course with AgileSherpas and received our ICP-MKG Certification; it was extremely valuable & helped jump-start our agile marketing transformation.

Q: Do you think some criteria make an organization or marketing team a better "fit" for agile? 

The short answer is, no but it depends. With the environment we're all living in right now, we think everyone is a fit for Agile...or maybe more accurately, everyone NEEDS to be Agile. The ability to pivot in a rapidly changing market and accelerate business decisions is THE competitive advantage not just for software teams but for all teams (and Marketing is at the top of that list!)

So the question is really one of readiness rather than compatibility. Are you willing to do things differently, even if it means slowing down for a while, taking on more risk, losing some people, and/or alienating long-time leaders? Eventually, most organizations hit the point where their problems and pain points are big enough that they'll sign up for anything that makes it better. A few things that Agile Marketing can help your teams and organization with are speed and productivity, transparency and collaboration, flexibility, data-driven success, and increased competitiveness. Your best bet is to start BEFORE the pain is that bad because you'll have the luxury of time to make better choices.

Q: How did M&T Bank handle change management communications when moving to an agile marketing mindset and model?

Our primary methods of communications within Marketing and Communications were via town halls. I also did A LOT of roadshow convos to different group meetings to discuss Agile, Jira, and each group's specific needs. Our shift to agility was part of a larger enterprise shift (not all groups, but some) so enterprise-wide communications were managed through our Enterprise Transformation Office.

Q: Would it actually benefit a marketing team to use a waterfall approach? What type of team, work, etc.?

If you know everything about what you need to do and how to do it, and can proceed from start to finish with no uncertainties or dependencies, then waterfall will work fine. If there's anything you're not sure about, including how long your internal stakeholders will take to get back to you or what market forces might cause your priorities to change, then Agile's a much better bet. Waterfall assumes we can plan our way to success. Agile assumes our plans are only partially correct and will need to be adjusted as we go along.

Q: How do you integrate the Agile Marketing teams with the Dev Teams/Big room planning?

We like to send marketing representation to the Dev Big Room Planning and find out what's coming their way, and then do a BRP for marketing on its own that incorporates what they learned about the product teams' plans. Sometimes, it's useful to bring in Dev leadership to marketing's BRP if some questions might inform their session. But, generally, we find it's better to let the groups run their own sessions with some leadership-level integration between them.


Q How do you (M&T) mesh marketing and development agile efforts? Do they need to coordinate or operate independently?

We coordinate them through a Scrum of Scrums, the Roadmap groups I mentioned, or via a Program Manager, depending on the situation and what exactly is needed.

Q: How do you manage situations where you are working with teams that are not agile? (Also, how do you bring them along?)

For M&T All teams were not Agile. The most useful thing we did was, during quarterly planning, identifying to-do's that had dependencies on other teams. We would then communicate those upcoming needs, with a tentative date, to the groups so they could plan ahead of time as much as possible.

Note: Working with non-Agile counterparts is a long-standing struggle for agile teams. It used to be developers bumping up against every other department. Now, as business teams, like marketing, are adopting agile ways of working, more and more of these points of friction show up. Quick tips focus on what is in it for them, get their feedback early and often; you can read more in Andrea's article below.

Q: How do you link strategic initiatives or OKRs to day-to-day agile marketing work?

In a bottom-up, agile mindset, you want most of your tactical OKRs to be set by the individual marketing execution teams in alignment with the strategic OKRs set by the marketing leadership. There are a lot of ways to document OKRs.

Additional resources to learn more about OKRs and tools to help connect work to larger initiatives

Q: How do you make Agile marketing work for a shared services team or others that don't have the resources for a perfect cross-functional team? Capacity management is a real challenge for us in agile. (For example, the workload in one squad is not the same as another. This leads to a copywriter in squad A being overcapacity, but copywriter in squad B being under...hard to manage. Any ideas on how to be more optimal?

Q: How do you handle unplanned work?

You can leave some capacity open if unplanned work requests are common on your team, but keep an eye on how much you're leaving. If it starts to creep up over 50%, maybe planning a sprint in the first place isn't the right use of time; perhaps a flow-based, Kanban-style approach would be better. I also suggest tagging work items as planned or unplanned so that you can see what impact unplanned interruptions have on the team's velocity, ability to deliver on time, and likelihood to achieve outcome-based targets that might be neglected in favor of tackling unplanned work.

Q: Can you talk about how you brought prioritization to M&T Bank?

We utilize the balance breakthrough model (Desirability / Viability / Feasibility). We first prioritize all the epics in the backlog using those three criteria, then prioritize the stories within the epics. After that, we make any individual story adjustments (up or down the priority list) as needed.


Q: When you have multiple clients, and projects within all managed by one team. Do you manage your Jira Project level by Client or by Project?

We (M&T Bank) primarily try to align a team to a single, or as few as possible, stakeholders, we find that having a single client is the easiest way to prioritize backlog.


Q: What do you do in situations where you are dependent on tasks by other teams like IT teams who may not follow Agile-based delivery and align the same in your own Agile planning.

For planning, managing, and tracking work across multiple teams or even your entire organization, Advanced Roadmaps in Jira Software empower teams at scale and help make the complexities of planning a little less complex with tools for capacity management and automatic scheduling features.

Advanced Roadmaps works across Jira Software (company-managed project) and Jira Work Management projects. For project-level capacity management, both project types have team-level reporting and insights that can help with capacity planning. In addition to the features within Jira, the Atlassian marketplace has addons and integrations so you can further customize Jira to meet any specific needs.



Q: What are some best practices for agile estimation?


Q: Which differences do you see between Agile Sales and Agile Marketing? is it the same?

One thing in common across any type of agile team is that they are focused on providing value to customers, audiences, business partners, and that includes having the right mindset, practices, processes, tools, and data/metrics. Applying agile practices such as sprints, daily stand-ups, and constant iterations helps both marketing & sales teams to be more flexible, data-driven, and effective. A distinction for sales is often in the way that teams are structured, and people are compensated. Sales tend to be commission-based and individually measured, making the use of true Agile teams quite challenging. Some fundamental changes that need to be made to the way a sales dept runs aren't often necessary in agile marketing implementation.

Q: In software development, there is what is called "Releases" (a piece of deliverable software), and Sprint after Sprint Releases scope/shape usually changes. Is there a similar concept in Agile marketing for "Release"?

It depends very much on the remit of the team. Teams with relatively finite, independent deliverables could include feasible release a complete campaign, or at least a viable slice of one, every iteration. A demand generation team, for example, could get something truly into market every sprint. Others that work in less well-defined increments -- I'm thinking comms, PR, events here -- will end up just focusing on value delivery each sprint rather than anything that would be comparable to a true software "release."

Q: How do you integrate other business areas into Confluence, e.g. Marketing, Support, C-Suite?

Standardizing templates that your teams use helps with adoption and leadership buy-in. Our strategic planning template collection includes templates for creating a vision, doing a SWOT analysis, and setting OKRs. When the whole team is setting its goals, use Confluence!


Q: When you built Jira did you build a ticket for each step of the campaign process?

Largely, a campaign would be an epic. Within the epic, we build tickets for the work that can be completed in a two-week (our sprint length) process. So sometimes that was a single step, sometimes it was a few steps. The key was we didn't want to roll a ticket from sprint to sprint for an entire quarter. This is actually one of the things we are still working to standardize as each team right now is breaking up the campaigns differently.

Q: Are these reports created for leadership in Confluence created with just out-of-the-box functionality, or are you using addons? (Also, how did you get leadership to use Confluence vs. wanted to see things in decks etc). 

Zach created them with OOTB features within Confluence. To display a dynamic list of Jira issues on your Confluence page for planning, stakeholder updates, or capacity planning, use the slash command (You can simply type / Jira in edit mode of your page). Search for existing issues, create a new issue, or choose from recently viewed issues. You can decide how you'd like to display the Jira issues on your page: list the Jira issues in a table or simply display the count of issues associated with your search. Pro-tip: If you are using roadmaps or Advanced Roadmaps in Jira Software, you can add your roadmap to a Confluence page as well

Zach’s example from the webinar:

Screen Shot 2021-07-21 at 11.22.26 AM.png

Q: What custom issue types have you implemented at M&T bank?

Zach and the team have heavily updated and customized their Story ticket format. They have also added ticket types of webpage updates, creative services requests, and requests to add a new ticket (whether it be a task, a deliverable, etc.) that our PO's then triage and build out backlog items as needed.

How to customize issues in Jira:

Q: Is Jira compatible with non-agile delivery? Can you represent other types of projects to manage a hybrid environment of delivery? 

Jira powers collaboration across all teams from concept to the customer. With templates and solutions crafted for every team and Jira as your common language -it helps to work moves transparently across your org. The Jira template library is an excellent place to start! You can browse a variety of different templates across all the Jira products

Q: Would you say Jira Work Management is also a good tool to adopt agile marketing practices? Or would it be recommended to focus on using Jira Software for it? 

The short answer is yes, but it depends on the needs of your teams. If you are looking for a single place for teams to plan & track work JWM has templates with workflows & features built for marketing teams specifically. Jira Software's scrum and Kanban templates have some specific features that might be valuable, such as agile reports and a backlog.

Note (as mentioned above): Advanced Roadmaps in a Feature available in Jira Software premium edition This powerful planning feature allows you to plan and track work strategically across multiple teams and projects in Jira Software projects (company-managed only currently) and Jira Work Management projects. You can plan based on capacity, track dependencies, manage competing priorities, and explore alternative scenarios with a single source of truth into the current and future health of your initiatives. Learn more about Advanced Roadmaps here

Q: How can I create a checklist for reoccurring team tasks in Jira?

There are a few ways to this do this:

  • Using Jira automation, you can set up a rule that whenever you create a certain issue type that sub-tasks with automatically be created. You can start really simple and add depth as you go. Check out our tutorial to learn how to automatically assign created issues based on criteria. Visit the Jira automation template library to see more ways that automation can save you time.

  • The Atlassian Marketplace is home to thousands of integration and ad-ons to Jira Software, a lot of which are free! Head over to the marketing place and explore check-list add-ons.

Q: How can I create templates in Jira to pre-populate information such as your definitions of ready or done and user story templates

  • Using Jira automation, you can create rules that populate specific information within a Jira issue based on the issue type. For example, you have user story templates, bug templates, or spike templates.

  • Jira can populate specific information within the issue description when you open that specific issue type. You can start really simple and add depth as it makes sense for your team. Learn more about automation in Jira.


Thanks again for joining us. If you have additional questions, please comment below! 

- Kelly


Andrea Brooks July 20, 2021

Will a recording of today's session be available at some point?  Thanks.

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Kelly Drozd
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
July 20, 2021

@Andrea Brooks Yes! If you registered for the US session you will be getting a link to the on-demand recording a few days from now. If you have NOT registered, it's not too late to sign-up for the AU Broadcast using the link above which is 11 am AU/6:00 pm PST. Let me know if you have more questions! :) 

Andrea Brooks August 20, 2021

@Kelly Drozd when I click on the link above to watch the replay from July 20, it just brings me back to this page.  I do not see a replay video anywhere.  Can you help by directing me where I can find the video?


Kelly Drozd
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
August 20, 2021

@Andrea Brooks hi! I see you're new here. Welcome to the community. Sorry about that, I'll fix the link. In the meantime here is the webinar on-demand (It's free)! 

Andrea Brooks August 20, 2021

@Kelly Drozd  thanks.  I appreciate you getting back to me so quickly.

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