Do you remember a time in your life when you were the new kid on the block? For a time I have been the new kid on the block in the agency world. You learn, adapt and try to reinvent yourself at a speed faster than lightning to make sure that you fit in, achieve your goals and support your new team in the best possible way.

For more than 10 years I was on the client side and in the quest for a deeper understanding of my new peers in the agency world and indeed my procurement partners on the client side, I wanted to make sure that I had an objective view and in-depth understanding of the client-agency-procurement trio.

In a financial climate that poses challenges there is no doubt that procurement needs to take a more prominent role to make sure that the client gets high-value outcomes for the investment they make into initiatives implemented through agencies. I knew that! I used to be a client, but did I really understand well enough how these three pillars of our industry could best work together for the benefit of all?

I started snooping around in the literature to see if there was something that could inform my thinking. I found very little about healthcare communications services procurement. What I did find, however, was practitioner literature from the advertising setting that gave me a hint that the client-agency-procurement relationship was at times strained. Titles like “Buyers need market clarity”and “Marketing and procurement don’t have to be oil and water”caught my interest and suggested that the relationship could and needed to be improved. In the same period I was finalizing my executive MBA, so I thought why not use the opportunity to focus my MBA thesis on really understanding this complex relationship, particularly the newest kid on the block – procurement.

After numerous hours of desk research and qualitative primary research interviews I am now able to confidently give evidence-based answers to the questions:

  • How can clients give procurement a fair chance at becoming an equal partner?
  • How can agencies optimally work with both procurement and the client?
  • How can procurement become an even stronger partner when it comes to sourcing of support with healthcare communications?

I was awarded my MBA and, as the research took a while, I no longer feel like the new kid on the block myself, but what was more important was that I got a profound and needed insight into what determines whether the collaboration between client, procurement and agency is a success .

I am looking forward to sharing this, so watch this space for the results!

Tina Hahn


1.  Snell, P. (2008). Buyers need marketing clarity. Supply Management, 13(15), 10.

2.  Dehart, B. (2010). Marketing and procurement don’t have to be oil and water. Advertising age, 81(3).