Mastering the In-House Agency Evaluation

April 11, 2023
Jim Wallace

This article was originally published on ANA.NET in 2023

How does in-house marketing evaluate agency performance? Should in-house marketing teams evaluate the in-house agency? If so, should the in-house agency evaluation be different or the same as your external agency evaluations?

How do you currently measure the health of your relationship with your in-house creative teams? As with any good working partnership, it's important to set expectations and monitor progress and achievements.

While some may feel setting up internal evaluations can damage the working relationship, or make the agency feel like a vendor, our position is, when done right, in-house agency evaluations drive better process, output, and ultimately a better relationship.

In-House Agency Evaluations – Qualitative or Quantitative?


There are many important KPI's for the in-house team:

  • Cost and value
  • Resource utilization
  • Turn-around time
  • On-time delivery
  • Assets delivered
  • Number of rounds of reviews

But in addition to these metrics, we feel that monitoring and managing the health of the working relationship with the IHA is good both in the short-term and long-term.

In the near term, the relationship assessment offers quantitative and qualitative insight into the working relationship and the opportunity to celebrate what is working well and identify where there are opportunities for improvement. In the long term, through good action planning and ownership, you can focus on improving the opportunity areas to build the working relationship.

Similarities Between Internal and External Agency Evaluations

There are many ways to leverage the current process in place for agency evaluations. Here are some of the ways the internal agency evaluation will be the same as your external agency evaluation.

  • Utilize the same tool or platform and rating methodology. Nothing is more frustrating to your stakeholders than having to learn yet another tool or approach for the same type of evaluation.
  • Keep it on the same cadence to make it easier on your stakeholders. If you do it annually or semi-annually then don't run the in-house evaluation on a different timetable.
  • Where it makes sense, use the same questions. This will enable clients to compare in-house and external agencies on similar attributes such as responsiveness, knowledge of the business and brand compliance.
  • Treat the in-house evaluation with the same level of importance as your external partners. They certainly deserve it, and one could argue even more than outside agencies.

Differences Between Internal and External Agency Evaluations


  • Carefully scrub the key stakeholders to survey. In house teams often service groups outside of the marketing teams like HR, communication, investor relations, and others. It is important to review and add and remove folks to customize the list to drive the best insights.
  • Do not shy away from using different tailored questions. In-house agency KPI's and remits often vary from external agencies. For example, external agencies might have a specific KPI's for specialty marketing agencies like media, PR, and CRM that include questions not right for the in-house team. Go ahead and add in a few questions to help you measure and report information that is more meaningful internally.
  • Customize reports. Because the in-house team services many groups inside the company be sure to take the time to tailor the reports to drive meaningful insights that recognize specific strengths and opportunities.

IHA performance evaluations are a good best practice for in-house marketing teams who want to build and maintain healthy working relationships with the in-house creative team. After all, you do all work for the same company and share the same goals.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Jim Wallace, agency management and marketing operations expert at Blum Consulting Partners, Inc.

Blum Consulting Partners, Inc., specializes in process review, analysis, and implementation to maximize creative output, effective process, and efficient use of resources in the creative execution process. We work with agencies, creative content providers, marketing stakeholders, and in-house agencies, to identify and close gaps at each step of the creative process. We deliver solutions and implement procedures that help companies plan for future growth, deliver on expectations, communicate better internally and externally, and save time and money.

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