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5 Essentials for Working on a Cross-Agency Project

Working with another agency on a client project can be both an enlightening and a challenging experience.

Managing new personalities and work styles, adjusting to the other agency’s work or sprint schedules and having your work or expertise questioned can be a lot to take on. However, working with another agency can also result in some really spectacular work that wouldn’t have been possible without bringing the two teams together.

Here's some of the lessons we've learned from working on cross-agency projects:

Embrace Collaboration - Working on a project with two agencies, multiple disciplines and many team members can be difficult, and accounting for everyone’s different styles can make it even harder. Both agencies want the best for the client, but one team’s idea or suggestion can create more work for the other team and vice versa. Work together to find the best solutions and ensure both teams are comfortable with the amount of work on their plates.
 Establish Timelines - Being transparent about timelines and hours projections is invaluable. Although there can be many unknowns around timing, especially in areas of the project that have more technical components, it’s crucial to set internal deadlines, and it’s even more important to be up front about calendar planning and project milestones. Everyone involved in the project—including the client—should have a clear line of sight.

Ask Questions - People don’t know what they don’t know, which is why it’s important to ask questions, even if they seem too abstract or too obvious. Prior to a formal planning meeting, take a pass at determining project requirements or creating user stories and jot down questions as they arise. Even if you think your questions may have been discussed already, ask them. It’s entirely possible the other agency hadn’t discussed or even thought of your question. Having an open, honest and direct discourse facilitates collaboration.

Schedule Check-ins - Pick a regular time to meet. Whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly or daily, set aside a reserved slot for all parties to come together either in person or remotely. Some check-ins may be short and or even seem unnecessary, but some will help sort out questions or roadblocks you’ve encountered since the last time you met. It’s guaranteed time when everyone is together and hearing the same things.

Be Flexible - Sometimes due to timelines, budget or resource constraints, we’re forced to change directions. It can be an adjustment doing things a different way than you’re used to, but embracing new techniques or methods can result in professional growth, both on an individual and a team level.

A successful cross-agency experience requires constant communication and careful planning, but it also requires both parties embrace a spirit of partnership. Great work only gets created when all team members feel safe sharing ideas and offering constructive criticism, so make sure you establish transparency, flexibility and congeniality from the get-go.