Video Series: Managing a Remote Marketing Team

Day 6 - Process


Let’s talk about process. Because if you want to maximize the output of your team, and if you want strong and consistent results, then you must have clear, well-defined processes.

A process is like a recipe, a set of steps that when followed in order will produce the same result every time.

An effective process has five key elements.

The first is the goal or objective. What is this process trying to produce? What is the output?

The second are the inputs or requirements of the process. Every process will require different things, but often this is a combination of people and resources.

The third are the key stages of the process. Just like a recipe, a process has several stages that are followed in sequence. Each one of these stages must have an individual who is responsible and accountable for that stage.

Fourth, within each of these stages, there are set of tasks or action items that need to be completed in order to mark that stage as complete and move to the next stage within the process.

And finally, every process must have a verification, validation, or QA step to make sure the process has completed its objective and the goal that was set before it.

Just like a recipe, an effective process and must be documented. It must be written down so that it can be shared and universally understood.

In addition, documenting a process has a lot of advantages. When you understand the process, and how it works, and the requirements and stages within it, you can optimize the process to become more efficient, find better ways to collaborate, et cetera.

Marketing, as you know, doesn’t operate in a vacuum. And you often have to handle requests from other departments and interact with those departments, so having clear, well-defined processes for those different types of tasks can be extremely beneficial, and can improve communication and collaboration within and among different departments.

Once you have processes, you need a system to manage them, and the simplest and most effective system I’ve found is Kanban.

Kanban is a system originally developed by Toyota in the 1940s to improve the efficiency of manufacturing, but it has a lot of applications for us today. Kanban emphasizes flow, the ability for tasks or work items to flow through a system continuously and seamlessly. And by its design, Kanban immediately highlights in real time any bottlenecks, so you can address them and resolve them.

In their book ‘Personal Kanban’, which I highly recommend, the authors describe the two primary rules of Kanban.

The first is to visualize your work, and the second is to limit work in progress.

For visualizing your work, this means that all tasks or work items get placed on a Kanban board. This can be a physical board like a whiteboard with Post-it notes, or now there’s lots of tools online, software tools, to have a digital Kanban board.

Once you visualize all of your work and put all these tasks onto a Kanban board, that means that anybody on your team can see all of the tasks. Their current state, who’s working on them, what stage they’re in, et cetera. This immediately provides transparency and accountability. At any point in real time, you can see who’s doing what, where tasks are stuck, and what stage they’re in. This is incredibly helpful for managing your team, your tasks, your work, campaigns, et cetera.

The second rule is to limit your work in progress. If you think of a four lane highway that was filled with cars, bumper to bumper, with no space between them, they couldn’t move at all.

They’d be stuck.

And this is often how we approach our work. We get so many tasks and so many things to work on that nothing moves forward at all.

Conversely, if every car on the road had space in front of it and behind it, then all the cars could move really fast given that they were all moving the same speed.

This is the goal of achieving flow in Kanban, so that tasks can flow quickly and seamlessly through the system. When there are no bottlenecks, this is possible. It’s through Kanban and identify and resolving the bottlenecks that we can achieve this state of flow for tasks.

There is so much more to say about effective processes and the systems to manage them like Kanban.

Your action for today is to choose one of the following: you could either schedule time this week to pick one process, it doesn’t matter what, and document it using those five elements that I outlined earlier. This would be a huge leap forward for your team, and then you can use that document as a template to document other processes.

Or you could schedule time this week to do some research and learn more about Kanban. I highly recommend the book Personal Kanban. It’s easy to read, a quick read, and very informative with lots of examples.

In addition, there are some great software project management tools that support Kanban boards like Trello, JIRA, or if you’re a larger enterprise organization, Pipefy.

Remember that having clear, well-defined processes is essential, but you also need a system to manage them effectively. Consistent results come from clear and well-defined processes.