Integration or Collaboration. How to increase efficiency, improve the work, and sell it more successfully!
If I had a dollar for each time I have had to sit through an internal meeting complaining about the issues with an “Integrated” agency account, I would be a wealthy man.
I do not intend going into the pro’s and cons of whether you choose an integrated or collaborative model for your agency business. That’s a whole other post. Right now I am assuming that you have adopted one or the other. What I have found through experience, is that both models have a set of similar issues that lead to longer than necessary timelines, inefficient resource utilization, higher costs, conflicting agendas, internal politics and just general good old infighting.
While in my opinion clients share the responsibility for managing the integration or collaboration process, for this post I am going to focus on the agency perspective and what you can do to improve it.
- Focus on client profitability versus agency/unit/department profitability. Quite simply, you get the behaviors you reward. It you reward parochial behavior driven by department or agency P&L’s you have to live with partisan behavior. This one simple change can make a world of difference.
- Start with a group kick off meeting. Get all the different agencies or departments within your group together for an initial meeting. It is at that meeting that you make an initial assessment of what skills will be required, who will be responsible for providing them and what resources will be assigned. Make sure you define resources, roles, responsibilities and communication channels.
- Collaboration from the start to finish. The assigned team works as a collaborative group, immediately working to develop the approach, research required, actionable insights, creative ideas and solutions etc. The team wins or loses together.
- Eliminate any hierarchy issues. It’s not going to work if the team is all equal, just some are more equal than others. There’s no “we will come up with the idea and then you can bolt on some tactics”. That approach is out. Every idea is valid and the work is made stronger through the collective disciplines involved.
- Common goals & outcomes: The whole team must understand and agree on what the challenge is, what the client expects, what metrics are required, how they will be measured and what an acceptable outcome will be. Build in measurement and metrics right from the start. This helps keep the team focused, avoids distractions and helps deliver more effective work.
- Business solution plus creative marketing solution. Need I say more, especially in this difficult economic environment? Sales are king!
- Project management & communication. Core to making sure the process runs smoothly are competent project management that manage with clear goals and targets and in an environment of open communication.
- Zero tolerance for politics. Internal politics needs to be addressed immediately and firmly. If the person cannot play well on the team take them off it. A slightly less talented person constructively engaged is far more effective. One badly behaved individual can derail the whole initiative.
I think inherently we all know that good integration/collaboration is hard to achieve, however when you get it right the outcome is incredible and worth all the effort.