Hiring a new agency to help round off a new project? Approaching an agency about some upcoming contract work? Navigating the world of client-agency relationships can be daunting no matter what side of the table you sit on.
Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be the case. In today’s sharing economy, clients and agencies can (and should!) be helping one another work better together. Here are a few helpful tips for more fruitful collaboration we’ve learned firsthand from some of our recent projects.
Keep communication concise.
When multiple parties collaborate on a project, those CC’s and Slack messages can rack up quickly. Instead, keep everyone in the loop without word vomit. Making your communication to-the-point means less time in your inbox and more time thinking out of the box.
Especially at the start of a new working relationship, be attentive to one other’s communication styles. Ask straightforward questions and give unambiguous details like:
- What’s your preferred method of communication for this project?
- Our team normally requests a scheduled phone call for urgent matters, and email for ongoing project updates & inter-team feedback.
Establish ground rules, such as “You may have worked with contractors who’ll almost-always answer the phone on nights and weekends. That’s not us, but we’ll reply within 1 business day of your inquiry or request a quick phone call for emergencies.”
Don’t forget to evaluate communication’s role once the project’s done. Did teams speak to each other enough? Not at all? Where did any miscommunications occur? Improving communication is always an ongoing process.
Use cloud-based documentation.
Working mutually on copy edits from a single, cloud-based Google Doc saves entire hours of precious billable time. Having easy-to-reference online backups of PDFs and project collateral reduces the need to “circle back” and “touch base” before a big deadline. Ease tensions. Establish trust. Eradicate redundancies. Everybody wins.
Before beginning a new project, set mutual expectations. Agree upon a cloud-based system for all parties to use (and how your team will use it). G-Suite is pretty affordable, while other project management apps like Asana, Basecamp, and Trello all offer free options to help organize your project.
Don’t schedule launches on Fridays, weekends, or holidays without planning well in advance.
This can be recipe for disaster no matter who suggests it without proper planning.
If you must launch a website or new section after normal business hours, schedule it well in advance and make sure the entire team—client and agency side—knows that after-hours availability and communication is needed.
Pro-tip: schedule any major project milestones between Monday-Thursday before 3 PM. If you’re close to a holiday, leave a minimum 2 business day buffer before or after the deployment. This ensures that a full-team is available on all sides for troubleshooting and feedback.
(PSA to prospective collaborators – our agency has a firm “No Turkey Day Triage” policy).
Keep your agency informed of editorial or promotional schedules, even if they’re not involved.
This trick helps prevent a breakdown of communication, or crucial deployments happening at the same time as new content rollouts (potentially resulting in site downtime —yikes!) Help your agency and their development team help you. Their success is your success, and they’ll sing your praises until the end of time.
Never forget to treat people like people.
No matter what our individual role is, we’re all working towards the same goal. A personal touch, thank you, or sincere compliment can be a big breath of fresh air in the thick of deadlines. Make your collaborators look and feel good. Write thank you notes. Celebrate milestones. Remember—a birthday is a birthday no matter when it falls.
These are just a handful of ways we’ve found help site owners and agencies work better together. We’d always love to hear yours.