Workshops are a valuable and increasingly popular way to manage the agency selection process - particularly where time is of the essence. They enable the client and agency to get an immediate and deeper insight into the realities of working together. Typically, a workshop will be a half-day session in chemistry assessment, team building, problem solving, normally with just one agency that has emerged from the selection process as a front runner. It is an exercise involving both you and the agency personnel who will work on your account should they be finally appointed. It goes beyond the 'beauty-parade' of the traditional agency pitch and brings client and agency together in a live and practical process that concentrates on the client's specific requirements.
The term "trial project" is often used to describe short-term projects, which are used to help rehearse a relationship before a formal commitment to a contract. Once you have been through the earlier phases of the selection process and have arrived at a shortlist of favoured agencies, or ideally just one front-runner, the final choice or confirmation can be made through the assignment of a paid trial project.
However, with this option, you should check the contractual terms with the existing agency to ensure that it is entitled to instruct another agency in this way. This can be a costly option in terms of time and money as you may have to pay both the incumbent and another agency for their time and work.