Blog Series: Project Management Contenders

How to Choose & Optimize Your Project Management Method: Part 2 of 4 - Weighing Your Options

30-Aug 2019

In order to run a thriving digital agency, you have to prioritize what matters to your company. Starting with the glowing service you provide to your clients, the quality of work you deliver to them, excellent team utilization and scheduling, employee resources that help set your team up for success, and of course maintaining profitability. 

About 53% of Accelo's own agency clients reported meeting project deadlines and their client delivery as their most important success metrics. By adopting a project management method, there's a consistent game plan when it's time to planning, executing, and delivering your client work successfully. Depending on your agency's particular priorities, what project management style best suits your needs?

In our most recent, "Agency Growth Webinar - Best Practices: Project Management for Content," Accelo's Partnerships & Channel Director, Alex Guest reviewed four popular project management styles with Paul Zalewski, VP of Marketing at Verblio - a content creation platform that helps agencies, businesses, and digital marketers create content for SEO, content marketing, inbound marketing, and more. 

Check out highlights from their presentation to learn about the values of each project management method - Agile, Lean, Kanban, and Waterfall -  to not only help manage your content better, but these principles can be widely applied to meet your various digital agency and service business's operational needs. Get even more details and view the full webinar in the video.

Agile Project Management: The Flexible Method Born from Waterfall's Drawbacks

While Waterfall is known for its firm project management approach, Agile is designed to be more adaptive when it comes to planning. It's the understanding that if you stick to a more rigid structure, you're more likely to get caught up somewhere in the process. The focus is on how to be more evolutionary in the development, or iterative, and find a cycle of continuous improvement as you progress. 

The Agile "Manifesto"

The Agile Manifesto was created in 2001 by 17 different software practitioners who despite their differing opinions, agreed that companies at that time were too preoccupied planning and documenting their software development cycles instead of what truly mattered—making the customer happy. And from this revelation, the Agile Manifesto was born, these four core values aimed to improve the ways of developing software while prioritizing your customer:

  • Individuals & Interactions > processes and tools

  • Working Software > comprehensive documentation

  • Customer Collaboration > contract negotiation

  • Responding to Change > following a plan 

Leverage these principles to encourage employees to work together effectively, collaborate on early and continuous delivery of valuable deliverables, with simplicity, testing, and retrospectives in mind for every cycle. When it comes to incorporating Agile to your marketing structure, make sure the individual work you and your teammates are doing on a day-to-day basis aligns all the way to your strategic goals. 

Lean Project Management: The Method that Drives Efficiency & Cut the Waste

The Core Concepts
1. Understand Value

It's critical for agencies to better understand how they provide value to their clients. Evaluate and start by asking yourself, how often do you ask your clients the value you're building for them? Was it only when they were coming on board, and who are you asking? Don't just limit yourself to talking to the owners, ask the doers and get eclectic perspectives to better serve your customers. 

2. Map the Value Stream

For our visual learners, mapping the value stream is a dynamic way to see the whole picture. Utilize different platforms to visualize your process e.g. LucidChart,, and Google Slides. Create workflows, design graphics related to business processes, it can be written, helping you cover all the bases.

3. Ensure the Value Stream Flows

Avoid spikes in production. Take a look at how much your team can produce effectively and efficiently. If you overload them, you run the risk of bottlenecking problems. With continuous flow, set accurate expectations across the team. 

4. Demand Drives Production

When Demand Creates Supply - the Requirements: 

1) Accurate Understanding of Client Needs

2) Quick to Adapt or Begin Production

3) Set Expectations & Predict Delivery

4) Effective Coordination & Information


5. Continuous Improvement

A big aspect of incorporating lean is eliminating the 7 wastes: overproduction, overprocessing, waiting, defects, labor resources (inventory), movement (transportation), and overengineering (motion). 

Once you get to the end stages, improvement takes priority. Evaluate each waste category throughout the process and determine what you and your agency can do better to avoid each one. In terms of content, you have to produce various pieces of content, see what performs the best - from words, to format, to channel, measure success, and really hone in the way you generate your work. 

Kanban Project Management: The Method that Prioritizes the Visual Aspects

Kanban comes from the Japanese word, signboard or billboard. One of the key principles of Kanban is presenting project management visually, to look at a project from end-to-end, and understand how work moves through it. This method helps with decision-making, work is pulled as capacity permits vs. work being pushed as requested. 

Kanban Principles: 
  1. How do we display information visibly? 
  2. How do we move work through a system, in a way that is most effective? 

Instead of work being pushed onto individuals, individuals can pull in work when they have they have the bandwidth. Typically for a Kanban Board, items typically move left to right in increments determined by 'stages' or 'states.' The units that 'move' and the decisions that are made are on deliverables, features, or in this case content. 

Waterfall Project Management: The Traditional Method, Learn How to Improve it

The Waterfall method prioritizes requirements and structured plans, because of it's rigid nature, it's known to not handle changes well. Despite its firm approach, if you are a longtime fan of the Waterfall, try applying Lean principles to make your experience even better: 

Start by identifying four potential wastes based off of how Waterfall is structured, such as overprocessing, defects, waiting, and overengineering (motion). To eliminate waste, make sure you're coordinating effectively, and you have a delivery team in place who is prepared and ready to help along the way and stay on schedule. 

Whether you're a fan of Agile's flexibility, love to cut out waste with the Lean structure, enjoy the visual aspects embraced by Kanban, or are a loyal follower to the Waterfall method, Accelo's platform gives you the tools you need to really optimize your method of choice. Try Accelo today! 

Watch the full "Agency Growth Webinar - Best Practices: Project Management for Content" below:

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