At Ample, we strive to provide best-in-class service to our clients while simultaneously ensuring the happiness and success of our internal team. And as our company grew over the last 10 years (we now stand at a proud 24 employees), we realized we needed a new process to account for some growing pains.
A 10-person company allows for efficient 15-minute daily stand-up meetings and easy communication with any employee at any point. Fast forward a few years, add 15 more people, plus a handful of additional clients. At those numbers, well… Good luck to the poor project manager leading stand-up that morning. It was time to adapt! We were able to identify some key changes that needed to be made (hello, separate team stand-ups), but as we delved deeper, we realized there were even more opportunities to build a stronger staff.
With more built-out project management and development teams, we felt encouraged to make the change, so we snapped our fingers and all of our problems disappeared. Okay, well, we tried that and nothing happened so instead we identified our biggest hurdles and brainstormed how we could restructure our teams to operate better.
In an agency world, multitasking is an inevitable and almost-necessary evil. But it can be challenging for our team to recalibrate as they move from client to client and task to task. That left us with the question: How do we limit the constant recalibration and still service a variety of clients?
It never comes as a total surprise when a client wants to shift design, copy, or development direction at the last hour. Those shifts can come as a surprise, though, to the designers, copywriters, and developers working on a deadline. It was time we asked ourselves how we could best win together without compromising quality, timelines, and relationships.
When sourcing our projects, we can’t expect the timelines to always run exactly as we plan. Our previous system lacked clear visibility into team members’ availability for both current and future projects. So we considered what tools were necessary for more accurate forecasting.
Let me state for the record that things are by no means perfect (yet), but we’ve made huge strides in solving our challenges. Aside from the specific goals and resolutions associated with each problem we were eager to solve, we also had to ask ourselves three broader questions.
We earn trust both internally and externally by doing what we say we’ll do. A client asks us to meet a deadline? You got it. But first, we’re going to look at our resourcing and get clearer forecasting from team leads to make sure it’s feasible. Forecasting will also help give insight on staffing needs and ensure we have enough time to hire people we believe in and trust to get the job finished on time and on budget.
To quote our CCO, Kevin Comer: “Plans are made. Process is followed. Goals are accomplished. Celebrations ensue.”
It’s important our team members enjoy what they do and continue to enjoy what they do by protecting their time and craft. When we’re able to reduce context switching, as mentioned above. Our team members are able to approach work with a clear focus and creative energy. After all, the more we love what we do and who we do it with, the more it will be reflected in the work we deliver.
After establishing the values behind our process changes, it was time to put thoughts into action. We had a plan with strong execution, but still left room for each team and individual to adapt to it as they best saw fit. Collaborating is not only key in our day-to-day work, but also to finding our stride in each group.
We assigned each team member to one of three groups, splitting up clients across these groups. On a broader level, each team was to run on agile methodology with a two-week sprint schedule. Each group was responsible then for collaborating and then talking though how they would get their work done within their own specific method of madness. An Executive Sponsor (responsible for high level strategy and client relationship management), Project Manager, and Development Lead were assigned to each team to help offer strategy, guidance and leadership.
We’re in the trial-and-error phase of a major change, so we are giving space for team members to provide feedback and ask questions. We’re accomplishing this with biweekly retros, weekly planning meetings, daily stand-ups, and plenty of opportunities for one-on-one meetings with leadership. And of course we continue to look for opportunities for improvement and will evolve our process as we grow.
Interested in joining a company focused on their employees’ well-being and continued growth? Keep an eye on our careers page!
“Hey Siri, how do I foster a culture of collaboration?”
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