HMA is a digital agency specialising in Health, Science & Technology. Recently grown from 10 to 21 people, they are based in Yorkshire.
Nicola Tiffany, HMA's Managing Director and Barbara Pemberton, their Office Manager discuss running an agency, quality management and when to hire people.
“Synergist has streamlined our information storage, how we report on what has happened and also how we plan for the future."
“In our industry, ‘Useful’ means ‘Effective’. Dieter Rams’ point is that design isn’t merely about attractiveness. It has a job to do.
"Clients of creative agencies today make it crystal clear that effectiveness is their priority. It seems obvious, but not every agency fully grasps it.”
"Here's an example of the change in thinking:"
RESULTS. “At HMA we have always had a total focus on producing results for clients. We work hard to clarify the exact purpose of each job, and seek out the benchmarks, the impact and the effectiveness on the client’s business. It’s a key part of our culture.
“We have a very loyal client base. More than one client is still with us from our very beginnings. We feel sure that our constant drive for quality and results has been fundamental to this.”
FOCUS. “Effectiveness also relies on specialised knowledge. You can’t be a generalist and expect to make the biggest impact in everything you dabble in. In our case we committed to digital early on. We’ve been a digital agency for as long as there have been digital agencies!”
“2-3 years ago we decided to grow our business. This was not for the sake of growth in itself, but in order to be able to offer an ever-improving service to clients and a wider, deeper set of digital specialities."
"For us, that’s what growth is for.
“Another benefit: growth’s created career opportunities for the team.
“Two areas of particular growth for us are Healthcare and Science/Technology. We hired in specialist skills to manage those areas. We also have a good relationship with the University of Sheffield, both as a client and as a partner in various research projects.”
Applied to the running of an agency, Rams’ ‘As Little Design as Possible’ translates as ‘Leanness.’ Everybody’s familiar with ‘lean manufacturing’ and ‘lean startups’. I think clients are increasingly expecting their agencies to be lean too. Nobody wants to pay for bloat.”
"One ongoing aspect of our life at HMA is the need to prove to large organisations that a small agency in Barnsley can do the job.
"One way of proving our seriousness is our ISO and quality management story. It proves a commitment to excellent customer service.
"Our Quality Management is externally audited by the British Standards Institute (BSI), accred-iting us with the international standard for quality management, ISO 9001:2008."
"The way in which clients benefit is 3-fold:
Even Steve Jobs spoke glowingly about the need for process. For all their design and creativity credentials, Jobs said that “Apple is a very disciplined company, and we have great processes. Process makes you more efficient”.
“Having such a system makes sure you don’t miss anything. It helps us to maintain all aspects of quality.”
“From a Client Services perspective, Synergist is the first thing we open in a morning and the last thing we close when we go home. It contains relevant details for each client and job which make it easier to co-ordinate projects and work between us and the studio.
“We use most features on Synergist including:
Clients | Contacts | Jobs/Phases | Estimating | Purchase orders | Quotes | Billing Plans | Invoicing, etc etc"