My Relationship Status With Agile

It’s complicated.

As director of technology for a web agency, I’ve entered a complicated relationship with one whom I’ve known for years — Agile. We all know a version of “agile” and I am sure we’ve all had our fair share of good ones and bad ones. Some people cringe when that name is spoken, others release a glimpse of relief when the name “waterfall” does not hit their ears.

These mixtures of emotions amongst individuals has been one of the most challenging obstacles to converting our internal processes from a standard “fixed-fee you get everything in your requirement document by this date regardless if it’s actually what you want by the time we deliver it” TO “a continuously satisfied customer who provides input and feedback throughout the project and knows value is being added every step of the way” project. It’s been especially challenging as we work with many clients making this transition — but it’s strengthened our trust and helped us understand our customers more and more each day.

I Do — Agile. It’s a commitment and everyone has their own understanding of what that commitment looks like from their past experiences. Most people claim to know how agile works, but after marrying Agile to many projects — that relationship is always different. There are always variables:

  • Who actually understands story points?
  • What is the right form of communication throughout a project?
  • Who on a client side is taking ownership of their action items?
  • How is budget and scope planned and managed?

Every client we onboard begins a new relationship with us. A relationship we continue to tweak our processes and communications in an attempt to address these mixed ideas of what it means to be Agile. Just like any relationship — I don’t expect that process to ever halt. I do believe that implementing Agile as a project management framework in an agency setting has helped us connect with clients and build that foundation of trust and transparency required for building great things together.

Andrew Dederich is the Director of Technology at 601am, which helps online publications design and develop comprehensive digital strategies.

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