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PAN-PAN: Blog Post #2

Becoming a lean marketing machine

Welcome to the PAN-PAN agency blog!

We’ll be honest, we’re going to be using this space to talk a bit about whatever’s hot for us right now. That could be client work, industry trends, random cool stuff, or something else which we haven’t thought of yet! We’re glad you dropped in, and we hope you return for some bite-sized insights, honest thoughts, and maybe even a few lols along the way.

In this edition, we’re going to be talking about ‘lean’ working practices. No honestly, it’s going to be interesting! We’re aware ‘lean’ has become a bit of a buzzword over the last year or so, particularly with remote working becoming more popular, accepted, and widely used. If you’re like us, you might be a little bit skeptical about the type of people or organizations that use these types of terms. ‘Agile’ is another one doing the rounds. It’s the kind of thing a David Brent or Michael Scott might love to do a workshop on (which we’d love to see) but after a year of giving some of this stuff a go, it’s actually working pretty well for us. Still with us? If so, let’s dig a little deeper on what ‘lean’ working is and how it might help your team become more efficient, productive, collaborative, and most
importantly — happier!

What is lean methodology?

Traditionally, ‘lean methodology’ has always been heavily associated with
manufacturing or production, but how can it be applied in other fields or activities such as daily task planning, we hear you ask?

To kick off, its key to note that the core principle of ‘lean’ is to reduce and eliminate non-value adding activities and waste. There are plenty of different articles that talk about 5 or even 7 key principles of lean working, but what you really need to know when looking at lean within your department or organization is what’s not working well? You’re then looking at how you can implement continuous improvement initiatives that help to ensure key processes result in giving your team the benefits we mentioned earlier (saving time, working smarter, everyone smiling and high fiving! Ok, we changed those a bit from what we said earlier but that’s basically what we were getting at!)

Practice vs. Theory

We hope you’re impressed that the theory part of this piece was short and that it made sense in terms of what businesses are trying to do with lean. Essentially, they’re trying to cut out any time-wasting rubbish that nobody cares about and focus on improving things that are business critical and impact people, process, and bottom line.

So how are we rolling out lean? Ready for this? Let us tell you about our “lean journey”. Yeah, we said it! Ok, so we’ve been implementing lean practices within our team for over a year now ― not only to improve areas such as daily creative resource planning, but also to measure the team’s overall mood.

Identifying key areas for improvement

With over 43 clients and approximately 50 projects happening concurrently at any one time, it’s natural that change needs to happen to ensure processes improve, delivery becomes more efficient, and our people have a good work / life balance. So how did we get started? Well, we knew some things had been bubbling in the background that needed to be addressed and the first port of call was to initially run a short workshop session (remember we mentioned these above!), which focused on our key pinch points for the team. We focused on the things that were irritating people or were causing stress and these boiled down to 5 keys areas across each of our departments.

  • Unrealistic / short client deadlines
  • Results not being in line with client vision
  • Project Managers under / over planning resource for design / creative web development teams
  • Client briefs lacking key information
  • Keeping in touch with the general vibe of the office / our team’s individual & collective happiness

Once we had identified our key areas of development, we then switched our attention to tangible solutions that we could Implement in the short or medium term in order to make a positive difference.

Tackling each challenge with lean

Here’s a short run down of how we met each challenge and what the status of thisfocus area is now.

Unrealistic / short client deadlines

Creating a guidebook for clients so they could see roughly how long key tasks take has been a big help here. This allowed them to see how they could plan and budget better, while setting briefs and deadlines which allow us to deliver our best work.

Results not in in line with client vision

We started to show clients mid-way results to ensure key designs were moving in the right direction. By doing this, we could save time and money if we needed to move in a different direction. We also started to share more collaborative documents with clients so they could feedback on work directly rather than various rounds of document trafficking.

Project Managers under / over planning resource for design / creative / web development teams

Creating simpler & smarter briefing documentation got the ball rolling here, while we also aligned on KPIs and time tracking platforms that have allowed us to manage resource more precisely. Putting a system in place for bookings, feedback, and diary management has been positively reinforced by asking each other to communicate with each other better!

Client briefs lacking key information

We have started to solve this problem by taking more time to debrief our creative, design, and development teams in person and with a written brief containing all the necessary information. We’re also ensuring our teams have the opportunity to ask questions ahead of them starting work so that any ambiguity can be ironed out!

Keeping in touch with the general vibe of the office / our team’s individual v& collective happiness

We all know it can sometimes be hard for people to be honest about how they are feeling, and we’ve introduced something that’s been both a bit of fun, and a chance for our staff to give us an indication of how they are doing each day. It’s super simple, but we love it. We now have a mood chart in our office kitchen that lets us know if you’re feeling good, bad, or ugly. That way we know if we can make life easier for certain people or find out if they need a bit of support in any way.

So, there you have it! An instant classic of a blog entry that shows how marketing,
creativity, and lean is a ‘mission possible’. Reach out to us with any questions and you can lean on us for thoughts, support, or to collaborate!