In some recent research, conducted by the PM Society, when clients were asked how they currently assess ways of working between their team and the agency, only 10% said they conducted a review process. Around 22% said they don’t spend enough time on this type of activity.
A regular two-way appraisal is a vital tool if you want to build a genuine partnership with your agency and make them an extension of your team. Appraisals can get overlooked or delayed because they can feel daunting and time-consuming, and the daily workflow takes precedent. But the risk is that minor issues become bigger if not discussed, and sores get rubbed. Also, you miss a valuable opportunity to improve the way you work together.
To get the most out of the process it’s essential the appraisal is two-way, so you make the process collaborative, and each party can openly share how they think the relationship can be improved.
Client assessment of agency
The 360 Appraisal template asks the client to assess each of the key services provided by the agency, including account management, strategic planning, medical writing, creative, production, and digital. It also includes your chance to assess financial management and senior management input. There are specific descriptors under each area plus the chance to add comments to explain your ratings. At the end of this section, the form asks you to summarise the agency’s overall strengths and areas for improvement.
The form could easily be adapted for other types of agencies by simply deleting the sections that are relevant and adding others. Also, depending on the type of work the agency does, you might want to expand the number of descriptors under the headings, for example if most of your work is digital.
Agency assessment of client
In the second half of the form the agency assesses the client. This is broken into three areas – quality of briefing, creative development and approval process and the overall business partnership, with descriptors for each. At the end of this section the agency summarises the client’s overall strengths and what the client could potentially do differently to improve the agency partnership. I would suggest you involve the client and agency in finalising the form as there may be other headings one or both parties want to include.
Ideally each party nominates an individual to discuss and agree the final structure of the appraisal and then gather feedback from colleagues to complete the form. Then the teams can meet to go through it and agree next steps. We’d recommend the appraisal is run every year with a check-in after 3 or 6 months to see how each party is doing against the agreed actions.
The investment in time is worth it because it will help build motivated and committed teams and ensure the relationship is long-lasting and commercially successful.
Paul Phillips runs training workshops for the PM Society for clients on ‘How to get the best out of the agency.’ Contact email@example.com to find out more.