Technology…Friend or Foe? Quantifying Results for the IHA

T. Alex Blum asset.png

Sooner or later, every in-house agency is challenged to quantify results.

This is a reality.

At the outset, it’s enough just to get up and running, satisfy your stakeholders that you can produce a comparable quality of work to outside agencies or vendors, and do it consistently in an aggressive timeframe at an advantageous price point.

Mission accomplished? Sure, but now let’s broaden the capabilities of the IHA, take on more work, more stakeholders, more LOB’s, produce more assets, do it better.

Can you do it with the core team of internal resources and freelancers that you have built, or do you need to make a case for additional headcount?

As doers and makers, we all imagine that the work should speak for itself – proof of performance, quality, deadlines met, satisfied stakeholders.

But it’s not enough. Companies need numbers. How much are we saving? How much more are we producing than last year? How much for the same price? If we give you more staff, how much more can you do? Why give headcount to the IHA over other departments whose needs are just as pressing?

You need to have answers, and it has to go beyond narrative.

What happens if there is a re-org? A change in upper management?

The IHA needs a story, and a history. The success has to be documented, quantified, socialized, memorialized.

Technology should be the solution, right?

Yes, but also no.

Data is the key. Your project management system, your DAM, your resource management software – which one can give you the information you need?

The answer is probably all of them, and none of them. What you need is an analysis of the relationship between the resources you have in place, the hours they are working, the amount of work they are actually doing, and the number of assets being produced, an accurate measure of the hours being used to perform a clearly defined amount of work.

Most likely, all your martech tools have some level of reporting capability. Unfortunately, when the time comes to answer this important question, the limitations of that capability can become painfully obvious.

Priorities may vary, according to the organization, but companies have an insatiable need for data and insight, and in marketing, the IHA is no exception. Management needs to know that they are getting results, saving money, and how much. The priority may be producing more assets, or producing them quicker; most likely, it’s both. In many cases, it’s all of the above, but no matter what, it needs to be quantified.

This is specific to the IHA. Traditional agencies don’t have to deal with this problem in the same way. They track the hours they burn and how they are allocated and make sure, if they can, that the client is paying – but that’s it. The procurement people at the client negotiate the best scope for the lowest fees, and the pitch process in a highly competitive marketplace does most of the heavy lifting for them. Once that process is complete, the marketing people throw as much work at the agency as they can until the agency throws a flag. The agency tries to protect as much profit as they can. If it doesn’t work out, the account goes into review. Again.

Technology, workflow management, asset sharing, time tracking, resource management – all these tools can make essential contributions to effective, and efficient, process, but can they produce the metrics needed to tell the IHA story effectively?

The answers are there, but not all in one place. Most likely you will not get what you need off the shelf from any of your martech providers.

The only way is to take the time to put in place the specific reporting that you need to tell the story of your particular organization in an effective way by aggregating it from multiple sources within the universe of tools you have in place.

Whether you are just starting on the path of building an IHA, or managing a fully established internal agency, take the time to do these three things:

  1. Figure out the story your IHA needs to tell

  2. Define the reporting that will support that story

  3. Dig into the resources you have to provide the data

The result may not be perfect, but it will still provide an essential part of supporting the IHA.

So. What is your plan to quantify results?

If you want to hear more from us, you can join Blum Consulting Partners at Creative Operations New York this May – where we will be leading a workshop on how to become an Internal Strategic Partner. Click here and use code BLUM100 to save $100 off the registration fee.

T. Alex Blum