Since I joined Redweb 3½ years ago, I've seen the agency develop and grow significantly. When I joined the agency there were 80 staff. We are now heading over 120! With that has come many problems and challenges.
Historically after winning work we would look at availability across different disciplines and build a team from that. This would often mean developers would switch between different platforms from project to project and often be working with different people. This worked, but as an innovative agency we are always looking at ways to do things better.
For example, is it realistic that a developer can work on a Sitecore project for 9 months then switch to an EPiServer project and hit the ground running? CMS products are becoming increasingly complex platforms that provide complex marketing functionality and as such there are many potential efficiencies in building teams with specific specialisms rather than having a broad pool of generalists.
As a result of this thinking, at Redweb we have formed five teams - all with their own individual specialisms. My team, Team 2 (we do need a more glamorous name), has a core focus on large complex Sitecore projects. Rather than just having a select few developers who are Sitecore certified, the entire build team will be certified. This will be the first time at Redweb we've considered more than just developer training on CMS products. QA Analysts, as well as our Project Directors, will attend the Advanced CMS course to ensure they have a full understanding of the product and Front End Developers will attend the FED course so they can ensure their code fully integrates with features like the Experience Editor. We are also taking the developer training one step further; key developers in the team will attend the Advanced and Digital Marketing courses.
There is more to this than simply spending a lot of money on training - we aim to become more vocal in the Sitecore community and build upon our reputation for building great Sitecore sites. At Redweb, we have non-project time which is used for attending Sitecore User Groups, writing blog posts and working on side projects. With the team becoming experts in Sitecore, if there is a clearly defined Sitecore opportunity for Redweb, the team can pick it up and deliver the pitch. This is a great way to get the actual team in front of potential clients who can confidently answer questions related to Sitecore and the teams’ build process.
Having the same set of people regularly working together on projects improves efficiency, we know people’s skills and who should work on what. We know who is over optimistic and who is pessimistic. We can define our build process within the team. We have our standard way of building Sitecore sites, so we can be more lean and efficient during definition and there is a greater responsibility within the team to commit to deadlines and deliver projects. As a team, it is also easier to manage workload and interchange between projects within the team to achieve these commitments.
Previously the only financial information I had was either on the agency as a whole or on how an individual project is going. We now have a view of how the team is performing financially with weekly reporting on the figures. This means as a team we have financial targets and it provides everyone with a better understanding of the impact of project delays on profitability.
We have made good progress in the last 6 months and it will be good to see where we are in a years’ time. So far we have had positive feedback when the project team pitches directly for Sitecore projects and we have improved our financial planning and forecasting allowing us to identify quieter periods and bring work forward.
As Redweb grows, I wonder if these teams will begin to flourish almost as mini agencies within the Redweb brand, empowered by senior management. I'm excited to find out and be a part of it!