The Service Delivery Maturity Index can help.
All agencies are being challenged right now on multiple levels. Increased demand for digital-first thinking and brand experiences, project work replacing AOR relationships, and hyper competition are just a few trends making it significantly tougher to grow, or, in some cases, simply sustain a profitable agency business.
Though client needs have changed, few agencies have. I believe it’s because most agencies have operational blind spots. With just a few operational changes, they could become so much better. And it starts by answering three questions:
- Is our current service model aligned with what clients need and expect?
- Do we have an operational edge in the current market environment?
- Are we set up to survive with where the industry is trending?
Introducing the Service Delivery Maturity Index®
To help agencies uncover their operational blind spots and to identify the best opportunities to focus on for the quickest benefit to the business, I’ve created the Service Delivery Maturity Index. This one-of-a-kind tool creates internal consensus around what’s working, what’s not working and a vision for change. It also jumpstarts the necessary continuous improvement and goal-setting programs to ensure agencies maintain momentum and reap the benefits.
The Service Delivery Maturity Index measures the health of your agency’s service delivery operations against best practices for today’s market environment. By uncovering operational blind spots in five key areas, it highlights the gaps or other issues preventing you from becoming a better agency. I designed it for Lodestar clients, but because of its proven effectiveness, I’m now sharing it with others.
The Index focuses on these five key areas:
- Service strategy and value delivery: Hone your services to match the precise needs of your “right-fit” client types for improved pricing opportunities and profitability.
- Quality and profitability: Heighten the performance of your teams and process so you can deliver greater value, faster, with less effort.
- Accountability and people management: Build the organizational and team structure that enables departments and teams to deliver the value clients expect.
- Client retention and referrals: Introduce and optimize client management practices for account growth and retention for greater financial stability.
- Measurement and innovation: Develop innovation programs and KPIs that will help you maximize value, reduce costs and inform your decision-making process.
For each of the five key focus areas, the Index uses a 15-point scale that moves through five stages of operational maturity:
- “Just getting by” (1-3 pts): The early stages of service delivery operations
- “Defining direction” (4-6 pts): When focus becomes the priority
- “Standardizing” (7-9 pts): When scalability becomes the priority
- “Elevating” (10-12 pts): When growth becomes the priority
- “Maintaining” (13-15 pts): When innovation becomes the priority
Using the Index: When and How
Use the Index when you want to identify ways to improve any of the following:
- Focus and competitiveness of the agency
- Quality of work (or costs from frequent rework)
- Profitability of client relationships
- Turnaround time for projects
- Percent of projects completed on time
- Overall team effectiveness
- Resource management and utilization
- Employee satisfaction and retention
- Average revenue growth per account
- Client satisfaction and account growth
- Performance measurement and innovation practices
Consider the following ways I’ve applied the Index and try one for your own agency:
Establish alignment (or uncover misalignment) of your agency’s current condition
Have your leadership team score your agency against the Index to collect their perceived current state of affairs. Then discuss each person’s reasoning behind their scores. Based on the feedback, begin to define where you want the agency to be in the short- and long-term.
Establish a benchmark and get agency-wide buy-in on where you need to improve
If you don’t already measure your agency’s performance in the five areas of the Index, do so to establish a benchmark. Convert part or all of the Index into a survey and send it out to your entire agency. You’ll get a mix of qualitative and quantitative data that you can (and should) present to everyone. Use the data to spark conversations about next quarter’s goals and how each department and individual could contribute to helping the agency improve.
Set quarterly goals and metrics in the areas you want to improve
Combine the two previous examples to create a foundation for a continuous improvement program. Use the feedback to align your agency’s focus and priorities around specific improvement initiatives and quarterly goals.
For small agencies, trying the first or second example from above may be enough. Midsize and larger agencies will get the most value from implementing all three examples.
Taking the next steps
Try just one of the examples I shared above. At a minimum, you’ll better understand how your team views your agency and the topics you may want to bring into your next agency planning session.
If you do use the Index, or if you simply have some thoughts about how to improve it, please let me know. You can get me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d also be happy to answer any questions about steps you can take afterward to make sure the exercise leads to actual measurable improvements.