Simplifying Your Workflow — Why Your Creative Agency May Need a Detox

Our client-facing consultants here in Function Point are a big part of the larger team. Although each division takes care of a different stage in the process of adopting new software, our account executives, training consultants and support specialists usually hear the same questions and problems from creative agency managers. It’s the eternal “Pareto Principle” of 80/20 (80% of the agencies are affected by the same 20% of the existing problems).

The creative industry has its funny — odd — contrasts. On one side you have designers who need the time and freedom to let their creative juices flow, be bold, take risks, and to test new waters without thinking about the bottom line. On the other side, there are principals, creative directors, traffic managers and accountants that work with the big data and need reports (read ‘continuity’) to analyze if the creative work is producing the strategically planned results. It seems like a paradox, doesn’t it?

Balancing the two sides can be a difficult task. We focus on keeping things going, flowing from task to task, prioritizing what is urgent (but not always what is important) such as, the next day delivery for that big project. It can become apparent that while we’re hitting our tactical goals, we’re missing the larger strategic needs of the agency. In this way we can become misaligned and it can then be very difficult to realign our processes to the larger vision.

Out of alignment with our higher needs

A good analogy would be to think of our creative agency as a human body. We can gradually take on bad habits — eat too many cronuts and oreos, drink a few too many lattes, drive instead of walk, and just generally do what is easy and convenient — so that we can get to the point where our body is just not working well anymore. It usually takes getting to this point to see that it’s time to step back and think about the long term.

In much the same way, your agency may also need a detox — time to reset your processes, make your efforts more effective, and flush any roadblocks out of your way.

Similar to going to a physician, it’s at the moment when creative agencies realize that their processes are too complicated, inconsistent and time-consuming that they decide to adopt a workflow and project management software.

Productivity Software isn’t a cure-all

Like buying medication, at Function Point we commonly notice that agencies believe that buying workflow software licenses will solve any problem. It, most emphatically, will not!

A shiny new productivity software system like ours is more like a great gym membership. The simple fact that you are paying a fee doesn’t suddenly make you fit. The truth is: you need to workout consistently hard.

Adopting workflow management software can help you to:

  1. Create professional estimates
  2. Make sure you are charging the right amounts
  3. Keep an eye on our costs, revenue and profits
  4. Collaborate easily on group work
  5. Communicate better with your clients and capture any interaction
  6. Manage your leads and prospects
  7. Plan your jobs and track work in progress
  8. Save time when scheduling
  9. Better allocate your resources and make easier for staff to manager their workload
  10. Save time when invoicing and ensure the correct use of taxes

Becoming more efficient and having more time to spend doing what you do best, creating, seems like a dream doesn’t it?

First you need to be conscious that there is no miracle pill. You need to spend time (that will be paid off later) understanding your own agency workflow and what is blocking you from growing and being more productive. This requires a bit of analysis, but at fp. we do give our clients help along the way.

These are some questions that you should ask yourself before introducing a software to your team or trying to improve your internal processes:

  1. Do you currently create client facing estimates?
  2. How do you determine the total for the job?
  3. How do you currently delegate work to the team?
  4. How do you manage the status of each task? What reports do you require to manage tasks?
  5. How do you currently set up your retainer jobs?
  6. Who is the responsible for the tracking expenses and create invoices? How this process is organized?
  7. Do you think clients provide you with the most useful information? Are your briefs doing the job?
  8. How do you currently manage your leads and prospects?
  9. How do you allocate resources? Can you match your resources with the demand?

The point here is to encourage you to take a look at how you are currently working, how you can improve the inefficiencies and then develop a roadmap to start using the software.

Having a clear plan enables staff to become active users of the software so you can get the most out of your tool, your processes will be streamlined, and you’ll have more time to exercise your creative muscles!

Isabelle Almeida | fp. Community Manager

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