During your time wandering through the digital landscape, you may have heard the term ‘agile’ being thrown about. Companies across the globe now tout it as one of their primary focuses – but what does it mean to be agile, and how does it apply to agencies?
Being agile is all about adhering to the agile principles of iterative development, where projects take shape ‘through collaboration between self-organising, cross-functional teams’.
It’s renowned across the land (pun not intended) as the best methodology for software development, and the term has gained so much momentum over recent years that everyone in digital now strives to be agile.
There are numerous ways to be agile – from Scrum to Kanban, Lean Programming to Feature-Driven Development – and it’s enough to make you dizzy from all the different options available.
The most popular method, however, is Scrum, due to how simple it is to understand. Work is divided into sprints, which provides shorter feedback loops and allows teams to quickly (note: in an agile manner) adapt their work.
That doesn’t mean Scrum is the perfect solution for all, though. In fact, one of the biggest problems with Agile and Scrum is that they were created with in-house development teams in mind – meaning some of the processes don’t always apply so easily to agency teams.
However, here at Land, we’ve adapted a mix of the Scrum and Kanban methodology to make sure we deliver projects quicker, with better results – leaving us with much happier clients. Here’s how we did it:
The most obvious step, and the way most agencies have adapted agile, is to use Kanban boards. To help us visualise our workloads, we use the project management tool, Asana. Each client or project will have their own dedicated board, with columns along the lines of To Do, Doing and Done.
In the To Do column, we’ll add all of the tasks (almost like a virtual post-it note) that we need to complete. Then, as we work on that particular task, we’ll move it to the relevant column. Is it in progress? Stick it in Doing. Sent it to the client for review? Drag that bad boy over to the With Client column!
It means that, at any one time, someone can review the board and see how a project is progressing.
Every morning, one of the first tasks on everyone’s list is to get together in their respective departments for a 15-minute daily standup. It’s exactly as the name suggests: everyone stands up and discusses what they’ve got planned for the day.
The aim is to prevent the meeting from being unnecessarily long, as, after all, who wants to stand for 30 minutes? Each member of the team takes it in turns to discuss what they’re currently working on, and it’s also an opportunity to alert the rest of the team to anything they may have concerns about or need assistance with.
In the development team, we use the standup to update our physical Kanban board. We use this board as a ‘god’s view’ of all the work we have ongoing, so we can make sure that one person isn’t overwhelmed with too many projects at any one time.
A key part of the Scrum ethos is inspecting the work you’ve completed and adapting as quickly as possible to make sure a project doesn’t deviate outside of the acceptable limits. Sprint reviews are hugely helpful in allowing us to do this.
These reviews happen at the end of a sprint, but we also have similar reviews (referred to as ‘retrospectives’) at the end of a project and once a month as a team.
We’ll set a cap of one hour on these meetings and, in them, we’ll discuss:
- What went well and what didn’t
- What we need to change
- How to implement any agreed changes
We then make sure we create actions out of these points and assign them to a team member to guarantee that it happens. Usually, these actions take the form of a process change, and we make sure to action them quickly so that we can fail fast.
In true agile fashion, we’re always on the lookout for ways to adapt other elements, and we’re always testing, failing fast, and testing again. But for now, we’ve used the above three elements to incorporate an agile approach, allowing us to work more efficiently and deliver more value for our clients.
Want to find out more about how the Land Digital team delivers efficient project outcomes across digital development, design and marketing? Give us a call on 0191 2111922 to speak to a member of our agile team.