Digital marketing agencies can feel like a three ring circus.
You have multiple clients accessing multiple services–PR, advertising, content marketing, inbound marketing, website development, graphic design and more. OK that’s more than three rings. Keeping projects on time, on budget, and on scope, and delivering great work that helps clients’ businesses grow, can be a serious challenge. Doing this require excellent project management and internal communication. These are things a client doesn’t normally see. If you’re considering hiring an agency to help with your company’s digital marketing initiatives, you might want to ask about the processes they use to manage projects and keep them moving smoothly from planning to production. If they don’t have one, be concerned.
Here at Alaniz Marketing we have implemented an agile* production system.
Agile is a project management and delivery system poplar with IT and software development projects. It guides you through a process that breaks down every project into the smallest tasks, so that you can schedule and scope very precisely. It also provides a much better idea of the actual work and time that it will take to complete a project, and makes it easy to assign work to create a schedule with confidence. It also helps you, the client to understand all that you are paying for, because there is often more to a project than you might think.
We’ve found that once we break down the project into the smallest steps we can, we can more accurately estimate the time required to get the job done, and create a reasonable schedule and be fully accountable to keeping it. We also can give you, the client, a very clear and realistic view of what we will need from you, and when. This makes for a much more predictable process, and sets the client and the agency up to have an extremely productive relationship.
Another aspect of the agile process is assigning a cost factor–sometimes called “points”–to every task. These are not hours or dollars, but estimates of the time and effort required for each task. This helps a client prioritize and allocate budget in way that will maximize their highest priorities. Take website development, for example. Keyword research is a standard part of website design that can take a great deal of time. This might be critical to a client seeking traffic growth as a critical success factor. For others, traffic is not so critical as conversion of traffic into leads, so calls to action are more important. Estimating the time value required for each task gives a client control of how their budget is being allocated, and gives them the flexibility to make changes based on what will get them the most value based on their marketing priorities.
When looking to outsource marketing projects or campaigns, you would be well served by inquiring about a firm’s project management system and process. Process is just as important as the end product. A great website delivered months behind schedule is not a great product. The benefits of a strong system can be powerful–clients get higher quality work, high productivity, budget certainty and efficiency, and the flexibility to prioritize and achieve their most important goals.
*Notice that I use the word agile with a lowercase “a.” That’s because agile is not a product, but an approach. There are products out there designed to assist with agile project management implementation. More on those later.