According to creative leaders, Agile is growing in popularity among creative teams.
As I mentioned in Part 1 – How Agile is Your Workflow?, I have been reaching out to my network of Creative Directors, Operations Directors, Project Manager, Writers, and Art Directors to gain insights into how creative teams have been changing their workflow processes to keep up with the fast pace and ever-changing demands of the “new” creative landscape.
In my conversations with my fellow creative leaders, one trend that has consistently emerged is Agile methodology in the Creative Workflow environment. This trend of implementing Agile workflows and processes is widespread, even in organizations without large IT teams leading the charge. The digital environment and its sense of urgency has created a demand for a faster way to manage timelines, approvals, and adaptability. For many in-house creative teams, the solution seems to be incorporating Agile in some way, shape, or form into the workflow mix.
Simultaneously in these conversations, my colleagues made it clear that Agile does not work for every type of project, and forcing Creatives to work like Developers is counterproductive.
The most important thing, whether a team is using Agile, Waterfall, or a combination of both, is tracking and documenting the process for future reporting so that teams can learn what works and what doesn’t for different types of projects and tasks. This learning allows creative teams to adapt, evolve, and become more efficient over time.
After surveying over 40 creative leaders, here are 4 key findings:
1. 50% of creative team use a mixture of agile and waterfall workflows. Teams that use primarily Agile tend to be more focused on digital content, while teams that use exclusively Waterfall produce a lot of print materials. Teams that do a mix of both print and digital work, or that are within larger organizations, tend to use a mixture of Agile and Waterfall, depending on the specific project.
2. Of teams that use Agile workflows, half think it’s great, while the other half just pretends to go along. The good news is that no respondents think that an Agile workflow stifles creativity. On the other hand, however, half of the teams that say they are Agile aren’t really Agile. Rather, they tend to just nod their heads during stand up meetings, but otherwise don’t change their processes at all when they get back to their desks.
3. Most teams either use more than one software to help manage their agile process, or they use none at all. This highlights and interesting point: that having an Agile workflow doesn’t necessarily correlate to buying a certain software, and that it is more important for creative teams to start with process to understand their needs before buying software. Most teams will find that workflow software will help them run an Agile process more smoothly, and that consolidating all their work into one software gives them the most streamlined results.
4. Creative teams aren’t in charge of managing their own Agile process. Respondents were split 50/50 between marketing and IT being in charge of managing their Agile process, with 0% reporting that the creative team managed their own process. Likely, this is because many in-house creative teams roll up under marketing in the org chart, and additionally, in many organizations the IT team is in charge of getting the entire company consolidated on one single platform. This lack of creative ownership of the creative workflow is a serious oversight. Marketing teams have different needs in their workflow than the creative team, and the IT team is more interested in finding a “one size fits all” solution for budget and efficiency reasons. This could explain why many creative teams in this survey report a lack of enthusiasm for their Agile process.
As a Creative Director and former Director of Operations, I use a mix of Waterfall and Agile, depending on the specific project. However, regardless of what method I’m using, I prefer to keep all jobs and projects in one software solution, which should contain a client portal, an online review portal, a chat function, and the ability to keep all files and assets managed within the system. I also want the ability to report on key metrics such as project timeline and number of reviews to approval. I don’t mind using an Agile method, but I don’t like having to do it manually or having to use three or four different systems to make it work. Creative work and its partnership with Marketing and IT/Dev is complicated enough. I prefer to keep the process by which it functions as streamlined as possible.
I hope you have found this as interesting and enlightening as I have. Give me your thoughts and let’s keep an open dialogue as we keep our eyes on how creative teams progress through this evolving trend.
About the author: Debbie Kennedy is former Head of Advertising Operations with CarMax, and is currently Creative Director for Capstone Production Group, and CEO of Write for You, a Digital Content and Creative Workflow Consulting Firm based in Durham, North Carolina. She’s been a power user and advocate of inMotionNow since 2014.