We live and breathe agency life. Spending every day working with clients in dozens of industries with a wide-range of different projects is what gets us up in the morning. However, working in an agency comes with its own unique set of challenges, particularly in the area of organization. Luckily, we pride ourselves on never missing deadlines. How do we do it? We use an organizational project management tool called scrum, which is a simple but effective framework that helps teams visualize their workload and makes it easier to work on multiple projects simultaneously.
A subset of agile, scrum methodology is an entirely team-based approach to project management. Because agencies have many different departments and people responsible for completing work in each project, scrum puts those departments into one team where every person serves a different role.
Every task within a project is broken down into pieces and assigned to specific departments. For example, say we are building a website. We will have a card for a homepage mockup assigned to a graphic designer, homepage content assigned to the marketing team, homepage coding assigned to a developer, and homepage testing assigned to quality assurance personnel. Because these tasks are moving between departments and team members, everyone must be on the same page and have the information necessary to complete their piece of the project. That’s where meetings come in.
As we mentioned, projects change hands so often that it may seem difficult to know what’s been completed. That’s why part of scrum methodology is holding scrum meetings and planning meetings. Every Friday, we hold a planning meeting with the entire team where we plan out the work for the following week. This is our opportunity to talk about what work we completed this week, what issues we encountered, and what’s important to know about each project going into the following week. Team members will provide notes and next steps on all items that are being assigned for the following week, so there is no delay, misinformation, or missing information when the task moves to another department or team member.
Then, throughout the week, we hold a short 15-minute scrum meeting every day. That is when every team member discusses what they completed the previous day and what they are assigned to complete that day. It also provides an opportunity for each person to bring up any roadblocks they face, so we can quickly address them and move forward. These meetings are crucial to ensure every team member and department is on the same page for every project and client.
Since we are planning an entire week’s worth of work one day a week, it is crucial that we set realistic expectations for what our team can accomplish each week without working long hours. That’s where points come in. Each task, no matter how big or small, gets assigned a point value from one to 10. The point value is based on time and difficulty to complete. For example, to complete that homepage of the website we talked about earlier, the point breakdown would be five points for a homepage mockup, three points for homepage content, six points for homepage development, and two points for homepage testing. Because of those points, everyone knows how many points are assigned to every team member, and we can ensure we don’t overfill anyone’s schedule.
We also use points for our client contracts as well. When we sign contracts with clients, we use a points system rather than a number of hours. That means, rather than signing a contract for 30 hours a month for web design or marketing services, our clients sign a contract for 50 points per month. Those points then correlate with the tasks within the scope. For example, a marketing client may sign on for 30 points a month. From there, they can use three blogs at three points a piece, social for each of those blogs at two points a piece, a landing page to correlate with their campaign at seven points, two Facebook ads at three points, and copywriting at five points total. Then, there is no disagreement over something taking longer than expected. Upfront, our clients know the point value for each tactic, so they know exactly what they are getting each month.
We have found using a point system keeps both the client and internal team happy and in the loop. Thanks to the scrum methodology, we have never missed a deadline, and our clients have developed a strong, trusting relationship where they know exactly what they are getting every week. Want to learn more about how scrum can help your business? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you get started!