Vodacom, a subsidiary of Vodafone, has been undergoing an agile transformation, accelerating not only the impact and innovation in its business but also on its agencies. As one of the largest advertisers on the African continent, the volume of work generated by it is immense. Co-ordination across multiple agency partners, internal approvers, and marketing specialists became a key factor in the smooth running of the system.
Vodacom marketing needed to prepare its marketing suppliers to increase both the pace and volume of work while staying within the existing budgetary constraints. With over 300 people involved in the ecosystem between internal stakeholders and suppliers, this was no small task.
People, Process, Systems
For any new system to take hold, people need to buy into it. This means that before you can re-engineer the processes, you have to create a behavioural change within the teams that enables the new to replace the old. While many leaders speak about change, few are willing to change. Vodacom’s leadership team drove the change and championed the initiatives.
Creating Agile Processes – “Agile Marketing”
Agile, was not developed with marketing in mind. The first phase of the project required understanding how we implement agile with the different agencies and Vodacom through a series of workshops and immersions. Using service design methodologies, we mapped out the existing process flows to identify points of friction and emotional distress both at the agencies and at Vodacom.
It quickly became apparent that there were challenges on both sides of the table and the teams came together to identify process solutions to improve their ability to work together. A hybrid KANBAN process was developed clearly identifying handover and quality requirements to simplify interactions.
Service Design – from interviews to prototypes
With this understanding, the processes were mapped and revisions made to ways of working. The volume of work however quickly outstripped any physical board and a digital platform was required to support this volume of work. Choosing between a series of vendors by prototyping the process. Pipefy was selected as a technology platform due to its functionality and ease of deployment.
Prototyping Change – Unique-unique but the same
From working with one agency, we moved into all of the agencies. All we had learned by working with Ogilvy (the lead agency), was transferred into an onboarding program. This took all of the agency teams through an agile marketing immersion, service design to reimagine processes and systems customisation, enabling each agency to work in their preferred way to meet their objective but still provide a unified overview for Vodacom.
Systems Development – “It looks great on paper”
The challenge with process development is that it often looks great on paper but doesn’t work as expected in the real world. Working closely with the Pipefy teams in Brazil and the agencies, the system development followed an agile methodology with weekly iterations being developed, tested by users and modified based on their feedback.
Support and Change Management
A support and change management process was put in place to make rapid changes as issues were discovered in the process and new ideas were developed. A steering committee of users was identified to give ongoing feedback on new changes to ensure that fixes did not create new challenges.
Outcomes – From inception to live in 6 months.
From inception to live, the project encompassed 6 months. While implementing new systems is never easy, the results have been impressive. The number of active jobs managed by the system rapidly grew to almost 100% of the total jobs delivered, over the first 3 months, and as the teams settled into the new ways of working, the increased visibility has benefited all the parties.
Learnings – You cannot change systems without changing behaviours
Behaviour change is an adaptive problem (i.e. has no obvious solution) vs a technical problem (i.e. known solution) because each team and its leadership dynamics are different. Without allowing the users to feel a sense of mastery and control over the new systems, you won’t get adoption – so having an inclusive process is key.
Inclusion, however, does not mean death by committee and facilitating a strong plan of action with short term momentum (i.e. weekly reviews, decisions and changes based on decisions) drives the project to completion. The ability to prototype and test the process on the new system quickly was critical to the success of the project. Post-implementation support and change management ensure ongoing utilisation.