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[_] Are agencies broken?

Keith Jackson keith at ministryotech.co.uk
Tue Jul 14 09:44:24 BST 2015

Hi all,

I think this all fell out of a comment I made about agencies way back at the start of the thread. I was, in fact, referring to recruitment agencies rather than true software service agencies (The recruitment agency model is EXTREMELY broken IMO). I didn't want to interject though as the debate has been so interesting.

Yours,
Keith

-----Original Message-----
From: Underscore [mailto:underscore-bounces at under-score.org.uk] On Behalf Of Craig Francis
Sent: 14 July 2015 09:14
To: underscore at under-score.org.uk
Subject: Re: [_] Are agencies broken?

Apologies Nic, I just took your comment about agency margins being squeezed as effecting their whole setup.

In which case we probably agree, some clients will still want to work with an agency, and some may choose not to (possibly resulting in less work for agencies, or less potential revenue).

Whereas more freelancers/contractors might find it better to work with the clients directly (which, back to the original point, could allow their rates to go up).

Craig



On 13 Jul 2015, at 18:19, Nic Rodgers <nicrodgers at gmail.com> wrote:

> To clarify,  my original comment was referring to the agency financial 
> model being broken. It was in response to a comment from Tom saying 
> he's often unable to bring freelancers in to his agency because the 
> freelance day rate is surpassing (or nearing) their own agency day rate.
> 
> It was not a comment around why or when companies would choose an 
> agency over a freelancer. Indeed there are plenty of cases where 
> choosing one over the other makes absolute sense - it's not a simple 
> "x is always better than y".
> 
> Unfortunately, running an agency is hard - the margin is small and 
> constantly squeezed, no matter how you look at it.
> 
> Nic
> 
> On 13 July 2015 at 17:56, Keith Jackson <keith at ministryotech.co.uk> wrote:
> 
>> 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 under-score.org.uk] On 
>> Behalf Of Craig Francis
>> Sent: 13 July 2015 17:48
>> To: underscore at under-score.org.uk
>> Subject: Re: [_] Are agencies broken?
>> 
>> On 10 July 2015 at 13:55, Nic Rodgers <nicrodgers at gmail.com> 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 hobbyistsoftware.com> 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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