Course Correction: Get the Best Out of Your Agency Partnership
We’ve all been there. Plans change, unexpected challenges appear, team communication breaks down, and suddenly it feels like a project has gone off...
Once the challenge of making the decision is behind you, the work of effective collaboration can really begin.
Think of an RFP process as a vibe check. You’ve chosen your agency partner because your values, goals, and ways of working seem to align, but that doesn’t mean you’ll naturally fall into an effective working dynamic. To accelerate the process of coming together and give your partnership the best foundation, here are five ways to clarify expectations with your agency, define your collaborative approach, and strengthen your relationship from the outset.
While a great agency should be thinking about the best team they can offer you and your project, you’ll see more success when you’re ready to meet that team head-on with counterparts on your side who can collaborate immediately and directly. Take responsibility for developing—and integrating your team and that of your agency into a cohesive, high-performing team. As you bring your internal team together, consider:
As you work to integrate your agency team into your day-to-day interactions and culture, don’t be afraid to take a straightforward approach, onboarding your new agency colleagues in a way similar to how you’d introduce new hires. Consider creating a team charter that can help everyone get up to speed as quickly and smoothly as possible. Use this charter to:
Setting clear expectations for day-to-day working practices can go a long way to resolving potential conflicts and confusion, increasing efficiency. While a good partnership always works out these kinks in time, there’s no reason not to open up such a practical and useful conversation from the very beginning.
The vibe check during the sales process was great, you chose this agency for a reason. But while you want a good cultural fit and a team you enjoy working with, no organization wants a “yes man” from their agency partner. Empower your agency team to speak up and share their expertise in productive ways:
It’s easy to boil an agency relationship down to its ultimate outcomes: did the event go well, or not? did we meet our expected goals? But any teacher will tell you that waiting till the end of the semester to look at your course grade isn’t always a great idea! From efficiency markers like timelines and budgets, to measures of creativity and constituency impact, KPI’s can provide a helpful reference for the real-time health of your project. While underperforming on a KPI isn’t always an indicator of an agency shortcoming, it can frequently show you where your team is meeting unexpected obstacles that could impact success, helping you start a conversation with your agency partner about how to adjust sooner rather than later. In addition to measuring impact and outcomes, we recommend establishing KPIs to evaluate:
While KPIs can help identify red flags over the course of a project, there’s no substitute for a holistic approach to performance evaluation.
When things are going smoothly this can be a simple process, affirming that your current approach is the right one. When event needs are ramping up and pressure is increasing, regular evaluations allow you to make adjustments quickly before they become a major issue, setting you and your agency partner up for success.
While it’s your partner’s job to bring strategic expertise, creativity, and efficient execution to your relationship, ultimately, they follow lead. To maximize their performance—whether in creative work or event support and management—take a leadership role, not just in managing your project or event, but in agency partnership management as well. An exceptional partner will not only follow your lead, but seamlessly integrate into your team and culture, filling the gaps you hired them to fill and pushing your work to new heights.
Once you've laid this foundation, expected challenges can appear. How do you handle these hurdles? Stay tuned for our next article, Course Correction: Get the Best Out of Your Agency Partnership for strategies that not only strengthen team collaboration but encourage resiliency and adaptability.