Digital Transformation

How the agency’s role is changing

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Ready for agile work

Digitalization is not just changing business models, but also the way agencies and their clients collaborate. Mathias Reinhardt, Managing Partner of the UDG United Digital Group, discusses current trends on the AgenturCamp blog. The AgenturCamp will take place at Microsoft on November 22 and 23, 2018 in Munich.

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How do you collaborate with your clients?

Mathias Reinhardt: Our role has changed. Nowadays, we are not just a partner who takes care of communication and marketing for our clients. We often become part of their organization. We work in so-called “blended teams” to create digital products, services or entire eco-systems. The distinction between contractor and client is becoming increasingly blurred, particularly when we spend several weeks working with our clients in teams and workshops or use scrum methodology.

How willing are clients in your experience to engage with new procedures, processes and virtual teams?

Mathias Reinhardt: We already carried out agile projects in the previous decade, but nowadays the willingness of our clients is huge – and we are very happy about that. On the one hand, they are ever-more aware of the topic, but they also know from experience that traditional methods often fail to deliver the desired results or the speed required.

What are the biggest challenges regarding these processes in your opinion?

Mathias Reinhardt: The challenges are clearly cultural and strategic in nature. Some clients are unable to work in an agile manner due to their decision-making culture. For example, in scrum you have a product owner who can make decisions. If this product owner consists of a board of seven managers, it’s not going to work. In such cases we may well need to take time out during a project to make it clear that such a path does not facilitate decision-making. We really emphasize this point and discuss with the client about where they currently stand.

So you need an idea or concept of how to deal with the challenges of collaboration between agency and client?

Mathias Reinhardt: Yes – and we love clients whose decision-makers reflect this. Where does the agency and where do the client’s own teams stand? Who is involved in the project and how do they perceive their roles? What does the collaboration actually entail? It is incredibly helpful when you can have a discussion on a meta-level. There are some clients whose stance is: “You are the agency. You have to find some way to deliver.” This attitude doesn’t work in agile projects as we need to work together. To be able to discuss such changes – but also problems and points of resistance – on a meta-level is an essential factor in determining the success of the collaboration.

The full AgenturCamp interview in German can be found here: Digitale Zusammenarbeit mit Kunden. Worauf kommt’s an?