Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Digital Agency Project Management Process: Fail

The Agile Manifesto is 10 years old this year. And yet I've never managed a single project using a strict Scrum methodology. And it's my bet, that as long as I continue to work in a digital agency, the odds are, I never will.

And it's not through a lack of understanding of the process.. it's a lack of need. Unless you're one of the minority that work with clients on large scale platforms, retainers and dedicated teams, you're one of the majority that still work with clients that require a clearly defined end product, at a fixed date, for a fixed cost. I pay you this, you give me this. A scenario that is not supported by strict Scrum project management.

And a reason why Digital Agencies continue to use the standard 'Waterfall' method for software development to this day. As a reminder, Waterfall originated in the '70's, as a method for manufacturing and construction. Inherently flawed for software development in 2011. And a processes that guarantees more failures than successes when it comes to delivering projects, on time, on budget. Yes, to reiterate, we work with a process that has a higher probability of failure than success.

Jim Highsmith, coauthor of the Agile Manifesto, provides further insight to why this is in a recent article:

"Engineering, whatever the product, is inherently iterative— think a little, try an experiment, observe the results, revise. Sometimes the iterations are long, sometimes short, but engineers have never really operated on a linear, waterfall model—unless forced to by an organization process."

So with this in mind, as Interactive Producers in Agencies, what's the best method for us? Well.. to get to this it needs to come from one thing we know how to do:


We need to learn from project failures. Each time improve. And know you're not the only one failing. Share failures. Allow others to avoid the same pitfalls. It's time the project management community starts talking and addressing a real problem in our industry. Build learnings and define processes that work within our agency limitations.

I'm going to make an effort to share more of these failures, from myself and others in our industry, on this blog. And from this, develop methods, actions and learnings relevant to digital agency production to increase the percentage of successful projects delivered.


smbcinema said...

Are we trying to develop a 1 size fits all methodology for PM in digital agencies? Would it be better to have a series of methodologies and apply the best one for the project?