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[_] Are agencies broken?

Keith Jackson keith at
Mon Jul 13 17:56:12 BST 2015

Hi Craig,

Big +1 from me on this.

I don't think that agencies are broken either - I think the two offerings are quite different depending on the needs of the client, but I do think we're breaking into something different.

I find direct client working is far more satisfactory for both parties and I think the ideal solution is the collective model which I am working to build up at the moment with a flexible group of independent software experts working together co-operatively alongside a given client.

The client gets the benefit of multiple heads on the project that they would get with an agency but with the intimate direct relationship they get with an independent developer. The developers and client can work together to build a team that fits their specific requirements and the devs in the team get the benefits of cross skilling that they would get from working with an agency.

-----Original Message-----
From: Underscore [mailto:underscore-bounces at] On Behalf Of Craig Francis
Sent: 13 July 2015 17:48
To: underscore at
Subject: Re: [_] Are agencies broken?

On 10 July 2015 at 13:55, Nic Rodgers <nicrodgers at> wrote:

> I've been saying this for a while now, but I'm pretty convinced the agency model is broken.
> Rather than companies going to agencies because freelance rates are too high, I suspect many of those agencies will dissolve because their margins are so squeezed, and the freelance/contract market will heat up - a lot.

On 13 Jul 2015, at 15:05, Rob Jonson <rob at> wrote:

> I don't buy that. Companies go to agencies because they (at least pretend to) offer more than a freelancer.

I'm not saying I agree completely with Nic, but I am starting to wonder if working directly with clients (what I do now) can create a better relationship.

For reference I've worked with a few clients (though an agency, and directly), where the agency setup (or those particular agencies) didn't really work that well for them.

In comparison, I (as the programmer, not designer) can now...

- Now talk to clients directly, and have a much better idea of what they want.

- Remove the management layers (it's not always a good thing).

- Provide direct technical experience (I've worked with several account handlers, all wonderful people, and I've even got a couple of them writing/running SQL and checking DNS config, but sometimes the client wants an answer straight away, and the separation and translations can cause issues... that said, some clients just want magic to happen, and won't care either way).

- I can, and still do, recommend people who I know can help out on the projects (potentially making a much larger team, not that large teams get things done quicker).

- It can create more stability (one client had to work with 5 different account handlers during a single project, another had a range of different programmers working on it, etc).

- It is considerably cheaper.

- And you can create a great relationship with the people who work at those companies (e.g. I've been to a few leaving dos, have been on a few bike rides with someone who now lives near to me, and I can often talk about non work things).

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