Adopting Agile methods within in-house agencies is a priority for many marketing and creative teams, given its promise to improve productivity, boost innovation, support changing priorities, better align deliverables with business objectives, and speed products to market. An Agile approach can also deliver projects that better address the customer's needs and interests - customer centricity.

In-house agency teams often find it challenging and cumbersome to wholesale adopt the formal rituals and talent dedication required by Agile's most popular [software development] approach, Scrum. IHA teams need a new vision of Agile that delivers the promised benefits while being adaptable to their specific activities, project types and "shared" resources. This new vision interprets Agile not as an immutable, singular dogma, but instead, as an inclusive Agile "disposition" - Agile Application. Through this new lens, IHA teams are liberated to adapt elements from Agile Scrum or Kanban or traditional Waterfall, into custom, hybrid approaches.

To choose the best approach, teams should have a broad and deep understanding of these formal methodologies and know the benefits of what each has to offer. Then they can best adopt elements to suit their business environment. Consulting with a project management process expert is an ideal place to start your Agile journey and to empower your team to become Agile adopters.

The Pitfalls of Agile for Creative Teams

Transforming the way people work and think to be more "Agile" has been challenging for many teams for at least five key reasons: lack of in-house expertise, inconsistent Agile practices, general resistance to change, insufficient training and ongoing support, as well as lack of supporting tools. Bringing most benefits of Agile to life in your in-house agency (IHA) is possible. But knowing where the demons lurk along your quest will help you prepare for success. Remember to create an action plan to address each one of these factors that pose critical risks to your rollout.

Elements of a Sucessful Agile Adoption

When considering adopting Agile for your in-house agency remember there are five key factors to help you position your team for a successful rollout:

  • Hire or appoint from within, an expert Change Manager to architect and lead your rollout.
  • Engage an Agile expert to design and codify your team's approach, to lead training, to iterate and optimize your program over time and to manage continued adoption and compliance.
  • Apply the most appropriate process methods to best manage your simplest to most complex projects.
  • Adopt approaches to using Agile that are realistic and recognize how available your teams are to dedicate themselves to single projects for certain periods of time.
  • Provide the team with the best project management software and associated training and support, to help them manage process and communications.

How Are Other Teams Using Agile - Scrum vs. Kanban

There are two commonly used forms of Agile known as Scrum and Kanban, and many other lesser-known varieties. How to apply the right Agile approach to creative development is not a straight lift and fit for IHA or marketing teams. "The three most common practices being used by Agile marketing teams are user stories (51%), frequent releases (47%), and retrospectives (43%).

According to Cella's 2019 In-House Creative Industry Report, 23% of the in-house agencies say they use some form of Agile methodology. Of those that use Agile, 49% are managing less than 30% of their work with Agile methodologies. 54% are using Scrum, 32% Kanban and 38% have adopted a hybrid approach. According to a 2018 Cella Agile Pulse survey, 86% of teams have been using Agile for under 2 years. As you can see, a lot of recent experimentation is occurring and as of now, no one best practice has emerged.

With the many potential benefits of Agile we definitely believe it's worth the risk to apply Agile principles and methodologies to appropriate workflows. Cella believes that certain types of projects work well with Agile while others don't. Agile Scrum works well with high level Tier 1 concepting, large web, interactive and application development projects. Agile Kanban works better with Tier 3 maintenance projects. For Tier 2, Cella has found that a hybrid approach has proven to be more appropriate. Don't be afraid to experiment and don't be afraid to ask for expert help.

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