Arran Kirkup Head of Client Engagement 5 min read Does your agency work with you or just play back to you? It’s well known that knowledge transfer is a dirty word in the agency game. It’s obvious really, isn’t it? Why would an agency give away their recipe for success to a client. That’s a quick way to lose a future paying gig, right? Most agencies couldn’t possibly give you a glimpse into the engine room for exactly this reason. It’s imperative that the agency is the black box – specification in, work out, with no clue as to the magic in between. Right? Wrong. Forget everything you think you know about working with an agency and we’ll show you another way. A way which provides long term value and enhances your in-house knowledge while continuing to provide support, where necessary, for years to come. Surely weaning your business off the agency teat should be your goal, and your agency’s, wherever appropriate. The Issue with Playbacks One way agencies try to obfuscate their “black box culture” is by expounding their regular playbacks of each sprint as your opportunity to see the inner workings. Don’t be fooled. You’re still only being given outputs (in the form of completed tickets) and inputs (in the form of a backlog). The magic is still being kept hidden and, like all the best magicians, your attention is being drawn elsewhere so you don’t see what’s going on behind the scenes. Where’s the long term value from playbacks? How is your team enriched or better equipped? What happens when the next project comes along, or the project needs amending? What if the project doesn’t meet requirements? That’s another paying gig for your friendly agency who will be happy to take your money a second time and will continue to keep you in the dark. It’s so old fashioned. What a Real Partnership Looks Like That’s just not how the world works now. Through online tools such as Slack, JIRA, GIT and others we make sure that your dedicated team is an extension; not a replacement. Knowledge transfer is a good thing – it’s in everyone’s interests for you to understand how the project is built and how to maintain and improve it. Regular playbacks are not a synonym for collaboration. Our projects are delivered alongside your developers, often with them in the same room, so everyone can benefit from one another’s expertise. As well as the obvious benefits of close collaboration this has enabled us to work on projects where privacy and data security are key. We promote regular on-site/off-site working (and playing!) between both teams. Our guys come to you, your guys come to us; it doesn’t matter. The sooner everyone is working together and sharing expertise the sooner the project will be successful. It is how software should be written these days. Don’t work with an agency who wants to distance you from delivery. If you can’t put your guys in a room with theirs, if you can’t see their work every day and be part of the conversation then they’re still working in the Mad Men era.