Finding the right agency for your business is one of the most critical decisions when you are outsourcing. This decision should be taken in a structured & objective way. Otherwise, this can affect not only the ROI of your project but in some cases even the completion of the same.
The reason for this is simple. The service provider landscape is changing every day. New technologies, solutions and expertise are being built and the number of service providers is increasing. All service providers claim to be great at what they do and sometimes its hard to tell. Finding the right agency for your industry, budget & project, in such a landscape, will continue to be complex for some time to come.
To solve this problem & help companies in finding the right agency for their business, we have developed a framework. This framework (which includes an excel based tool) is to be used to evaluate the proposals you receive from multiple agencies for your brief.
The 5 Cs that you must evaluate for every agency
Credentials refer to the overall ‘pedigree’ of the agency. This can be ascertained from information such as their team size, no. of years of operations, the kind of clientele they have, and the scale of their operations. Agencies typically give this information as well as talk about any awards & recognition or significant achievements when they introduce themselves to clients. The credential, in short, is the history of the agency.
Capability is the fitment of the agency for you. This is about how suited the overall agency is to your specific industry & project. You should look out for relevant industry experience, exposure to similar work, the quality of their approach as well their work with clients like you. Experienced managers also judge capability from the way the agency articulates its understanding of your brief. If an agency is displaying high subject matter expertise and can add value to the execution as well as the strategy of the project, they deserve higher marks on the capability parameter!
Capacity is the quality of the delivery team that has been assigned to your project. Agencies may put forward their best people during the client interactions & pitches. However, the project is eventually done by the delivery team. You can judge the capacity of the delivery team from the profile of the project lead & the team members, the review mechanisms as well as the senior management’s involvement from the agency side in the entire project. If you are satisfied with the credentials & capability of the agency, you can always negotiate to get the right capacity. Hence, we recommend that you give the marks on this parameter only after the agency has given the final delivery team structure.
Culture is the bedrock of your association with the agency. We especially recommend that you assess their flexibility & collaborative approach as important ‘culture’ parameters. You can judge this from their hunger for your project, their overall accommodativeness as well as openness to change and iterations. Most complex projects go through ups & downs and the culture fit between the agency & the client determines how those wrinkles are addressed.
Cost is of course one of the most important parameters! The diligence required here is to look beyond the headline cost into the detailing. Many elements impact the cost including delivery time, designing, hosting, support, number of resources, quality & experience of the developers or designers, etc. You must ensure that you are comparing like to like e.g. not comparing one quote which is for license purchase and implementation to another quote that is only for implementation. It may be a good idea to create a costing sheet that you can use to compare across agencies.
Using the above parameters as a background, we have created an evaluation tool for finding the right agency for your business. We recommend that for important projects, you ask your team members to read the note above and use the excel-based tool (explained below) for agency evaluation.
Benchkart Agency Evaluation Tool
We are providing you with a mathematical tool – which you can use to evaluate multiple agencies or outsourcing partners. Each agency is to be evaluated across the 5 Parameters (the 5 Cs) with each parameter having a specific weightage. Evaluation can be done by assigning a score (1-10, 10 is better) to each parameter basis the information provided by the agency as well as the interaction & presentations done by them. We further recommend that the agencies be evaluated by a panel (not more than 3 members). Based on the common evaluation of the panel across these 5 parameters, a weighted team score for each agency is arrived at. By comparing the team scores across agencies, it becomes much simpler (and less subjective) to finalize the agency you should work with.
We understand that finalizing an agency is an art and a science! By no means, we are recommending that the agency with the top score should automatically be awarded the contract. Even if you want to deviate from what the tool is recommending (esp. if the scores are very close), the scores are a great way to have richer conversations. E.g. If an evaluator has given a significantly higher or lower score to a particular agency on a specific parameter, they may have a point of view that can be an insight to the others.
We have recommended equal weightage for each of the 5 parameters (20%). You can change it in the excel tool if you feel a different weightage is needed. Similarly, we have recommended that each panel member have an equal weightage in the decision-making process. You can change it if there is a significant expertise difference or if the same people are not available across all the agency meetings (though highly recommended). These changes (or addition of panel members) are fairly simple to be done in the excel tool provided at the end of the article. You can reach out to us at email@example.com if you need any assistance with the tool.
The digital world is creating radical changes in the service provider network. Companies need to become smarter in the way they evaluate who to outsource to. Our evaluation tool will help you make the process significantly more efficient, less subjective, and more transparent.
Benchkart is a leading digital marketplace for outsourcing services. We have carefully vetted service providers across industries, domains & technology platforms, and only onboarded agencies who meet our criteria. By outsourcing your marketing, creative, and technology projects through Benchkart, you significantly increase your chances of success in a complex digital world.
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If you want to download the excel tool for agency evaluation, click here