As agile continues to increase in popularity for how in-house teams manage their work - it's becoming clear that a flexible approach to the methodology makes the most sense.  Applying a pure Agile methodology (whether Scrum or Kanban) aligns naturally for teams managing software development or iterative development work, but in a marketing or creative ops context, sticking with a single methodology and its formal rituals and roles can be challenging and cumbersome to adopt. These teams see greater success in reaching agility when applying a hybrid approach that still delivers the promised benefits while being adaptable to their specific project types and team structures. Through this new lens, IHA teams are free to adapt elements from Scrum or Kanban or traditional Waterfall, into tailored, hybrid approaches to manage their work.

Let’s dive in!

What is a Hybrid approach?

Let’s start with some basics. The two most commonly used forms of Agile are known as Scrum and Kanban while the traditional top-down classic approach to project management is known as Waterfall.  A hybrid solution combines features from multiple methodologies (e.g., Scrum, Kanban, and Waterfall) rather than sticking with one methodology in its purest form.

In-house teams are finding that by applying practices from all 3 they can achieve better results because practices can be customized for their specific project types, levels of complexity, team structures, and workflows.  Some Agile practices just won't be as successful for an IHA or marketing team as they are for a development or product team.

In Cella’s 2022 In-House Creative Industry Report survey, we asked, "What process methodologies does your team use?" 64% responded Agile, with 45% adopting the hybrid approach – a 12% increase over last year.


Why Go Hybrid?

By experimenting to define what will work best for your team on what types of work, you can tailor an approach that leads to lasting agility and continuous improvement without becoming overloaded by practices and rituals that bring no extra value to their daily work. This enables your team to focus more on the practical benefits of being more agile, instead of navigating rigid methodologies.  

For a pure Agile Scrum framework to be used, an IHA would need to plan their work in 2 week sprints and commit to completing chunks of work in this timeframe. This requires that the team has a predefined scope of work with little to no unplanned requests to respond to – and we all know how likely this is. IHA teams often struggle to obtain visibility into all the planned work coming their way, let alone the unplanned work.

Another factor lending IHA teams to the hybrid approach is the team structure and skill-set. Most teams of this type don’t have a dedicated Scrum Master or Product Owner to ensure the team is focused on the right work, nor do they have team members with the required skills to follow a purely Agile approach.

In today’s world of remote work and global teams in various time zones, it can be difficult for teams to adhere to the daily stand-up required for Scrum as well. Relying on a weekly team status meeting will not be enough. Consider alternating this in the morning and evening or using a chat channel to communicate this daily and help keep all team members up to date.

The stats from our 2022 In-House Creative Industry Report show that 39% of Agile teams follow a hybrid approach, while only 27% use pure Scrum and that drops to 21% for pure Kanban.

See Cella’s Whitepaper Agile for IHA Teams here for more information.

When to use Hybrid?

Waterfall, Agile and Hybrid each have their advantages in different types of scenarios. Cella has found that certain project types are better suited for Agile than others. Agile Scrum works well with high level Tier 1 concepting, large web, interactive and application development projects. Agile Kanban’s WIP Limits are great to manage Tier 3 maintenance projects and Kanban Boards can be used to manage high-volume requests for production of pre-determined, templated materials and updates to website content.  For Tier 2 work (adaptive design), Cella has found that a hybrid approach has proven to be more appropriate.

By implementing a hybrid approach, you can utilize Agile practices for their dynamic nature and Waterfall where a more deliberate approach makes sense. For example, when managing larger campaign launches, many teams apply practices from both. This allows you to produce and push smaller campaign components like content pieces quickly, while planning the larger campaign in Waterfall at the same time.

According to the State of Agile Marketing 2022 report daily stand-ups, retrospectives, sprint/iteration planning, user stories, and digital Kanban boards are the most popular Agile practices that marketing departments implement.

Challenges/Obstacles to Overcome

Transforming the way people work and think to be more "Agile" has been challenging for many teams for at least five key reasons: lack of in-house expertise, inconsistent Agile practices, general resistance to change, insufficient training and ongoing support, as well as lack of supporting tools.

Bringing most benefits of Agile to life in your in-house agency (IHA) is possible. But knowing where the demons lurk along your quest will help you prepare for success. Remember to create an action plan to address each one of these factors that pose critical risks to your rollout.

The Agile Mindset

Cella is pioneering a new vision for the ways in which in-house agencies get great work done. Our hybrid process framework for IHAs, incorporating the right application of Agile, Lean, Waterfall and other methods, supercharges workflows while giving teams the autonomy and ownership to create their best customer centric work. As experts in creative process, project management, IHA financial operations and workflow technology, we give in-house agencies the wings to create smarter, collaborate better and deliver projects sooner. Cella’s approach begins with understanding and mapping your unique business environment, current state workflows and overall readiness for change within your IHA.


Need help empowering your team through your Agile journey?