In many organisations, progressing your projects seamlessly, getting company wide buy-in and meeting deadlines when working with multiple internal stakeholders, IT teams or upper management can be frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you’re working with an agency, it’s critical that they are familiar with the intricate workings of your own organisational structure and how to navigate it. Your ideas and your projects can move swiftly if your agency has had experience in navigating the landscape. While not every company is the same, there’s a number of key ingredients that must come together to make your project a success.
These vary but some roadblocks you may be familiar with are:
- Unwillingness to make a decision or take responsibility for a decision
- Silos within an organisation restricting bigger picture thinking
- Delays from key decision makers or upper management
- IT Department blocking tech choices or restricting access
- Internal feedback causing project delays
- Internal prioritisation & coordination
- Overwhelming task complexity
- Politics related to a decision
- Managing scope changes
Here’s some approaches your agency should be clear on to help you deliver your project smoothly, on-time and on-budget.
1. Getting to the right decision-makers, at the right time
Smaller businesses are able to be far more nimble in decision making. As a company increases in scale there are more chains of command, and for good reason. Whether they are there to ensure all activities remain on target, or all stakeholders are on the same page, working within these boundaries is key and should be embraced. For this reason, decision-makers must be equipped with a clearly defined, realistic and honest timeframe for any given task.
Often, your project may not be the biggest priority for others in the organisation, so it’s important to respect and understand the time restraints you may need to work with.
- An experienced agency will work with you to plan early, communicate and identify the individuals critical in progressing your project, such as approving budgets or strategic decisions, and include timeframes in the scheduling to meet deadlines.
- Your project manager should be thinking ahead, be clear on the chain of command, identify decision checkpoints, and how much time is needed to keep the project on track.
- Your agency needs to be able to clearly communicate the parameters around a decision for quick decision-making and define the timeframe it has to be made in.
Being respectful of time and providing all the information assists decision-makers to be motivated to ensure a project progresses as planned and understand the impact and contribution they make to a great outcome.
2. Clarity in communication and buy-in
It’s also critical that any communication coming from your agency is clear, concise and includes any relevant detail that will relate to the big picture.
When you’re not the sole decision maker, sometimes getting your ideas to spread, or getting buy-in from upper management can be hard. Since buy-in often stems from a certain level of trust, it’s important trust is established and shared from top down by all stakeholders through to the agency. This helps move projects in a timely manner and reduces friction.
- Clear and concise written communication eliminates the need for questions and feelings of uncertainty, which in turn supports the ability for key stakeholders to make swift decisions.
- Reliance upon transparent approval criteria for the decision is always critical, so it’s important that communication for key decisions include conditions and access (or reference) to relevant information that aid in making the decision, and its expected outcome.
An understanding that your agency “gets it” is important in the early phase, but then as time goes on, the relationship should be strong enough that you feel like they’re an in-house team, an extension of your business function, a trusted long-term partner for your organisation.
3. Being onsite and working with IT
IT departments rightfully have a strict policy when it comes to external access or changes in infrastructure. Digital projects, by their nature, often require an element of collaboration and integration with IT to be delivered successfully.
- Your agency should first and foremost respect your IT team’s requirements. Policy decisions are often well justified and in place to mitigate risk for an organisation. It’s critical that any 3rd party integrations are considered in these contexts and compliance with policy is ensured.
- An agency should be willing to engage in open discussion and collaborate on a solution that will lead to a positive result. They should be willing to go the long way round to get there, not necessarily the most obvious or easiest route.
- Ensure your IT team has trust in the agency’s technical ability first and the collaborative process is often a two way street, and not a struggle.
There are always strategic plans and directions that a company is heading toward. It’s important the agency is seen as a partner who is on the same journey.
Your agency should demonstrate that sufficient time has been invested in understanding where your business is headed, your objectives, a clear understanding of your audience, and an understanding of competitors in the marketplace. This allows for decisions to be made during a project that are aligned with the bigger picture and enhance a successful outcome.
Typically a mixed strategic and financial decision-making process will lead to a more successful outcome. For example, having a cross-section view of a business often influences decision-making on projects too. In this landscape, strategic plans for any business must be able to pivot, and subsequently your agency too should be open minded and flexible to pivot with you.
It’s not personal, so a great relationship and partnership should ensure a positive attitude is constant with a willingness to pivot to ensure the project can continue but work within the long term goals or restrictions of an organisation.