Good communication at the heart of a great agency

The marketing industry justifiably takes great pride in its ability to communicate clearly, creatively and effectively.  Yet, traditionally, and somewhat ironically, one perennial communications problem has often sat at the heart of many a great marketing agency for years - that being the sporadic nature of creative and finance teams ‘talking to each other’, working together and ensuring a project is delivered on time and on budget for the good of the client and company

However, for many marketing agencies, the situation that was once accepted as ‘just the way it is’ has had to change. Constant requests from clients to do more for less and the need to demonstrate ROI at every step of process, means agencies are aware that papering over the problem is no longer acceptable in today’s highly competitive business environment.

The good news is this perennial problem has also prompted the development of a range of highly intelligent social collaboration technologies, which are now available for marketing agencies to address this challenge.  I'm sure this all sounds great, but, what is a Social Collaboration platform in reality, you may ask? In short, it is an efficient and centralised real time technology platform for the collaborative planning and management of a project or initiative.

The heart of social collaboration

In detail, social collaboration tools provide a virtual place for the creative, account management and commercial employees within a marketing agency to meet, file share and monitor how a client or internal project is progressing.

This is especially important in terms of project execution for an industry that is built on trying to extract profit from a complex and fluid mix of retained and project-based clients. But critically, it is not just an internal workflow tool. An agency can (if it so chooses) also involve client stakeholders to share information, track progress and garner input where required.  This ensures there are no surprises at the end for any party, helping to bring these often disparate and silo’d groups together into a ‘project community’ focused on the real strategic goal – working together to create a more efficient, profitable enterprise.   

The Hunt for Profitability

In 2012 we conducted a qualitative survey across the marketing sector, looking at the way agencies currently managed their projects and clients. Titled, ‘The Hunt for Profitability’ it threw up some startling realities and demonstrated just how critical centralised platforms and processes for project, financial and resource management are to a company’s success. While overall the industry has a lot to be proud of in terms of leading the way in many aspects of the project management there were still some telling statistics.

For example, just 34 per cent of agencies surveyed were using any sort of centralised platform for sharing and managing project information and just the same number (34 per cent) of respondents said that financial and accounting teams were involved in budget discussions on projects. And, if the industry is already leading the way in many aspects of best practice with this somewhat limited level of collaboration and participation, imagine what it could achieve (and profit from) with a strong, centralised file sharing and project management platform.

You can be creative and commercial

This report definitely mirrors my own experience out there in the industry on a day to day basis and social collaboration technology is there to solve exactly this.  In fact, it seems the greatest barrier to the more wide spread use of social collaboration platforms is not necessarily cost or possible user adoption hiccups, but simply awareness that this proposition exists at all – also that it really does work and can literally transform a business. 

At their heart, social collaboration platforms have been designed to allow marketing agencies to get back to what they do best, creating and rolling out great, exciting and engaging campaigns for clients, but happy in the knowledge that they have an efficient and supportive collaborative framework to ensure all teams on a project can talk and prove that ‘creative’ can also be ‘commercial’.

Deltek UK, a global provider of Enterprise Resource Planning and Social Collaboration solutions.