Selecting the right agency can be a daunting experience. With the number of digital agencies on the rise, finding a credible, experienced agency to partner with is key. Getting it wrong could have a detrimental impact not only on your project, but on your business.
"Will they understand our needs?"
"Will we get results?"
"Will we get on?"
In our last post ‘How to Brief an Agency’, we ran through the criteria to create a comprehensive brief that supports your tender process. Setting out your business needs, site and agency requirements, time frames and budgets, gives prospective agencies a clear insight into your demands aiding the creation of a tailored proposal to fulfil them.
This guide is designed to help you identify the right agency for your business:
Do Your Research
A prerequisite to taking on any agency is research. Look at how agencies present themselves, their experience, certifications and their portfolio of work.
Some key things for consideration:
- Which clients have they worked with?
- Look at examples of their work.
- Which sectors (if any) do they specialise in?
- How does their web platform provider rank them?
- Do they have a good website?
- Have they won any industry awards?
- What relevant certifications do they hold?
- Request company accounts.
No Two Agencies Are The Same
Every agency is different. The platforms they use, the services they offer, whether they use in-house or external resources, even their strength in key development areas and sectors.
Look for an agency with strengths aligned to the development work you require or experience within your industry. Web development isn’t an out of the box solution, every project is unique and because of this, every proposal should be bespoke. Finding an agency who understands your business needs and can deliver a solution on budget and on-time is of paramount importance.
Transparency is essential to a positive partnership. Agencies should be open about their previous experiences with clients, acknowledging both smooth and challenging projects, how they overcame hurdles, as well as detailing procedures, activities and results. Client references should also be requested where possible and expect to receive a detailed plan that sets out exactly how they will work with you; this plan should include:
- The life-cycle of the project
- Requirements of the agency as well as the client
- Flag potential risks
- The project team (agency)
- Expected results
- Detailed cost breakdown
- Statement of work
You should feel reassured that every element of your project has been considered, as well as understand how and where your budget will be allocated against deliverables.
Going The Extra Mile
Some agencies will strive to deliver more. This could even be through a more pro-active approach to deliver a positive client-agency experience. Perhaps they immerse themselves deeper in your business to better understand your customers and requirements. Maybe they hold a strong emphasis on communication and customer service or they demonstrate a collaborative project approach to become an extension of your team.
A considered approach to your project such as these could be what makes an agency stand out from the rest.
Too Good To Be True
If it sounds too good to be true, there’s a good chance it is. If an agency promises you unrealistic delivery time-frames or their quotation is half the cost of all other agencies, this could raise a red flag. Request a full project cost breakdown to ensure everything you expect has been included from day one – that way you won’t get any nasty surprises down the line!
We Just Clicked!
During the tender process make sure you get the chance to meet the people behind the agency. The Business Development Manager and Account Manager are likely to be at your first meeting, but what about the rest of the project team? Who will you be working with?
Arrange a meeting at the agency’s office so you can meet the whole team. Your project will require interaction with multiple departments and this face-to-face meeting will give you a truer representation of their personality, culture, values, ethos and ultimately, the fit with your business.
Your Relationship With The Agency Doesn’t End At Go Live
A lot of projects are run over multiple phases, requiring ongoing iterative changes and updates. A good agency will think ahead, suggesting a retainer is put in place for future maintenance, updates and bug-fixes that ensure site longevity and freshness.
Projects take time, so don’t rush. Choose an agency you’re confident can deliver and who you can see yourself working closely with for the project duration and beyond.
Following this guide, we hope that you’ll select an agency who will deliver on your objectives and that you can build a strong and supportive client-agency partnership with.