Can you accurately forecast your agency’s profit and loss?


A resource for agencies


A lot of the agencies we speak to are struggling to accurately forecast their profit and loss. The crux of this is the challenge of revenue forecasting in the current climate. Yet accurate forecasting is essential, it drives crucial decisions such as resourcing requirements.

Given resource is often an agency’s biggest expense, how much resource do you need in order to deliver your current work, and work that’s in the pipeline? Basically, what are you going to spend and what you’re going to earn?

There are three core areas to this forecasting:

1) Where are projects currently up to

and therefore when is billing likely to happen (if billing is dependent on a certain level of project progress)? 

2) What is currently forecasted in the pipeline

for new clients? How likely is it to land, and when is that likely to be?

3) What is forecasted for existing clients

and again, how likely is it to land and when do you think it will happen? 

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If you have the key information that will allow you to see this, buried deep within people’s heads or squirreled away in multiple spreadsheets. Then it’s very hard to gain any financial clarity and to make accurate decisions on key aspects of your agency such as how much resource you require.

If you’re piecing all this information together manually, and involving lots of different people, then there is a lot of room for error. You’re also not seeing a live picture, so there can be surprises month to month. A project that looks healthy now, can appear completely different in your end of month p&l. Agencies need to be looking at these figures continually throughout the month.

This scenario has left a lot of agencies in the dark about their forecasted revenue at a time where razor sharp clarity is essential. There is no leeway on profit. Non-profitable projects can no longer be swallowed up by the more profitable ones. Every project needs to turn a profit.

"Agencies are famous for being run on creativity and growth, but in these uncertain times, they have to be run on a more mundane, practical basis,” said Greg Paull, principal at marketing consultancy R3. “The agency CFO is going to be this year’s MVP.” 

Source, DigiDay 


How can you see profit and loss more clearly?  

Synergist is one system for all your project information. This means that the financial truth of every individual project, and the financial truth of your overall agency is always visible. 

Without a single conversation, you can pull off reports in an instance that will give you clarity on everything you need to know including; what's been billed, what’s in the pipeline in the short and long-term and overall agency profitabilityas well as profitability by job, job type and client 


Current health

This enables you to immediately see the current health of your agency in black and white fact so you can accurately forecast your profit and loss. And you can pull off the figures in an instance, as many times as you need throughout the month, so in uncertain times with a constantly evolving picture, you don’t have to wait until the end of the month for financial clarity.

Crucially, it will also strategically guide you towards more profitable projects in future. You can see with absolute clarity, what type of work, client and project size is generating you the most profit. And similarly, you may gain stark realisations that some of your clients aren’t profitable or as profitable as you thought.  

Decisions

This will help you make crucial decisions such as where you can reduce costs and how much staff you need to deliver your existing and up-coming work. Having the right resource can save you on your biggest expense, people. It can also remove the need for costly freelancers. Although, in the current climate, it’s more likely that you are struggling to find work for existing full-time employees, than overspending on freelancers.

In summary, Synergist provides you with the crucial information you need for better budgeting, better resourcing and better decision making.  

Here’s more detail on some of the key features within Synergist that will help you forecast your agency’s profit and loss:


1. Synergist billing plans

Billing plans are the backbone to forecasting profit. Synergist billing plans give you a live, evolving forecast on guaranteed billing and possible billing.

Billing plans

Synergist’s billing plans show you confirmed and tentative work. Tentative bookings come with a percentage weight so, without asking anyone, you can see how likely it is to land. This percentage likelihood can be adjusted over time. 

You can also look at fixed dates for billing and relative dates. Relative dates being subject perhaps to a certain amount of project progress. If you have Revenue Recognition switched on, then its also possible to plan for your recognised amount within your billing plans. 

Invoicing

When it comes to invoicing, Synergist allows you to pull in data from the quote, completed work and billing plans. This can be branded and sent straight to the client. You can even bill multiple jobs on the same invoice. And remember, Synergist integrates seamlessly with all leading accounts systems.

Billing

2. Synergist financial reports

Finance

When it comes to financial reporting you don’t have to wait until the end of the month, and in the current climate you shouldn’tThere is so much uncertainty and the financial picture is changing day to day. Synergist holds all your live project information so reports are instantaneous and available on all key metrics including; profitability by job, job type and client, income and billing forecast, new business forecast, purchase accruals, staff utilisation and capacity and work in progress.

These reports give you an immediate and clear understanding of what is going on within your agency in the short and longer-term so you can plan resource accordingly. There reports also eliminate end of the month surprises.  

More details on these reports can be found on our key reports page. 

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3. Revenue recognition

Synergist supports revenue recognition, an accounting practise that gives you an honest understanding of what’s been earned each month, rather than what’s been billed. You recognise only the work that you have completed so you gain a clear understanding of real profitability and don’t see peaks and troughs at the beginning and end of projects. 


4. Sales dashboard

Your sales dashboard is a personal display that you’ll see as soon as you log onto the system. You gain a clear, real-time view on important sales drives including; confirmed work vs targets, planned vs actual billing, chargeable hours sold vs capacity.

This daily forecast update can guide crucial decision making through the month to ensure you make positive steps towards a healthy P&L and any chances to the expected, are unearthed as quickly as possible.

Sales

5. Capacity planning

Capacity

The capacity management feature in Synergist is a clear interface that allows you to see team, department and individual capacity. Information is driven from the schedule and gives an immediate picture of everyone’s capacity in simple red, green and amber.

You can see capacity in the short and long-term helping you accurately forecast staffing requirements based on confirmed and tentative work. You can also focus your new business efforts on work that will keep everyone in the amber.  

You can learn more on our Capacity Planning page. 


Ensuring projects are profitable

It’s worth highlighting that Synergist doesn’t only help you forecast your profits, it helps you ensure your projects are profitable in the first place.  

When schedule, timesheets, estimates and billing sit in silos you’re often getting through the work with little or no understanding of whether you’re getting paid for the hours.

As Synergist holds all your project information and everything is integrated, you can easily see whether or not your team is being paid for every single hour they work. And you can make crucial decisions accordingly for more profitable projects with less over-servicing. 

Synergist also shows you complete previous project history. So you can ensure your estimates are accurate, giving you confidence that you have allocated the right amount of hours to the project in the first place.   

Here, you can learn more about the benefits of one system 

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