The client who expects results does not worry about the work methodology of the person they hired to achieve them. But, what happens in a vertiginous world, of abrupt market changes and volatile social opinions? Countless contextual modifications can happen in the space between a client explaining his idea and it actually being carried out. A change of direction from traditional methodologies is necessary.
In the last 30 years, agile methodologies have gained ground in the world of software planning and startups, generating a change in work culture in almost all areas of the market. How has the work structure of advertising and marketing agencies been affected?
What is Agile Methology?
Agile methodologies stand out for the possibility of adapting the work to the real conditions of the project, and with flexibility and immediacy, responding by adapting the development to constant feedback from the client and their environment. The objective is to be able to provide the customer with deliverables of superior quality, according to the demanding market, and to do it in the fastest, clearest and most precise way possible.
Therefore, the internal model of the agency is configured in tangible, correctable tasks, and divided between the corresponding areas. Specifically, it is the iteration of 3 basic tasks:
1) Understand the client’s needs.
2) Translate them into specific and realistic stages of work and tasks.
3) Communicate to the client the estimate of time and resources to carry them out. The cycle is repeated until the end of the project.
There exists a plurality of agencies that boast of having an agile methodology but saying that one is agile and being agile are really two different things. There are more and more agencies that manage to change towards an agile culture in an efficient way, although they are even more of those that do not have the experience and the time required to achieve it. The difficulties of applying this methodology in advertising and marketing are complex but not impossible to overcome.
Considerations when applying Agile Methology
- Every client is different: Implementing a scrum, for example, developing a product, is not the same as doing it in an agency. Since each client has its particularities, a highly articulated matrix is required to achieve the rhythmic influence required to meet internal objectives in the face of disparate requests.
- Modification of positions: agile culture cannot function in an environment with traditional hierarchies. The tasks that depend on a Project Manager, are the entire team, and there are those who no longer believe the position is necessary, arguing that achieving the objectives is a responsibility of the entire team equally.
- Labor Burn-out: today we work by objectives and not by hours, an attractive point in general, but the impact of mismanagement of human resources is beginning to be seen. A rushed Scrum Master leads saturated employees with tasks and poorly calculated times, which means mediocre deliverables and a bad work environment. George S. Patton has said “A good plan, executed violently today, is better than a perfect plan executed next week,” an argument used to defend these principles. It is one of the most debated sides of the agile manifesto. Is there a loss of clarity and quality when dividing projects into concrete and simple work units?
If it is possible to implement a transversal change, with clear communication and policies, with an agile culture, it is possible to achieve superior results than those achieved with a linear process.
Benefits of Working with Agile Culture
Expected modifications: Without a static linear process, natural changes by the client (either because the desired project became unfeasible, the competition launched a similar product, etc.) are harmoniously integrated into the process.
- Constant feedback: Deliveries are faster and of better quality, the deviations from the final objective are less, therefore better use is made of the agency’s resources.
- Happier employees: An agile team achieves a connection between members from different areas and profiles, they tend to be happier by being up-to-date with the agency’s global projects and a good work environment. Performing better without the weight of the uncertainty of long-term customer approval.
- Added Value: In this framework, constant communication with the client is achieved, who sees flexible and efficient responses to their changing demands, who obtains good quality deliverables and are adjusted to their objectives. Agile work also gives a valuable plus to the customer experience, by involving them in the process, the feedback provides clarity in their own internal processes.
Let’s pay attention to the Aperto agency, based in Zurich. With six years of experience with this methodology, almost three on the way, all aspects of the work have changed. From the physical installation of a Kanban board to clarify current projects, to cultural ones, with a turn towards the “pull” principle. The fruits of these changes can be seen in the many awards received with its successful campaigns for Coca-Cola Germany.
The Spaniards from the Waka agency, who are also recognized as agile, highlight the excellent environment they have within their work teams and the high degree of satisfaction of their clients. They have managed to better administrate all the resources they have, and two years ago they became sponsors of the Madrid Fugaz awards for short films.
Whether agile methodologies are the answer to the internal problems of advertising agencies remains to be seen. But if there is something we can be assured of, it is that we are in a world where social relations and the value of people prevail and to accompany this new conception, deep, laborious and demanding transversal changes are required, and still necessary to be able to adapt to the market current and customer demands.