Managing digital transformation – Brian Robinson

Waterfall vs agile. Which is best? Jump to 02.57 to find out.


Brian Robinson is the managing director of digital teams at Dept Agency 

With a mixture of delivery and commercial roles under his belt, Brian has the hands-on technical experience to deliver transformation project and work on business strategies for clients.  

He is currently a managing director at Dept, a digital agency that employees 1200 individuals across 14 different offices. Until the start of 2018 he was the MD of the design and technology which was based in Manchester and focused on large-scale web and application development.

In 2019 Brian’s role has changed slightly when Dept created its new ‘digital teams’ business model. Dept’s Digital teams help companies that are going through that digital change period. Their mission spans from the very top of an organisation where they look at the digital strategy of a company through to creating a product that empowers a business to take over their own delivery. 

Waterfall vs agile. Which is best?  

There are many different methods for delivering a product. Which one your company chooses is down to your personal preferences and an understanding of the way your business works. Brian told us how he determines what delivery method is right for a client in this show.  

‘There are lots of different ways of delivering a project. Dept does a lot of agile stuff, it might be scrum, it might be Kamban, it might be something completely different. But the key is finding the right delivery method for your client. This might be a slightly unpopular opinion, but some companies may work better with a waterfall methodology because of the ways they’re organised and structured.  

Because Dept is an independent client we are able to say things to a company that its employees might not be able too. A lot of challenges within an organisation; the stops, the delivery, they aren’t technical they’re not agile from a delivery point of view.

They tend to be hierarchical or in the way projects are funded, or the way projects are staffed. They tend to require a business change rather than a delivery change. What often happens is that decision makers go straight to the scrum or agile methodologies and say we’ll do an agile team. 

That team then just gets suffocated by the other processes. So, even though some of the drivers for in-housing are saving money, the nature of running an in-house teams means you don’t see as much of a saving compared to an agency team. So that philosophy you’re trying to achieve can actually be lost if you start at the delivery side when actually its the business change you need to make first.’

Show Notes

00.59 Brian’s career background  

02.57 No scrums better than a bad scrum

05.00 Business change is a generic term

06.42 Agile won’t always solve your problems

07.36 Hiring for Dept agency 

09.38 Mediating client demands 

12.21 Is Dept’s business model counter-intuitive? 

14.45 Deploying teams to remote sites

17.01 Delivery roles vs commercial roles      

20.03 Dept is built through acquisitions

23.01 Clarity is key to making a project successful

24.43 Who’s your real product owner?

26.30 Setting yourself goals