We are a small team that just created a website. We used Scrum and it worked very well for us. But now we have to shift our focus to marketing that website.

We would like to keep Scrum as our development method, but it does not seem to handle the requirements of marketing very well.

Problems are for example:

  • stories that have external dependencies, like waiting for a callback. Those tasks are very often not "done" at the end of a sprint.
  • many stories have a strict deadline and are lost in the one dimensional backlog that is sorted by importance
  • new opportunities (e.g. an interview is scheduled) come in on a daily basis. Having them in the system just as timeboxed "handle interviews"-story seems very crude.

Does anyone know best practices to integrate marketing into a Scrum process? Or is there a different lightweight process that our marketing team could use?

4 Answers 4


You can keep most of Scrum engineering practices but resign from time boxing and put Kanban over it. Kanban can be pretty easily organized in a way that allows you to put high-priority new tasks (interviews in your example) on the top of the backlog at any time.

You are also encouraged to visualize different information important for the team or the project. This can work very well with having your deadline attached to specific tasks. This way everyone in the team sees that and it's hard to ignore those deadlines. This trick can be easily used on your current task board without implementing Scrum whatsoever.

In terms of dealing with stories with external dependencies you can also easily adjust Kanban board in a way which covers this scenario and points every such situation so your PM, or whoever deals with external dependencies, sees it instantly. Read more about such approach here: http://blog.brodzinski.com/2010/10/kanban-moving-cards-back.html

This kind of change would mean that you change the way you plan as you would rather plan on-the-fly and not at the beginning of an iteration (as there would be no iterations), but it would also mean that you can better adjust what you do ever-changing situation.


I like Pawel B's comment about layering Kanban over your Scrum. I do think Scrum can accommodate what you are looking for if you really want to keep to Scrum...

Some thoughts:

  • Stories have external dependencies - Do you have the User Story correct? (Might you do well splitting it into 2?) Can you complete something that provides value to your customer (market) without the feedback? Maybe the User story captures the tasks to produce the first version and if the feedback comes in, you can take off the other User Story in the Backlog "Update with Market Feedback"
  • Stories have external dependencies - Scrum might be pointing out that what is missing is a different customer/information management technique. If getting feedback is of critical importance, "waiting for a callback" doesn't seem up to the task to accomplish this. What about holding a "launch party" or some other marketing event that drums up interest and ensures you can get the feedback you need?
  • Strict deadline - This isn't uncommon. It requires some diligence when reviewing the backlog, especially for things where a long dependency chain exists to a given date (e.g. Present at Conference requires submitting a proposal, writing the presentation, getting it in by the deadline, travelling there, etc.) I've used different colored stickies to show the story has a time dependency on it, and also tagged with a field/flag to make them stand out
  • New opportunities - Does this need to be part of the backlog? Does it get prioritized with other features, or just it "just happen"? Would you ever -not- do this?

Scrum is very good for building up a product, but horrible about managing the "chronic" activities (1-on-1 meetings, department meetings, network with potential customers, etc. all need to happen, but don't "build up" to the final product...) Typically (for me at least :-), things like the burn-up chart are useful to give groups like Marketing the info they need to structure their activities. Some times, if there is a dependency between Marketing and the Dev team, then Marketing might have a story, or sign up for a task. Usually tho, these groups (along with Legal, Finance, HR, Shipping...) don't need to get integrated with Scrum.

My suggestion is use Scrum where it is helpful, and use something else when it isn't.


I would keep the marketing activities outside of Scrum teams, because they are changing quite frequently, it is hard to predict what will happen, and unfortunately Scrum cannot handle frequent changes.

Delegate - if it is possible - the marketing tasks to the product owner or proxy product owner, and when a marketing activity results in actual work, handle it as a user story.

Actually, marketing can be part of customer relationship management, which is a product owner duty.


Often, successful marketing depends on consistent, repetitive tasks done over time.

Use a set of recurring tasks or monthly projects that consistent of a templated work-breakdown-structure (WBS).

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