Extend Your Agency’s Digital Capabilities — Build, Buy, or Partner?
Growth strategy is perpetually top of mind for most agency owners and leaders. One common way to facilitate growth is by extending digital and technical capabilities. These additional capabilities can open new revenue streams with existing and prospective clients and help to ward off ambitious competitors.
As a result, many agencies are continually evaluating their options for expanding their technical offerings. Options typically include building internally, buying another company, or partnering with complementary companies. Acquiring a company is obviously not something that happens quickly, easily, or is even financially feasible for many agencies.
This leads most companies to evaluate their ability to build internal technical capabilities while also considering partnering options. However, there's a variation on the build vs. partner decision that deserves additional consideration.
Partner to Build Internal Capabilities
Another option is to select a partner with a shared understanding of collaborating on client work while also building internal knowledge and experience - essentially, a mentor-protégé team arrangement that also provides current revenue and addresses client needs.
A simplified view of this partnership could look like:
- Pre-project knowledge sharing, training, and enablement on the underlying technologies and industry best practices. • Process, workflow, and toolset planning and alignment (with a focus on long-term enablement and the preferences of the internal teams).
- Shared development with pair programming and code reviews.
- Post-project debriefs, lessons learned, training, and governance plans.
At this point, the internal team may be fully equipped to run projects independently, or they may opt to have the mentor partner team assist on additional projects. A good partner will be available for additional support in the future if needed.
There are some added costs to cover the partner's additional role in training and onboarding the protégé's internal team. However, investing to build internal experience and capabilities is well worth the additional cost.
- Speed: Hiring and building internal capabilities takes time, especially for high-demand technologies like Sitecore, Drupal, or React.
- Risk: Taking on your first project for any technology comes with inherent risks and a steep learning curve, which shouldn't be experimented with on client projects.
- Cost: Technology learning curves often lead to unexpected budget overruns. Estimating budgets without prior experience using those technologies is dangerous.
- Quality: Collaborating with an experienced partner in new technologies will likely result in a higher quality end product.
- Enablement: A strategic partnership to build internal capabilities is a long-term investment for future growth.
- Culture and stress: Rapidly hiring or training a new technical team for a key client comes with obvious risks and can negatively impact employee morale. Leaning on an experienced partner allows for gradual team building on a realistic timeline.
- Partner relationship: Good partners are hard to find. A shared understanding of the end goal allows for an appropriate transition and avoids potential ambiguity and miscommunication in the future.
How We Support Other Agencies
Extending into new technologies: Whether an agency is looking to build their first React or React Native app, wanting to shift to decoupled DXP architecture, or expand from WordPress or Drupal into Sitecore or Optimizely, we’re ready to help.
Adding depth to existing teams: We support digital agencies needing to add additional technical resources to their existing teams. Our team also regularly integrates with internal client development teams. We collaborate to align processes and toolsets to best support our partner and client teams.
Training and onboarding: We can help enable and onboard your technical staff so that they are ready to handle future projects and ongoing support needs.
Flexible models: We offer flexible contract and pricing models, including hourly, project-based, fractional development teams, and pre-paid retainer models.