Project Management

How to Become an Agile Agency

Nov 18, 2021
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This is a word that is thrown around a lot in today’s startup and small business world.

But what does it mean?

And more so, what does it mean for agencies?

We are going to be real with you: Becoming an agile agency doesn’t mean throwing up a Kanban board in a project management system and saying, “okay, we are ‘agile’ now”, or even implementing an agile project management framework.

Yes, those are agile practices, but operating as an agile organization or agency is a different ball game.

In this article, we will explain more about what it means to become an agile agency, and how to do it.

How to Become Agile

What Does “Being Agile” Actually Mean?

Being agile requires two things: principles and a mindset.

This requires setting and following agile principles. After all, principles are like laws of gravity; they are set in stone and don’t really evolve. This seems counterintuitive, especially since the very definition of agile is the ability to evolve and change.

5 Steps for Becoming an Agile Agency

1. Change your mindset. Sure, when we talk about “agile”, we are talking about a specific project management framework. However, at its core, “agile” is actually a mindset. And this is where most teams and organizations fail to fully grasp and understand what it means to “be agile”. This requires changing your thinking and being open to new ideas and the idea of change.

Yes, change can be scary, but it can also completely transform an organization, for the better.

2. Be open to change. Similar to the point above about adopting a new mindset, you also have to be open to change, and by that we mean behavioral changes. Not only does this mean changing the way you work, but also how you think about work.

For example, you might want to ask yourself or your team, where do my current beliefs about life and work come from, and do they still serve me today? Will my assumptions support my future self? Is the way we do things necessary?

To be open to change and to change your way of thinking, you have to make time for more reflective thinking.

3. Become a “learning” organization. Similar to the points mentioned above, becoming a learning organization means trying new things, tapping into curiosity and encouraging team members to do the same, or experimenting with new ideas and ways of working, and seeing what approach(es) produce the best results. This also means not coming down on team members when mistakes or errors are made. Rather than focusing or highlighting failure, think about what you can learn from mistakes and how you can apply that learning to improve.

4. Establish principles. As mentioned above, in addition to mindset, the second most important element of “being agile” is establishing principles that promote “agile” mindsets and behavior across the organization.

Of course, principles look different for every organization because essentially they should be tied to the organization’s mission. But what is considered an “agile” principle? Start by referring to the “Agile Manifesto” to get a feel for what the core agile principles look like at a higher level.

5. Hyperfocus on execution. Many business or agency owners are creatives or “ideas” people. This means they have a wealth of new, creative, and innovative ideas, but struggle with actually acting on them.

However, by focusing on execution you can then bring those ideas to life, rather than watching them go to waste. To do this, focus on what are known as “lead” measures, or the actions or little things that need to be done—that are both predictive and influenceable—to act on them, and get them into the roadmap.

When Will an Agile Transformation Fail?

Becoming an agile agency may appear to be a seamless transformation, but it’s not always an easy task to achieve. Following the five steps above can certainly help you succeed, but everyone has to be on board and on the same page. Once team members start to question the process changes or try to realign the end goal, it’s difficult to stay on track.

Here are a few factors that most commonly derail an agile transformation:

1. Executives think it takes too long. Everyone wants to prove to their boss that they’re doing a good job and deserve their position. The easiest way to do this is to show results quickly and frequently. However, remember that in many cases agile transformation is a completely new way of working. It can take time for team members to adjust to new ways of learning, working, and thinking. Therefore, when it comes to “going agile”, results are anything but quick and frequent.

2. Strictly focus on changing the process. Mapping out steps in the process is just the start of an agile transformation. As mentioned in the first step, changing your mindset requires the entire team to change the way they think, act, and work with one another. If team members think they can just follow a checklist, then the results and outcomes of your transformation will come up short.

3. Mimicking others instead of thinking for yourself. Just because the process worked for another company, doesn’t mean you can simply follow their process without making changes tailored to your team and your business.

How to Deploy Agile Project Management

Agile Project Management

To deploy agile project management, an organization has to be ready for change. The methodology represents a significant change in how an organization works and thinks, how projects are delivered and how an organization does business. And the cold, hard truth is that not every organization is ready or mature enough to become agile.

Here is what you can do to help you determine if your organization is ready to become agile, and how to deploy it:

Step 1. Take an agile readiness assessment. To determine whether or not an organization is ready to become agile, this can be assessed and measured through a readiness assessment. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), this includes asking seven questions to help give an organization a sense of the time and effort agile implementation could take, the processes that need to be developed and put into place, and the necessary resources, skill sets, and metrics to support those processes and initiatives.

Step 2: Develop agile standards. If your organization shows readiness in the area of agile, then the next step is to develop agile standards and templates.

For example, this can include allocating dedicated resources to certain projects or accounts, such as product owners, account owners, or project leaders. Ideally, these resources should have a firm grasp of agile and understand what agile means to the organization. This should also include adopting tools and software, building agile processes, establishing the right meeting cadences, and more.

Step 3: Introduce the agile methodology to the organization. This step not only involves communicating that the organization is moving towards agile, but that team members and leaders understand what the agile methodology is and what it means in terms of behaviors. The goal here is to provide sufficient training across the organization so that all understand new processes, standards, and expectations.

Furthermore, leaders must also make a commitment to ensure that agile becomes a core part of the organizational culture.

The Benefits of Becoming an Agile Agency

After deploying agile, agencies can expect to see the following benefits:

  • Greater customer satisfaction
  • Increase in sales and revenue
  • Reduction in waste
  • Improved collaboration and communication
  • Increased adaptability to change
  • Greater organizational flexibility
  • Improved quality
  • Higher-quality outputs (products, services, and customer support)
  • Improved productivity and velocity
  • Better equipped to handle risks (which means fewer budget overruns, and lower technical debt)

Agile Agency

Find the Right Tool to Support Your Agile Agency

Organizations of all types are beginning to understand what it takes to keep pace in today’s economy, and that’s leading to a broad adoption of agile project management. Of course, adopting an agile approach and mindset and principles are just two important elements of agile, utilizing the right tools to support your team can be a game-changer.

Select a workflow management tool that allows you to build agile processes. Rindle is a workflow management tool with a variety of easy-to-use features and functionalities that allow teams and agencies to build processes, put them into practice, and execute without a huge learning curve, adoption time and investment, or coding.

Check out Rindle and give it a try for free today and take the steps to become an agile agency tomorrow.