Steak & Tech – Work Smart Luncheon by Workfront

Does the combination of a juicy steak and awesome technology appeal to you? Last week I was invited to attend a Work Smart luncheon by Workfront.  I love to work smart and I love lunch, so I agreed to attend. The Capital Grille venue in Boston was great. And they executed perfectly.  Here are some reflections on the seminar.

First of all the food.  OK, so I’m a foodie, I admit it. They did this up right, there was nothing shrimpy about the jumbo shrimp cocktail, liver pate, a delicious salad, a 12-ounce bone-in dry-aged New York sirloin.  (The more words needed to describe your steak, the better, right?) and then a lovely selection of desserts including an amazing coconut cream pie.  Sorry to the bosses out there, if you were expecting productivity in the early afternoon, that’s impossible because we all left in a food coma! (Oops, I’m the boss. Sorry, self!)

OK on to the technology and the other 50% of why I went. Workfront added an Agile module to their project planning system.  It has a nice dashboard, and it supports a full agile workflow including backlog, stories and a KanBan burndown report  In addition, it supports a combined waterfall and agile approach, something Jerry Hyde, Workfront account exec, calls it Water-gile.  I think that is appropriate.

We saw very little of the software but we only had 90 minutes and the client testimonials were the “other meat” of the presentation.  If I get a chance to play with the software some, I’ll give you a more in-depth review of it.

Workfront is helping some enterprise clients is a big way!

Sinead Whelan

Sinead Whelan Director, Multimedia Design for Fidelity Investments described transforming an email-string based project planning environment in the fidelity marketing group, which included an in-house agency to full on Workfront. The implementation included 300 employees.  And in just the initial stages of implementation, she estimates a 30% productivity increase. They have only been live since January 4th of this year. Based on the way work was managed in the past, I think she is going to be seeing a much bigger productivity increase as they get more experience with the system.

The second client, Jonathan Kohler,Sr. Business Program Manager & Process Improvement Lead – Operations & Supply Chain at Boston Beer Company, (Wow that is a mouthful!) also described a before-Workfront process, that included a monthly 45-page slide deck to communicate the status of current IT programs in place. Holy Mackeral!  That sounds painful! You need to down some serious Sam Adam’s lagers after that meeting! Now they are using Workfront’s project management system to manage not only IT projects, but the entire engineering staff adopted the program for a total of 100 users. Now, IT requests, large and small, can be requested using the automated communication program resident in the program.  Goodbye, PowerPoint and email!  Pretty sweet.

Both clients described adding more clients to their installation and more integrations. Sinead even described creative types asking to be part of the system.  That is freakish! They also mentioned some inconveniences. I bet that the Workfront team will be addressing those in future releases.

Brent Bird Brent Bird, Sr. Solutions Marketing Manager at Workfront did a nice job first summarizing his life, family and goals including his goal to attend a game in every Major League baseball park to determine which hot dog wins.Bring your Tums Brent!  And then Brent went on to summarize the solution. In terms of how agile got integrated into the system, it was basically Workfront using the solution for themselves. Way to go Workfront for using your own solution! Workfront’s marketing team runs on an Agile/Kanban system. So, the Workfront waterfall system just wasn’t cutting it for marketing.Their requirements were then programmed into the current Workfront solution.

90 minutes later, the luncheon wrapped up on time.  Kudo’s to Workfront and Capital Grille for your timeliness! It was a great luncheon Workfront.  I’m a fan.  I look forward to learning more about your solution and maybe another steak in the future.

3 Huge Benefits for CMO’s who adopt Agile Marketing


Hey, I’m a CMO, I get it. We’ve got a lot to stay on top of:  blogs, events, customer journeys, Account Based Marketing, SEO, SEM, Content Marketing, Relationship Marketing, Advocate Marketing, Influencer Marketing, Mojo Marketing, branding, pricing, customer experience, user experience… we all feel the pain. And it keeps on growing.  Look at my LinkedIn skills section. It looks like a bowl of alphabet soup! (Oh, about the Mojo Marketing, don’t worry. There is no such thing as Mojo Marketing… yet!)

So here comes another thing: Agile Marketing.  Is it a fad or here to stay?   I don’t think I have room for one more thing.  But, maybe this can actually benefit me and my team.

Agile marketing works for me.   In the software business, product life cycles have shrunk from annual to semi-annual to daily. Yes, a new release every day!  How can a one year marketing plan forecast all the change that will happen in a year?  I bet your life isn’t much different.  Cycles are shorter, change is happening quicker.  Agile helps me to adjust to changes that are part of my life.

Agile Marketing was born only four years ago at Sprint Zero  and although it’s gaining traction, Agile still isn’t mainstream.  The  Wrike report: How Marketers Get things done: The State of Agile marketing in 2016 said over 70% of marketers are using some agile techniques but only 14% followed the most basic forms of Agile Marketing . That number jibes with meFew are really practicing Agile Marketing.  But there’s a definite upsurge of late.   Of the 70% that claim to use some Agile, 55% just started during the last six months!

So, Agile is catching on.  And as an early adopter let me share with you my top three reasons you should get on board the Agile Marketing train.

  1. Focus

Agile keeps us focused on important projects.  Most of us will drop the important projects for the most urgent ones.  We get thrown off track by last-minute requests like:

  • The CEO has a great new idea to drive more leads and new sales.
  • Sales needs a new tool, which need to be done, well, yesterday.
  • New lists are required for a current campaign.
  • There’s a fire ablaze at ______.

Last minute and urgent requests will always be part of my life, but I don’t have to let them drive my priorities.

With Agile, you work in sprints lasting one to four weeks.  On day one, all of our priorities for the coming sprint are already fully mapped out. And while we don’t ignore urgent requests, since we assume they will arise, we reserve large chunks of time for our most important priorities. If during the sprint, urgent requests can be accommodated, we complete them during the sprint, but if not, they wait to be prioritized to the next sprint.

And that brings me to the next benefit to Agile Marketing:

  1. Transparency

I’ve got great relationships with our friends in sales, operations and product development. And it’s easy to all love each other when things are going well.

But what about those other times when the “you know what” hits the fan?  Ever heard,“What’s marketing doing?” or “These leads are crap.”  I can’t promise you will never hear it again.  But Agile goes a long way to help bring about more harmony in good times and bad.

Agile Marketing projects are always public – they are literally on the wall for everyone and anyone to see.  Everyone can see exactly what marketing is working on at any given time.  This saves time and improves communication.   This eliminates much of the negative energy that can exist between departments.

There is never a question of what marketing is working on. Instead we invest time in important discussions of product, strategy and tactics.  And we discuss what should be in the next Sprint. (Potential projects for the next Sprint are called the Backlog).  This productive talk leads us to more quickly reaching our mutual goals.

So now to the third benefit of Agile.

  1. Agilityhurdler

I know, “duh.” It’s called Agile Marketing.

Agility is not a lack of planning but the ability to change gears quickly when opportunities change.  Agility doesn’t mean that I don’t have an annual or quarterly plan.   Agile marketing can work within the corporate planning process.  Agile allows me to plan for the unexpected.

Unplanned events can include:

  • Change in corporate strategy
  • Change in the competitive landscape
  • A sudden upturn/downturn in business
  • Changes in partners
  • Political changes
  • Economic changes
  • The loss of an employee

Agile gives me a way to manage these and other changes, because we plan, sprint and review all within a short period of time.  When things change, what could be a large hit to productivity and effectiveness is now simply a zig and zag for our team.

CMO’s like us are too busy not to have a method of managing change.  Agile Marketing allows us to do just that.  We gain more focus, transparency and agility through practicing Agile Marketing.

Want to learn more about my Agile Marketing journey? Check out my interview on the Marketing Agility Podcast

Thanks for reading.  Please honor me with your comments.