The Starr Conspiracy is an Agile agency. It’s a way of doing work that values detailed planning, accountability, collaboration, and clear definitions of “done.” In 2013, we began a journey to transform every aspect of our agency based on Agile methodologies — from account management and creative, to office operations and accounting.
As one of the first agencies in the world to adopt a “whole agency” Agile model, our results have been remarkable and drawn interest from the broader advertising industry.
The Starr Conspiracy was led in this process by AgencyAgile, the undisputed leader in adapting Agile concepts for marketing agencies. The major components of our Agile transformation were completed in about 18 months. But we continue to experiment with and refine our engagement model, as well as our other business processes (and we expect to be experimenting and refining for the rest of our lives).
In other words, we didn’t just read a book, have a meeting, and — poof! — decide to call ourselves Agile. The Starr Conspiracy is truly Agile with a capital “A.”
Of course, we get a lot of questions about Agile from curious people. Here are some of the most common questions and their answers:
Q: Do I need to know anything about Agile to work with The Starr Conspiracy?
A: Not at all. Most of our clients are software companies that leverage Agile in other parts of their business, so many of them are familiar with basic Agile concepts. But no, you don’t need to know anything about Agile to enjoy the benefits of our engagement model.
Q: Does Agile require more of my time than a typical agency relationship?
A: Nope. In fact, quite the opposite is true: Agile makes the best use of our clients’ time. We don’t waste your time with pointless status meetings or “big reveal” presentations. Our meetings are swift and efficient, and we release work in frequent intervals to avoid “rework” and missed expectations. We do, however, spend a lot of time upfront on projects — planning our work together with clients in great detail. However, the time we spend in these sessions (during which we plan the work we’ll do together) saves hours, if not days and weeks, later in the process.
Q: Do you road-map?
A: Fanatically. We start each new engagement with an extensive and detailed road-mapping session. These replace the standard requirements-gathering process that’s prevalent in obsolete agency models. Our work is meticulously planned with the client. This eliminates surprises, and we’ve nearly eradicated missed deadlines and budget overruns.
Q: Do you work in sprints?
A: Absolutely. The Starr Conspiracy works in weekly sprints. All clients are on the same “sprint cycle” and work is planned across the agency on the same weekly cycle. Once a sprint begins, work for that one-week period is locked. However, clients frequently reorder tasks in the “backlog” of items to be worked on in future sprints. In our Agile engagement model, clients are in complete control of what we work on and when.
Q: Do you use story points?
A: You betcha. In the Agile process, story points are used to measure a quantity of work. In our shop, they’re calculated using two variables: the hours estimated for a task and the hourly rate of the person or people (the resource) performing that task. As a client, you get a monthly budget of story points that are divided into the weekly sprints. We plan sprints based on the amount of work we have budgeted for all of our clients and the backlog of tasks waiting to be executed. Of all the Agile concepts we work with, we receive the most positive feedback about story points.
Q: Can you help us become Agile?
A: Sorry, not our strong suit. We know the difference between doing and teaching. We suggest you contact the folks at AgencyAgile to learn about becoming Agile. They’re really good at teaching it.