Stacy Jensen of Novo Nordisk on Scopes of Work, Agency Performance, Breaking Down Silos, and More

By Richard Benyon


Stacy Jensen Courtesy of Novo Nordisk


What Aristotle noted more than 2,000 years ago is still true today: "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Individual parts working together as one entity are worth far more than if they were operating in silos. His idea of synergy can be applied to just about everything, including business.

One company that understands firsthand the benefits of synergy in the workplace is global health care company Novo Nordisk. By moving to a standardized method of managing annual plans, the business was able to gain insights needed for spend optimization, while a formal agency evaluation program has driven improvements in agency performance. These key benefits are significant on their own, but together they assist in unlocking the coveted ROI in agency relationships.

A sound scope of work is the backbone of any business. Ensuring that the implementation and management of the scope are done properly allows a business to optimize spend. If a scope of work is the foundation, then agency partners are part of the building blocks. Managing the relationship with agency partners through meaningful evaluation serves as the key to maximizing the marketing investment.

If both of these elements to marketing success are done in harmony, the outcome can be hugely beneficial. Here, Stacy Jensen, senior manager of agency alliance management at Novo Nordisk, discusses how successfully combining scope of work and evaluation implementation directly affects business.

Q. How did you previously manage spend, and what were some of the challenges with that process?

Marketers would pour their time and effort into crafting detailed annual scopes of work (SOW). Unfortunately, despite the fact that these documents were well-constructed, they were not implemented effectively. In order for proper implementation, alignment needed to be present — not only with the agencies, but internally. However, we needed to have a better way of working. Without having a formal scope management process, the main challenges we faced focused around transparency, versioning, and cost optimization. Due to the lack of standardization across agencies, we had difficulty seeing the total agency landscape on an equal playing field. This led to the inability to gain insights through benchmarking. In addition, with very little transparency, it was hard to manage our investment as it was unclear how the money was being allocated within the agency.


Q. How do you currently manage your spend, and how does that solve the challenges you saw in your previous process?

When we examined our previous ways of working, we agreed we needed to have a better method to execute our scopes of work; eliminate the silos that existed within marketing, procurement, and agency partners; and enhance those partnerships. In order to maximize our agency investment, we knew we needed to gain cost transparency. By implementing an automated scope-of-work program, the business immediately saw efficiencies in the process. The new standardized process resulted in the transparency we needed in order to answer questions around spend optimization. We also benefited from automated benchmarking that generated insights we never received previously. With these greater efficiencies, we were able to see an overall 37 percent reduction in operation management and maintenance fees with our agency partners. This allowed our brand team to reinvest with the agency partners, enhancing the relationship and partnership.


Q. You've changed the way you manage agency performance. What's new about that process, and what drove that change?

In the past, we used a generic survey tool to manage agency performance. Unfortunately, this process was limiting and difficult to administer. Upon completing the evaluation, we realized that very little action was taken as a direct result of it. We needed to make the evaluations work for us and serve a purpose. By implementing a formal agency evaluation program that was customizable to our needs, we opened a new level of communication with our agencies, which ultimately would improve the overall relationship. Using the insights from the evaluation, we were able to pinpoint where discrepancies existed, which allowed us to course-correct any misdirected efforts.

In addition to adopting the formal evaluation, we developed clear and actionable next steps, which we were able to track and review. It afforded us the opportunity to execute a structured business review governance framework to ensure accountability, fairness, and transparency between marketing and its creative/market access AORS [agencies of record]. The BRM [business review meeting] focused on highlights, trends, and the current state of business, including robust discussion on performance assessment and gap analysis. The teams take these learnings and collaboratively work to improve and enhance the business relationship. This new way of managing agency performance helped maximize our marketing investment as the agencies had clear goals to work toward to consistently improve their performance. Our goal is to come back within three to four months to assess where we are in closing those gaps.


Q. When you compare the old and new ways you manage spend and performance, how big of an effect has that had on your business? What were the key results?

Evolving our ways of working for both spend and performance has had a big impact on the business. Individually, each area has improved greatly. The process we have in place for managing SOW has allowed the alignment of all stakeholders, with a greater level of transparency for all elements included in the scope. Our formal agency evaluation program has enhanced agency relationships and performance through open communication and meaningful action plans.

However, it is only when you look at how these processes have affected the business as a whole that you see the full spectrum of benefits. One key benefit from both of these changes has been the insights we've gained. By joining both sets of data, we can now correlate spend and performance information on a single dashboard, allowing us visibility to the full picture of marketing ROI.


Richard Benyon is the CEO of Decideware. You can email him at