Is your tech working hard enough?
We speak to lots of tech-savvy agencies who produce pure magic for their clients using all sorts of forward-thinking technology. But when asked about their own tech, things go a bit quiet.
If your business hasn't invested time in reviewing and researching how technology could enhance your internal processes, then you're sure to be missing out.
We're all so busy we don't want to stop for lunch let alone stop and make potentially game-changing technology implementations, that may cause some short-term disruption. But time spent now is time saved in spades down the line. You will have to evolve to survive, and until you do, the gap between you and your tech-adapting peers is constantly widening.
In this piece, we share some food for thought with comment from our extensive network of project-based businesses about how they’ve used tech to make their processes more efficient, increase productivity and ultimately become more profitable.
Responsive to market changes
Most companies would describe their industry as ever-evolving. It's hard to think of an industry that hasn't been disrupted, even a little, by technology. Your local poodle parlour for example presumably has a website, perhaps with online booking, and a savvy business owner will know a little about SEO. But never has it been truer that things are in a constant state of flux then when it comes to agencies. Not only is the internal rhythm of an agency naturally made up of peaks and troughs but when it comes to agencies working in the digital space, the market place and market opportunities are constantly being disrupted.
So why does this make tech for internal use extra important?
It's imperative that agencies know which clients are their most profitable, which project types reap the greatest rewards and exactly where profits and losses come from. Without this knowledge, you can't turn your ship quickly towards your most profitable work. Nor can you scale and evolve project processes to tackle emerging markets and opportunities.
The only way to understand the DNA of your business is to put technology at the centre. Having an internal system that pulls all project information together and gives you a complete insight into project success with truthful results is vital when deciding how to capitalise on opportunities and which direction to head in.
Synergist sits at the centre of everything we do, operationally and financially. Synergist has provided the backbone/infrastructure to assist with the changes in business process which were implemented to help focus the business in the right areas.
Synergist provides one version of the truth, which enables the business to make informed decisions.
Nat Gross, previous CEO Amaze
If you're working off multiple systems or spreadsheets, then you're working off assumptions as you'll only ever see a siloed snapshot of the big picture. Over time, these assumptions are likely to come further and further unstuck from the reality of the situation, making it very hard to understand what type of opportunities you can harness and how you can scale your processes accordingly.
Do you want to just carry on being a neat SME, trying to navigate the ups and downs? Or do you want more than that from it? We decided to get serious. Preparing the agency for growth, getting the basics right, making sure you’ve got the right people with the bigger picture mindset, having them run proper little cost centres and so on...
And getting a serious system to drive through the efficiencies, give you what you need and be able to grow with you. These were long-term decisions. Getting Synergist was a key part of it, and I’m glad we did it.
Mark Beaumont, Founder, Dinosaur
Step away and see the bigger picture
Do you sometimes look at the clock and it's hours later than you expected? Have you’ve been unexpectedly dragged into this meeting and that conversation or did things just take longer than expected? You've spent 3h with an Account Manager trying to decipher why a project that was on-track yesterday is now in the red.
If you're constantly fire-fighting then when do you get the opportunity to step back, and work on the bigger picture, be this the whole project or the business.
Wading through the details of every project to work out where financial concerns or anomalies have originated is both time-consuming and concerning. And that’s assuming you can find the blip. Often, if you’re working off multiple systems or spreadsheets, it won’t be possible to accurately discover what’s happened so how do you reconcile that with your financial forecasts and how do you prevent the same mistakes happening in future?
I used to have to sit down with the Account Managers every month and ask questions like 'why is this job over?' It took an enormous amount of time and we only found out what was really happening after the event.
Synergist makes it so much easier, my month-end has been cut in half. If Synergist was somehow taken away from us, it would be worse than having a fire.
Steven Clarke, Financial Director, Tayburn
Having a system such as Synergist, that is one complete system for all project and financial information makes it simple to see where all financial information has originated. Issues like over-servicing are easily spotted and addressed before they spread. Instant reports make detailed financial information immediately available and scheduled reports and project/financial alerts keep things on track day-to-day.
Synergist is the linchpin of our Quality Management System. It provides a central repository of information which facilitates project management, enables us to access information more readily and provides us with the financial information we need to make business decisions on projects and with regards to the development of the organisation.
Nicola Tiffany, Managing Director, HMA
Strengthen client relationships
If you’re a digital agency, encouraging your clients into the digital landscape, then if all your reporting and tracking is manual, then they have a right to ask why you’re not practicing what you preach.
If you can show your clients in black and white, where their money has been spent, then not only can you justify spend but you can have those more difficult conversations with less emotion. If you can show your clients, rather than tell them that they’ve been getting X amount of hours for free each week and that it needs to stop or be paid for, then it becomes a much less emotional conversation.
You’re not asking them simply to trust you, you’re showing them the facts of the situation. You’re also showing them how seriously you take budgeting and financials. If you’re that serious about your own financial future then they’re sure to trust you more with theirs.
And if you are reporting in siloes from multiple systems or spreadsheets, then how confident are you in your figures? One sure way to lose a client is to be gung-ho about costs, to later discover you were wrong.
The data that Synergist delivers allows us to have conversations with clients that we couldn’t have before. It’s the power of proof. With data in front of you, you can discuss the situation with clarity and confidence.
David Ladds, Bladonmore’s Managing Director.