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How Tempo's Marketing Stays Agile: Listen, Measure, Update, Program

Tempo has come a long way from the first fledgling version of our time tracking plugin for JIRA, Tempo Timesheets, which we created for internal use in 2007. Since then, we have greatly expanded the capabilities of Tempo Timesheet and branched out into new terrain with Tempo Planner and Tempo Books. The days of Tempo Timesheets as a basic time tracking tool for development teams are gone, and is now a mature and versatile solution for resource planning, project management, data analysis, and more.

With Tempo Planner, we provide a dimension of resource, capacity, release, project, and program planning, seamlessly into your JIRA instance. With Tempo Books you gain flexible financial reporting, utilization and portfolio management. Tempo Books is essential component of our enterprise solution, especially when combined with Tempo Timesheets and Tempo Planner.

Simultaneous to our growth, our users have grown and diversified, and departments outside of the development environment have discovered the utility of our agile solutions. At Tempo, we are constantly learning of new ways in which our customers are applying our products for ‘non-traditional’ uses — for instance, using JIRA and Tempo as a help desk (like Nyherji does), and for their sales and marketing teams (like Red Bricks Media does). Some have taken it a step further and customized our solutions to fit their needs, such as our Norwegian friends at Resightwho have combined it with a map plugin for specialized mobile use in the field.

People are using no longer using Timesheets simply for client billing purposes but for internal payroll, budgeting, and measuring capitalization (such as for new product development and IT) -- and Tempo is no exception. We have also found ways to adapt Tempo Timesheets’ new Account feature - by setting projects up as an “accounts” to gain the benefits of that overview. We set internal costs up as categories and through Tempo Books we are able to see the expenses and revenue as a monetary value rather than time.

Tempo’s own marketing team uses JIRA, JIRA Agile, and Tempo Timesheets for project management, planning, and time tracking, and we thought we’d share some of our processes for those looking for alternate uses for Tempo. We also use other of Atlassian’s products for interdepartmental communication and team collaboration, such as HipChat and Confluence. Like our development team, our marketing team has adopted Agile methodologies, so our aim is to always maintain our competitive edge through an efficient workflow and deliver quality results.

group photo of Tempo's marketing team

Using Kanban boards in JIRA Agile

While our development teams generally work in JIRA Agile, using Scrum with (generally) bi-weekly or monthly sprints, we use its Kanban boards for its temporal flexibility. Our marketing team is on the small side but we wear many hats and priorities shift frequently. We have learned, through trial-and-error, that things inevitably pop up that need to be addressed ASAP, and Kanban allows us to re-prioritize our issues efficiently and optimally, without making us feel overburdened by time.

We create issues in JIRA as we would assign tasks to members of our team. Some marketing tasks require the assistance of our in-house graphic designer or a developer, so assigning those tasks allows us to plan people’s time, keep track of the status of those tasks, and it lets our project managers know what their team is working on. The Kanban has swimlanes which are divided by team member and his/her role. That filter is in use, so we can prioritize right on the board.

Working in Kanban allows us to prioritize our tasks and alter them as needs change. We can easily view what’s in the pipeline, what is currently in process, what’s ready for publication, and what’s recently been completed. Once we’ve completed all of the tasks on a Kanban board, we’ll close it out.

Planning With Tempo and JIRA

Our marketing team meets on a weekly basis to review last week’s assignments, those that need to be completed over the coming week, and whether any difficulties or circumstances have arisen which would require us to re-prioritize our tasks. In these meetings, we also flesh out the details. If we have a particular blog post in mind, we might need the help of a video production team (or a professional water-splatterer like for this project), a member of our QA team, or a developer to help us with specialized marketing content or web development.

We can contemplate the steps that are involved, and include the participants needed in the JIRA issue. If we require the help of someone outside of our immediate department, we can plan their time, and, with Tempo Timesheets’s planning approvals process, request approval of their time from their immediate supervisor. And, if they are within the Tempo team, we can plan their time on the specific task to give them a heads up of when we’ll be needing them.


screenshot of Tempo marketing kanban

Campaigns and Events

Currently we are relying on Confluence to manage releases and events by setting them up as epics through JIRA Agile. However, we have got a number of marketing projects on our plate at any given time, and we are starting to create separate Kanban boards in Jira Agile for each campaign or project. That way we can better keep all JIRA issues associated with projects defined and organized. That way we can have a board for a product page that we are updating and fleshing out and another for general marketing issues (blog posts, customer evaluations, tutorials, etc.).

Considering all of the details and manpower that goes into a single campaign or event (e.g., creating the next issue of the Tempo Times, designing the new Tempo tee, or building a social media campaign focused on an upcoming Atlassian Summit), this process eases our pain by making our work transparent, collaborative, organized, and flexible. With Tempo Timesheets, our Product and Marketing Manager can easily plan and view our planned time, and adjust projects and schedules as needs and plans change. Then, our team keeps track of time spent on each issue/task, which, based on the workload scheme that we're assigned to, is tied to our organization’s payroll.

screenshot of Tempo Marketing conference page in Confluence


Brainstorming Ideas

We often use Confluence to brainstorm our blog topics for Tempo releases and campaigns to flesh out the details, but once we’ve agreed to a tentative plan of action, we’ll add it to JIRA and assign it to our Kanban board. More often than not, any marketing project will involve a number of pairs of eye — for blog posts, for instance, we might need screenshots, videos, graphics, or customized HTML, which may involve our graphic designer, QA guru, developer, and technical writer.

We also like to mix it up with blog posts from various members of our team, so assigning posts to them in JIRA and planning time for them to work on it is important, since it often diverts team members from their other projects and provides valuable insight directly from the development trenches. Overall, JIRA, JIRA Agile, Confluence, and Tempo keep our marketing team organized, planned, and on track.

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