Many organizations find it so challenging to administer and manage an agency relationship management program that they end up skipping one of the most important phases – Action Planning.The goal of the agency evaluation process is to not simply gather opinions and information but rather develop actions that lead to constant improvement and relationship nurturing.
What actions have you implemented as a direct result of your agency performance assessment process? Is there widespread acceptance in your organization that the process is a helpful tool for keeping things on track?
"Action planning" - it's too difficult!
The main reason for not implementing Action Planning is that evaluation program managers find that they are worn out by the time they have compiled the results of the evaluation and just want it to be done. It can be very challenging to develop and prioritize the assessment criteria, identify the assessors, chase them to complete the assessment and then collate and analyze the results. A further complication can be chasing agency/supplier participation if a self-assessment of their performance is required. So if simply getting and compiling information is an achievement, going the extra mile to develop action plans can plans can be a daunting task.
But compiling information is not the end game. The whole point of an evaluation program is to develop sound action plans so that client/agency relationships will continue to improve and thrive.
How Best To Undertake Action Planning
Once the results of the evaluation have been compiled, shared, discussed, and understood with all stakeholders, marketers should review the top-line scores and comments, the overall gap analysis, and identify the most important issues and opportunities in order to develop a focused list of action steps for creating a more effective relationship. In order to keep the action plan realistic and on track, marketers may seek to limit the number of actions to the three most important and impactful.
Action Planning is best accomplished via a meeting involving the senior management from both the client and agency. Both parties should actively participate in action planning, and the joint development of this formal list of tasks should be considered the top priority once the survey is complete. At the meeting, the participants should draw on the results of the assessment phase looking for both strengths and areas for improvement. Where these ares are uncovered and agreed, the participants can develop and discuss approaches to specifically address them. Once decided, these should be recorded.
The benefits of this approach include:
- The process is de-personalized. Participants are discussing findings that have emerged from the assessment phase. The discussion is ‘informed’ by drawing on the aggregated outcome from a rigorous assessment process.
- The process is comprehensive. All important issues about the relationship (good and bad) are on the table. Participants cannot overlook matters if they go through all the assessment outcomes in a disciplined manner.
- The process is collaborative. The Agency/Supplier is in the room to participate and contribute. They have a big stake in ensuring that good Action Plans emerge. And of course, they have the opportunity from an informed positioned of being able to critique the Client’s performance and propose actions here too.
Agency evaluation is all about the Planning!
So in summary, the key goal of your agency evaluations should be Action Planning. The test of success for your process should be the extent to which it really does help keep the relationship on track.
Without action planning and subsequent action-plan tracking, continuous improvement is unlikely to occur and the relationship will continue to suffer the same problems.
For additional information on Decideware, visit www.decideware.com.
Richard Benyon is the CEO of Decideware, Inc. and co-founder of Decideware Dev Pty Ltd, a role that sees him work closely with executives in the world’s largest advertisers helping them manage the performance of, and relationships with their marketing and communication agencies.