Let’s start with full transparency. I didn’t stumble on the concept of Agile. My husband, Mark, is a proud member of the Excella team. Over the course of many years (literally) and countless mealtime conversations, I became familiar with Agile and its benefit for IT teams. However, not once in all those years did it occur to me that this mindset might be something that our marketing agency should embrace. Not until we began discussing Agile for non-IT teams. Then the light went off. What if we could develop an Agile program for the agency?
Agile Marketing certainly isn’t a new term – in fact, it’s been a buzz phrase for quite some time. Although, the Agile mindset we are talking about goes beyond being adaptive and churning out projects quickly. Undergoing a complete Agile transformation included learning and understanding the Agile Manifesto; researching Agile methods like Kanban and SCRUM, and being open to honest and transparent communication and continuous improvement.
As a B2B focused agency, it is a natural fit with our client base – software and hardware technology teams. Many of our clients are familiar with Agile and rely on the Manifesto for their development efforts. Clients aware of Agile are really interested to hear that their marketing team carries a similar mindset. For those new to Agile, there is a lot of curiosity around how it works in a marketing environment or in a non-IT workplace.
Initially, we looked at this from the point of view as a business differentiator. And while it is a differentiator, we quickly found out that it’s much more. Benefits to our agency and our clients seem endless, but the biggest impact can be seen in efficiency, workflow awareness and improved internal/external communications. Our non-IT team has a professional services model, so we strive to optimize efficiency for ourselves, but most importantly for our clients.
Most non-IT functional teams, whether HR, finance or legal, will have internal and external customers. Regardless of the customer, we all need to work efficiently to deliver value and exceed expectations. Agile helps us do that by providing the process to monitor, prioritize, adapt and report on workflow.
Through daily data mapping activities in a dashboard we can understand how long a work product takes to develop and complete, whereas before, we were using and relying on our experience to guide decisions. Additionally, we can take it a step further and quickly and accurately estimate the completion time based on the other workflow items. For example, we now have data on how long it takes to develop a blog when three other pieces of content are already in the workflow. Or, what it looks like if something needs to be expedited when we have high-priority items in the workflow. Our Kanban Board helps us work with clients to make informed and meaningful decisions prior to committing. The benefit? We decrease the rate of overdue deadlines and increase the rate of happy customers.
There are many more examples like this in our Agile life, but we didn’t get here all on our own or through mealtime conversations with spouses. We had to find a Sherpa. Someone who could help us with our baggage, know the basecamp stops, understand the path ahead and envision what the summit looks like. Our next post will cover what to look for in a coach and how it makes a difference in adoption and adaptation.