The case for POD models in agencies: Efficiency and client-centric solutions

The structure of how teams operate can significantly impact both the efficiency of project completion and the quality of the final product. It's not just about ways of working.

The case for POD models in agencies: Efficiency and client-centric solutions
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The structure of how teams operate can significantly impact both the efficiency of project completion and the quality of the final product. It's not just about ways of working. What I'm talking about is the size, shape and experience of the team, and adding to that a way of working that is faster, better and ultimately cheaper for end-clients.

One of the trending topics in the design agency landscape is the POD model—a structure which organises teams into dedicated units or "pods" each focused on specific clients or projects. As I explored this model further through discussions on professional networks like LinkedIn, I've gathered compelling arguments for why this model might just be the future for design agencies.

Good ideas don't disappear do they? I remember working within a POD in previous roles over 10 years ago, but for anyone considering it for the first time, here's a primer and some reasons why it's a great model.

What is the POD Model?

The POD model organises an agency into smaller, client-focused teams that include all necessary roles to see a project from inception to completion. Each pod acts as a self-sufficient unit with designers, project managers, and sometimes a head of product or a senior designer who can also handle project management duties. This structure allows each team to operate autonomously while still aligning with the agency's overall mission and goals.

Advantages of the POD Model

1. Enhanced client relationship

Operating under a POD model, agencies can act as true extensions of their client teams. This structure eliminates the dilution of responsibility and attention that can occur when team members are spread across multiple projects.

Designers and managers in a pod are dedicated solely to a specific client, fostering a deeper understanding of the client’s needs and goals. This close-knit collaboration often results in designs that are more aligned with the client's vision and brand identity.

2. Streamlined processes and better focus

Agencies that adopt a POD model typically mirror an Agile methodology, where the emphasis is on collaboration, flexibility, and delivering high-quality results in shorter cycles. This approach minimizes the lag between discovery, design, and development phases, which not only accelerates the workflow but also reduces the risk of project bloat and scope creep. The focused attention in PODs ensures that each phase of the project receives the right amount of attention at the right time, making the process more efficient and effective.

3. Increased efficiency and reduced overhead

In a traditional agency setting, account managers often stretch across multiple projects, which can lead to inefficiencies and a diluted understanding of each project’s unique aspects. The POD model circumvents this by having dedicated roles within each pod, thus reducing the need for overlapping positions. This setup not only enhances project management but also ensures that each member of the pod is an expert in the client's project, leading to quicker decision-making and fewer miscommunications.

The challenges of the POD model

While the advantages of the POD model are compelling, it's not without its challenges. One significant concern is the staffing requirement; each pod requires a full set of skills, which can be a resource challenge for smaller agencies or those with variable workflow.

Moreover, the model demands high levels of coordination and communication within each pod, as well as strong leadership to keep multiple pods aligned with the agency’s overall strategic goals.


The POD model presents a revolutionary way for design agencies to organize their teams and manage projects. It aligns with modern work practices that favor agility, efficiency, and client-centric solutions. While it may require a shift in traditional agency structures and processes, the potential benefits of improved client relationships and streamlined operations make it an attractive option for agencies aiming to stay competitive and responsive in the dynamic design industry.

Whether you're a small startup or a large agency, considering a shift to a POD model could be the key to enhancing both your operational efficiency and your client satisfaction levels. As the industry continues to evolve, staying adaptable and client-focused will likely be the hallmarks of successful design agencies.