More Than Meets the Eye
As an Account Executive, I R.C., have to keep all parties happy and in agreement even when it means juggling multiple teams, thousands of files, strict budgets, and very diverse expectations.
Here is how I do it.
File That Under “Organization”
The organization of files is a huge hurdle in project management with any outsourced partner. This also applies to content population, asset collection, and versioning. The most successful relationships I’ve been part of are ones that involved highly organized processes.
So, when you bring someone (or an entire organization) into your workflow:
- Everything should be as simple and descriptive as possible.
- There should be little need to get on a call to discuss project intricacies aside from a walkthrough regarding the general organization.
- If this takes longer than 30 minutes, your project is either highly complicated or your organizational processes are not as streamlined as they should be.
- If it is a highly complicated project, you just need to understand that these will take some administrative time to get your partner involved in your workflow. Patience is key.
- Ask yourself “Can an outsider understand this?” and “Is this best practice or just how WE do things?”
Typically, an agency’s internal process has been designed to work with the primary organization and not an additional resource.
If They Build It, Efficiencies Will Come
When it comes to revision management and how best to communicate this process, it is best summed up in one word (or really one company) – BugHerd. Here at White Label IQ, we are huge champions of this company and its software. BugHerd basically gives you and your clients the ability to annotate a website (live or in staging/development) with virtual sticky notes. It has a ton of additional features too, but the overall concept is to streamline the communication process during the revision/proofing stage.
If you like to be very iterative in your development process, this allows your agency partners to have access to the site (and their own BugHerd instance) early on in the process. A simple note early on in the process could save all of us hours of work.
And for design revision management, we use InVision. It allows you to annotate the design with notes to speed up the process. Investing in these tools saves so much time and resources, making it well worth the cost. I should also mention that if you work with White Label IQ, you get access to these tools for free as part of our offerings to clients.
One of the pain points that slows down our outsourcing process more than anything else is access to the files, sites, databases, etc. we need to complete a project.
When you are starting work with a new partner, ensure that they have all the correct and updated credentials available. We understand that there are certain permissions that you might not feel comfortable giving out, but just know that if you hold back on some permissions, you restrict our ability to solve issues quickly (or even fully).
- A great example is hosting/cPanel credentials. This is often held close to the chest, but we have had multiple instances where we went to fix an issue with a WordPress site and couldn’t resolve it because there was a problem with the hosting or the database.
There are plenty of tools for sharing passwords that I’d personally recommend. Here are two that will give you a better sense of security when giving access to your stuff.
- LastPass – Great for password management and offers a free personal account that we take advantage of to change the way we manage our passwords in and out of the office.
- Privnote – this allows you to send passwords and have them erase/self-destruct so that they don’t stay out in the universe or in your email client.
- You can also send information/credentials across multiple platforms – A great technique is to send the URL and email address/username in an email and then SMS text the password. This adds a layer of complexity to reduce the concern when giving both sets of credentials in order to access a singular platform.
Why white label your work? While I know we’ve addressed this in previous blogs, I find I have a unique perspective as an Account Executive. Here are some you should know:
- You can focus on your strategic client offerings and allow the production work to be conducted more efficiently.
- You know your client and what they need or how they need it, generally speaking, so you can get them from point A to point B easier.
- A white labeled partner can assist you with the technical details and the execution, which frees you up to be more proactive in planning and strategizing for your clients.
- With White Label IQ, you get a US-based account manager/team that will help you navigate through the process with the agency experience you’re probably looking for.
- Here, we have been in your shoes (or are currently in your shoes). That means we know the pains you deal with on a day to day basis and are equipped to address many of the typical pain points. However, we cannot fix a bad client… just hopefully make it a little easier for you.
There’s No Time Like a Deadline
Whenever you include an outsource partner into your process, you are often increasing the timeline. Why? Because there will be some back and forth initially to establish the relationship and understand the project scope. Also, if the partner is offshore, you need to allocate reaction time to overcome time zone differences. At White Label IQ, I try to be responsive to inquiries within a couple of hours of the outreach. Now, I know this cannot always be the case for all agencies or outsource partners, but it is something everyone should strive to do.
If you can, allot at least 1-2 days for follow up on quotes (you usually only need the second day for either clarification/refinement on a quote or if there’s added complexity to the project). Then, when you share timelines or due dates, make sure to include time for your internal team to work with the agency, time for the agency to review with their client, and then for your team to make all revisions required from those two interactions.
Pick Your Poisons: Speed–quality–price
I believe that one of the biggest misconceptions in the industry is that you can get fast speed, high quality, and low price – without sacrificing one over the others. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. You get to pick two. As agencies work with white label partners, they typically bring them into the process after the fact, which means your timeline is already shortened. So, while there are great white label resources out there, you need to evaluate them based on which two of the three you need; speed, quality, or price. Go into the relationship expecting all three and you will be disappointed, and your partner won’t meet your expectations.
Establishing the Relationship
To initiate a relationship with transparency and realistic expectations, you need to think about what makes you tick (and what ticks you off). Everyone does things a little differently and we want to make the process as simple and stress-free as possible for you (and us!). We don’t want to deliver something that does not live up to your expectations.
For example: if you have a small website that you want built but don’t have the budget for it, it is my job as AE to try and leave margins in the cost for you to make money (that is the ultimate goal anyway, right?) by choosing the most efficient options. However, if we are not on the same page and you expected a fully dynamic site and customizations when it was initially based on a template, we might not deliver on expectations and feelings (budgets) might get hurt.
As relationships progress, I always start by understanding the expectations (and assumptions) of all parties involved. This streamlines future workloads and builds upon itself until we are as close to a well-oiled machine as possible. I recommend starting with a small project to allow the white labeled partner and outsource teams to work through the initial curve quickly and efficiently. Then, we can jump into bigger projects with all parties having greater trust and visibility on the project and scope.
If you follow some (or most) of the principles above, you will see the light at the end of the tunnel. Your clients will be happy. Their clients will be happy. Your teams will be happy. And you can sleep well knowing you helped make it all happen.