Ways to improve collaboration with agencies
Succeeding in collaboration with external agencies is not easy - it takes time, effort, and a lot of trial and error to get it right. But the rewards are definitely worth it!
Here are my top tips for improving collaboration between in-house design teams and agencies:
1. Establish a clear and concise brief
The first step to successful collaboration is to establish a clear and concise brief. This will help everyone involved understand the goals of the project and what is expected of them.
Creating a brief can be a daunting task, but there are a few simple things you can do to make it easier:
- Keep it short and to the point
- Be clear about what you want to achieve
- Set realistic deadlines
- Define roles and responsibilities
- Define the target audience or user personas
- Make sure the brief is accessible to everyone involved
- Determine which metrics you will use to report on the finalized content
With a clear brief in hand, everyone involved in the project will be able to hit the ground running and start collaborating effectively.
2. Communicate effectively - both in writing and verbally
Effective communication is essential for successful collaboration. This will help everyone understand what is expected of them and avoid misunderstandings.
It's also important to communicate regularly:
- Start with a kick-off or ideation workshop to start building relationships based on trust, and to fuel better collaboration throughout the project.
- Set up weekly or bi-weekly calls can help keep everyone on track and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
In addition to regular communication, it's also important to document everything. Basic project management tracking can be done using project management tools like Asana, Monday.com, or Trello. However, for visually led content creation, many teams find it most efficient to use their Digital Asset Management (DAM) system for centralized communications and to track decisions, comments, and review notes on versioned assets.
By documenting decisions, tasks, and progress, you can create a shared knowledge base of the project that will help everyone involved stay aligned (even if they went away on holiday or have just joined the team).
When it comes to communication, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but technology can certainly improve your ways of working collaboratively.
The key is to find a method that works for you and your team.
3. Be open to feedback and be willing to make changes
Feedback helps everyone involved understand what is working well and what needs to be improved.
However, giving and receiving feedback can be difficult. It’s important to be open to feedback and willing to make changes based on it. Otherwise, the process of collaboration can quickly break down. When feedback is given early and everyone understands why changes are made, it’s easier to develop trust among a team.
4. Respect each other’s time and deadlines
This means being punctual for meetings, responding to messages in a timely manner, setting realistic timelines, and respecting deadlines.
When everyone involved respects each other’s time, it helps to create a more efficient and productive workflow.
It can also be helpful to set aside dedicated time for collaboration, such as weekly meetings or creative collaboration, or review sessions. By setting aside dedicated time, you can ensure that everyone is able to focus on the task at hand and make the most of the time spent collaborating.
5. Manage expectations and work toward the same goal
The most important thing to remember is that you’re all working towards the same goal: to create the best possible outcome for the client. By working together as a team, communicating clearly, and setting expectations early, you can achieve great things for your clients.
6. Celebrate successes together!
Last but not least, don’t forget to celebrate your successes together. This could be anything from a team lunch or bringing cake and bubbles to your next team get-together. Celebrations can help build team morale and show everyone involved that their hard work is appreciated.
When you take the time to celebrate your successes, it shows that you are invested in the team and its success. This helps to create a positive and productive working environment.