Agency Stack - The preferred stack for developing digital products and services

Let’s face it - there’s more to life than switching resource planner or issue tracker. So trusting in the wisdom of crowds - and you are a smart crowd - then it’s worth seeing if your app ecosystem is going to make you feel like Prince(ss) of the Processes or Bodger the Badger.

From collaboration platforms to ecommerce solutions and lots in between, here are the results to our recent technology survey, along with some commentary from us at Byng.

Folks are chatting on…

Slack - a full 58% of us use the platform in our businesses. That’s pretty impressive from a standing start 6 years ago and built of all things on a LAMP (PHP based) platform with some Java microservices.

While surging in the software development (and perhaps general business services space), Slack is no Skype. Skype has some 75 million active users while Slack is at around 2 million active users.

We use Slack in Byng and almost every project we’ve done uses it for alerts and co-ordinating responsibility - for example a new lead comes in via Slack rather than via email on

Because we kan kanban...

Etiquette for delivery team meetings involves no talking of religion or politics - and certainly no talk of changing your workflow or resource planning tool. Switching these out requires bribes and horse trading, so it's better to stick with the tried and trusty names.

As you’d expect Atlassian’s Jira takes the top of the stack, being fully integrated and probably the most popular - well certainly the most popular, given Atlassian’s IPO hit for $5.9 billion market capitalisation shortly after take off.

Basecamp up in second place and - our personal love at Byng, Jetbrains YouTrack in third place. Both YouTrack and Jira really are built for agile delivery whereas Basecamp tends to feel a bit more suitable for a staged delivery.

Others included Trello, Liquid Planner and Streamtime.

Maximising utilisation with resource planning...

As a consultancy, a great tool to organise your team not only keeps the zen but drives up utilisation by avoiding clashes and project delays. A stat we always think about is that if your consultancy has a 20% net margin, then going from 80% utilisation to 60% means the equation tips negative.

Given that this change is the difference of one day per week or 2 hours per day, this is pretty significant. It seem the best fuel for high utilisation is a Whipping Team. Well it worked for the romans...

Others included Trello, Liquid Planner, Streamtime, Synergist and other Excel and bespoke set-ups. It seems this is one of the more complex areas of a consultancy to get right.

Where is the team and how is it being delivered?

The majority of you have a flexible relationship with contractors, outsource partners (such as Byng), hand over to clients or have a group company relationship. Only 34% have an in-house team - a trend we see staying in agencies under 100 people as technology keeps moving and the cost of changing the team is high, while maintaining utilisation across the teams.

Photoshop still rules the roost - for now…

Abobe Photoshop CC still takes the majority of the votes being the design crafting tool of choice whereas nothing else beats the planning phases of a large (ideally brown) roll of paper for a UX session.

In Byng we work often with Sketch and Marvel together. The likes of Flint are creating more and more integration with Sketch. Here’s to hoping that Sketch will end up connected to UI inventories and components.

Cross platform gaining but no baton yet…

At Byng we’ve been using Ionic for a couple of years now and are super comfortable with it as a technology, as it matured into a full version 1.0 back in 2015.

Pick the right CMS and you’re popular, the wrong one… well...

Horses for courses is certainly a principal in picking a content management system for projects, but best avoid the lame ones as they won’t run so well. That and your engineering team may abandon ship! Of the agencies we surveyed, Drupal 8 came out on top. Surprisingly (for us) SiteCore is still popular even with it’s hefty price tag.

Ecommerce in 2016

Shunning the enterprise world put Shopify - a SaaS ecommerce platform - at the top of the pile next to Magento and Drupal (both open source ecommerce frameworks).  

Marketing technology for 2016

The replies came back with a pretty much “all the above” responses and this probably reflects the fact that so many different tools exist and switching them in and out is relatively straightforward.

On the horizon…

Our favorite question of the lot and Virtual Reality (VR) came out as the most exciting technology to look out for in 2016. Perhaps no surprise that machine learning is down the list as this perhaps serves as a way to enhance existing models rather than completely new ones - like VR and IoT offer.

And from a programming perspective - yes you’ve guessed it. JavaScript is ruling the world at the moment. This is set to continue into 2016 and hopefully then TypeScript will have taken more of a dent into the market.


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