Successful production partnerships

Production partnerships can allow web agencies to specialise in their chosen area of expertise and reduce project risks, while still delivering a high quality, end to end service to their client.

Industry trends are leading to specialisation

The digital industry is experiencing rapid and sustained growth, both in terms of the breadth and depth of what is being built online. You can do more (and more complex) things online, and audiences' expect that things should look great and be simple to use.

As the industry has grown and matured, each part of the digital production process has become more specialised as a result. From insights to strategy, design, development, testing, and so on, websites are increasingly requiring teams of specialists.

Rise of multi-agency teams

At a high level, digital agencies are either “full service” or specialist. In response to the deepening expertise and specialisation across the web production process, agencies are responding in a number of ways. Larger digital and branding organisation are acquiring specialist agencies to retain their full-service offering. Others are choosing to focus on their expertise and to collaborate to deliver for their clients. And many agencies are doing a bit of both - adding some specialities, but bringing in others.

Collaboration is becoming easier

Collaboration tools and methodologies have improved hugely. For Haunt, AgencyAgile provides an effective way to on-board work from our production partners, but there are many other approaches. Clients, too, are used to working with different parties, and organisations tendering work are less likely to include single-vendor clauses in their RFPs.

Increasing reliance on remote teams has also supported multi-agency approaches, including (as in our case) working across borders.

The benefits of production partnerships

These will vary but in our case, where we provide implementation part of the production process, our partner agencies cite the following as the key benefits of the production partnership model:

Not having to carry the costs of development teams between projects

Having a permanent development team is expensive and requires a “production line” model to utilise them consistently. Modern digital accounts tend to be a bit more lumpy in their demand for technical work, so carrying the cost of a development team can be crippling.

Outsourcing the risk of overruns

Implementation is also often the most expensive part of digital projects or, at the very least, is the most likely to blow out and sink a project. While our creative partner agencies don’t make big money on the implementation if we do it, they know that if they do their part well, the project will be a financial success without worrying about some undiscovered scope burning the budget.

Orienting your team around its core offering

This is basically “doing what you do best”, and can be a profound business benefit that confers genuine competitive advantage. Digital is a challenging, knowledge based industry that is constantly evolving. To become and remain an industry leader, digital agencies need to have a culture of high performance and continuous improvement. Focussing on a narrower area of expertise makes this easier to achieve.

Building successful production partnerships

We do design websites for our clients, but Haunt’s greatest strength has always been in the area of web development and implementation.

For us, the key factors to successful partnerships are:

Tight scope and budget clarity

Probably the biggest factor in the success of multi-agency approaches is achieving clarity around the scope of the implementation - what is being built, and how much it will cost. This is always important, but is a critical risk for our partners, who are often fronting the work with the client. We’ve been able to leverage our successful approach for scoping by bolting that onto our partners' production process.

Taking a ‘relationship’ view of production partnerships

Culture, collaboration and trust have a material impact on outcomes in complex digital projects, and we work hard to build these with our partners. The last of these, trust, is underpinned by clear communication and consistent delivery. Haunt invests time and energy into building a relationship with our longer term production partners because it leads to better outcomes (and makes working with them more fun).

Involvement from the beginning of the project

While the bulk of our work happens in the latter part of a project, important decisions are made at the start. We try to get involved in the early conversations wherever possible. We’ve found this is especially essential when clients’ IT/Security teams are involved.