Procurement in a digital world

April 4, 2016

Steven Parker, managing director of Digital Allies, lecturer for the Digital Marketing Institute and a CIM Tutor through NESMA, reveals what’s important when employing a digital agency

With the use of digital becoming ever more ubiquitous in our daily lives, the importance of organisations that deliver a satisfying customer experience has become even greater.

There are many platforms and software options available but it can be a tricky minefield to navigate.
Investment in digital is increasing, fast, and getting it right can have great rewards. Getting it wrong, however, can be devastating.

At Digital Allies, we’ve developed a digital procurement framework, which covers the following pertinent points I feel are key to getting it right.

Don’t be brief with the brief

As the old cliché goes, ‘if you fail to plan then plan to fail’. We encourage clients to spend time with prospective providers to define what a website or digital marketing campaign is expected to deliver. By really understanding your goals and objectives, you can turn that into a compelling and detailed brief, which your chosen agency will thank you for. Clarity on both sides of the fence is a useful point of reference throughout the project timeframe.


Share your budget from the start

It is almost taboo in initial meetings to share what the budget for a project is. In our experience it is always advisable to have a budget in mind and share that right from the get-go. Allow a contingency budget, too. Allowing flexibility and creativity can lead to additional options that you may not have considered, but ensure this is a secondary ‘nice to have’ section of the proposal.

Meet the team – the actual team

When thinking of working with any third party organisation it’s advisable that you meet the team who are actually delivering the project, not just the slick and polished front-of-house sales or account management team. Are you being passed off to an intern or apprentice but paying senior rates? Find out how long they have been with the company and how settled they are. The last thing you need halfway through a project is the lead developer or campaign manager to leave the business. This can lead to a breakdown in relationships and missing key project milestones. A ‘chemistry session’ is an advantageous part of the procurement process, allowing you to work out whether there is a cultural fit prior to signing on the dotted line.

What’s the agency’s capacity?

Finding out how quickly the agency is taking on new clients can be an indication of whether it is going to meet the KPIs set out in the initial brief. If it is bringing on clients at a rate faster than it is bringing in new recruits, then there may be some obstacles to overcome down the line.

How do you fit into their portfolio?

Are you a big fish in a small pond or the other way round? You need the agency and team working on your account to be engaged with your ambitions and goals. Does your brand make a difference to their portfolio? Are they likely to submit your brand to awards, write press releases and such like? An agency should be as proud to talk about your brand as you are, after all, they are representing you to wider stakeholders and that should shine through.
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