Managing Large Scale Transitions Across Marketing Organizations
POSTED : June 26, 2012

You are the Chief Marketing Officer at a large corporation. You’ve evaluated your agency partnership and decided to make a change. Now what?

Last week, we posted about the initial considerations and actions necessary when your organization has decided to make an agency-related change. Below, we continue the post with insights on how the change may impact your organization and an example plan for managing transitions.

Analyze the impact of the change

Determining your approach to agency transitions relies heavily on understanding your own organization. Large corporations will have a complex structure that needs to be considered when beginning to plan for a large transition. You must identify all of the departments and teams that will be affected, regardless of magnitude, by the change. If your company consists of multiple business or product groups—which will be impacted? If your company is international—which global teams will be affected? If your company partners with several agencies—how will this transition change the model they had developed to work together?

Typical groups & functions affected by an agency transition

  • Corporate marketing groups
  • Business or product groups
  • Finance/Procurement
  • Analytics/Technical
  • Field marketing teams
  • Other agency partners

A well-laid plan…

A large scale transition at a complex organization is not something you want to tackle in an unstructured, freewheeling manner. To guide a company through a transition of this magnitude takes robust planning, rigid structure and a generous timeline. Give yourself lead time to develop a comprehensive project plan that considers all of the impacted groups you identified above, highlights critical milestones and deadlines, and identifies key dependencies to accomplish critical work. You’ll also need time to enlist strong, goal-oriented team members who will help you get the work done! Expect the transition to take no less than 90 days. If you have the luxury to plan for phased transitions, especially if you are engaging the new agency on a global level, it can be highly beneficial.

Approach: Divide & Conquer

You can’t do it all on your own! A team structure that has proven successful is to form specific workstreams based on functions, each owned and driven by one workstream lead who is part of your Transition Team. The workstream lead should be someone closer to the function who can identify what needs to be accomplished to achieve a smooth transition. For example, a Finance Director will be the best lead for the Finance workstream because s/he’ll understand the ins and outs of how your company is invoiced for agency services, how payments are delivered, etc.

Typical functional workstreams in an agency transition

  • Business/Product education & ramp-up: Does the new agency understand your business, products/services, challenges, competitors, marketing goals, etc.? Does the agency know about upcoming campaigns and timelines?
  • Contracts/Legal (SOWs, SLAs, etc.): What is the scope of work your agreeing to? Is the scope of work changing from what it was with the old agency? Has a new budget affected the agency’s scope?
  • Finance/Procurement: Is the new agency enabled to invoice, receive payment?
  • Data/System/Technology: Can your new agency access your intranet? Can they schedule meetings and use the internal communicator?

Next week, we’ll finish this post with insights around change management—how to effectively communicate with your organization throughout the change and what common pitfalls to avoid.

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