Agency Partner Spotlight: Connelly Partners

Here at Pantheon, we are overwhelmingly proud of the partnerships we build with agencies utilizing our platform. Not only are we proud of the value we bring to our agency partners, but we recognize the value agencies bring to Pantheon by doing more with their client’s websites by using our agile website operations (WebOPs) platform.

Team members reviewing code

I recently interviewed  Scott Savitt, Senior Partner and Director of Digital, and Eric Webster, Director of Technology, at Connelly Partners, one of our Strategic Agency Partners. On our call, I learned more about the agency and the great work they’re doing for their customers on Pantheon.

Defined by the work they do for modern brands

Connelly Partners is a full-service integrated agency that works with a large list of well-known brands in a variety of industries, including BJ's Wholesale Club, Boston Athletic Association, Gorton's Seafood, and Four Seasons Hotels. They’re an independent shop, unrestrained by any parent company, global network, or board of directors. As a result, they can scale quickly as needs arise, operate agilely, and embrace deeper collaboration with their clients.

Being defiantly human

Eric and Scott are responsible for the Connelly Partners digital group, that services all of their clients’ digital needs—spanning everything from social media, SEO, and analytics, to technical strategy, development, and user experience design.

“To give you a sense of our core mission and DNA, we believe in being Defiantly Human. Internally, this means a team who works together to fight the good fight by helping with tasks outside of their job description. Externally speaking, this means we are very consumer empathetic and human-insight driven. We always try to take the perspective of the audience first to understand the user and to view the problem through their eyes,” said Scott Savitt.

Throughout their 20 years serving clients, they sometimes encountered major projects that were outside of their capabilities, which required a “build or buy conversation,” said Scott. “In a lot of cases we built solutions internally.”

“For example, before Eric got here our technology capability was good, but Eric brought in best practices and advancements in all sorts of areas for our digital service. We've also done a lot of acquisitions throughout the years to add complementary services and capabilities.”

While Eric is the Director of Technology, he wears many hats within the organization to ensure all projects are a success.

“It's really about managing projects and resources and making sure the teams have all the information they need, whether that information is to better understand the goal of the solution, how to break down a complex business challenge, or how we’re going to architect a solution to solve a challenge,” said Eric Webster. “The role is about connecting clients to potential solutions.”

Saving time and resources with Pantheon

Due to constantly changing client needs, one major aspect of an agency’s success is the ability to scale and adapt while still remaining within a set timeline and budget. For some agencies, this simply means hiring more employees but this can be extremely costly.

A better alternative is to use tools that can automate repetitive tasks and reduce overhead. With a small team, you can move faster by not starting from scratch on every project. Tools used to automate sysadmin work, create custom codebases, and build templates for project phases help create an agile workflow for better website operations (WebOps) and project management.

“Our Dev team is around four to five guys. We use a lot of freelance talent and technology partners. I would say we’re able to do this because we use best-in-class tools like Pantheon. Five to 10 years ago, if I wanted to build a website, like the Boston Athletic Association—which we built on Pantheon—it would have taken me five times the amount of time connecting the enterprise level tools for Drupal and WordPress, which you guys already have done for us,” said Eric.

“Part of the job is to really find those great platforms and tools that, from an agency or marketing technology standpoint, allow us to be agile so we don't have to do the heavy lifting that we had to do 10 years ago. Pantheon, allows us to be more agile and competitive with our offerings by making custom web platforms more turnkey.”

Efficiency with Terminus

When asked about specific features of Pantheon that have made a large impact on their workflow, Eric pointed to our Command-Line Interface, Terminus. Terminus enables teams to do almost everything in a terminal that you can do in the Pantheon Dashboard, and much more.

“Specifically from the development standpoint Terminus is incredible. It is the glue between what developers do on the day-to-day and the Pantheon platform, which is fantastic, said Eric. “Obviously we need to manage our site builds and to manage our development environments but the way that Terminus pulls that altogether allows us to easily push and pull code around which makes us even more efficient. We don't have to login to a dashboard to pull some code down.”

“And some of the stuff that you guys have done with the landowner and local environments. We work with WP Engine and Acquia, and the tools and services that Pantheon provides are on that edge of innovation, ease of maintenance, and stability that just dwarfs your competition, and it's just fantastic when we want to integrate with some sort of regression testing platform and we can do that directly through Terminus. We can instantly run a build and just push that code over and then it will automatically happen in the background. So it's those sort of things that make our lives incredibly easy which is great.”

Enterprise-level projects with dev, test, live environments

A large part of delivering on enterprise-level projects is the ability for all teams to experiment quickly and with autonomy, without the risk of breaking the website and racking up further costs in putting out fires. Our dev, test, live environments were created specifically with this workflow of agile WebOps in mind.

“The way you guys have set up development environments has made enterprise level software available to everybody. It’s democratizing the internet as you say,” explained Eric.”

“Whereas I can take WordPress, the most popular CMS on the internet that almost anyone knows how to develop on, you put that on Pantheon and the way you guys have structured your environments - dev, test, live - the way that you're tooling works, the way that you have nightly backups and your data recovery platform, the ease of being able to move databases from one system to the next, it just allows anyone to be an enterprise developer. You don't need to go through 14 years at Oracle to be able to build out the great enterprise platform anymore. Pantheon provides that.”

Platform security, reliability, and support

Online security is now a major concern, and agencies are certainly no exception with numerous client sites at risk. This can cause a lot of anxiety for both the agency and customer, so having tools and resources to help ensure security can create trust with customers and make the lives of agencies much easier. At Pantheon we tackle this issue by having a secure platform as well as knowledgeable resources at our customers' fingertips.

“Instead of having to solve that problem on Saturday at 8:00 am when you have a panicked customer who's got some malware on their site, thanks to tools like Pantheon and the security-through-community that you guys have built, I can defer a lot of my anxiety to you guys and it's incredible the speed and agility and the things that we can do now that we don't have to worry about every little thing,” said Eric.

“From day one you guys have always been about let's figure this out together, and I think that has gone really far by way of building an appreciation for your service and your team because you're always there whenever I need them. When I have a question about something I can open up a ticket or live chat if it's a quick thing, but getting on the phone with somebody has never been a challenge and the people that we engage with on the Pantheon side are always helpful, even when they don’t have the answer immediately.”

Smooth sailing with The Head of the Charles Regatta and Boston Marathon

Head of the Charles Regatta

Disaster can strike when an agency has created a beautiful website for a customer, then a huge spike in traffic brings it all crashing down. Our platform’s containerized architecture is the first line of defense in making sure websites stay up and performing well. For Connelly Partners, two large projects would undoubtedly need to withstand massive amounts of traffic. They trusted Pantheon to ensure reliability.

“We built the Boston Marathon site. It's one of the most prestigious marathons in the country. We recently rebuilt their site on Drupal and it's hosted on Pantheon. They're going to get 14 million page views in one day and the pantheon platform is going to sustain that,” said Eric.

“And the reason that I know that is because we also built The Head Of The Charles Regatta website, so as much of an icon the Boston Marathon is outside of Massachusetts, inside Massachusetts, the Regatta is the day when Massachusetts shows up at the Charles River to watch a bunch of college students row boats down the river and it's a fantastic day. It happens in the early fall and it's just a great time but it's a huge event. They get a ton of traffic over the weekend and the pantheon system didn't flinch whatsoever.”

“So the iconic “it must be there that day” events that we have where it's super focused on uptime and performance, that's where we turn to Pantheon and your team because we know you're there watching these dashboards bounce up and down while we're doing the same thing, and we can sleep knowing that that team is behind and beside us.”

On the horizon

Looking to the future, Connelly Partners plans to capitalize on the use of analytics to push their customers to new heights.

“I think we're very interested this year in differentiating ourselves with a stronger focus on SEO and data analytics,” said Scott. “We already do a great job with not only content SEO and keyword optimization, but technical SEO as well because we understand that Google is one of our number one users. And I think what makes us special, along with the development side of what we do and architecting solutions, is how SEO and data analytics are critical. I think an agency really excels at these services when those three capabilities are connected.”

Connelly Partners are making great strides in solving their clients’ issues while ensuring reliability, security, and ease of use. And Pantheon appears to play a vital role in many of those client relationships.

We are committed to delivering outstanding service and results to our partners so that they can build a more predictable agency business. We’ve seen time and time again that sites launched on our platform that are built and supported by agencies find more success.

Agencies in our partner program can make use of powerful tools and support, and they have access to tailored trainings, education on emerging technology, sales materials, and even dedicated success managers. To learn more about how you can build, launch, and maintain world-class web experiences more predictably for your clients, check out our Pantheon Partner Program Guide.

Topics Agencies, Agency Partners, Development, Digital Agencies, Drupal, Growth & Scale, WordPress

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