How to use Synergist for accurate agency forecasting

 |  In: Agency management | Product

Forecasting is a crucial necessity for any agency, but it's also one of the biggest challenges. Knowing what's coming in is essential to ensure that you have the right resources to deliver it. You need to keep track of what's being billed to ensure that you cover your costs, and you also need to forecast your profits to plan future growth.

Typically, agencies use different spreadsheets and systems to track opportunities and existing client business, and have weekly meetings to discuss pipelines. But in fast-moving agency land, things change quickly, and it can be hard to keep up with what's in and what's out. Budgets change overnight, jobs get delayed without warning and sometimes (often) you'll get those 'can you just quickly do this' jobs. Even the most diligent agencies can sometimes get a bit lost in their forecasting.

This is where Synergist can become your (almost) crystal ball. Here's how Synergist agency management software can help you gain a better grasp of what the future might hold...

Agency pipeline forecasting

This is created using 'opportunities' in Synergist and can forecast your future revenue, gross profit, capacity and billings. Synergist manages all your new business opportunities (prospects), existing client opportunities and live projects, so you can see everything in one place.

You can add all the job info, attach briefs, a high-level quote, key dates, notes and activities to follow up. Plus, you can add classifications and custom fields, allowing you to analyse your sales performance.

The Sales dashboard shows your pipeline forecast, broken down by pipeline stage or rating. For example, you could rate opportunities by cold, warm or hot. You can customise these filters to whatever you use in your agency.

You can see quoted value, profit, or the number of opportunities, and filter it by clients, prospects, or both. What's really good is that you can 'weight' your opportunities based on the likelihood the work will go ahead. For example, if it's a 25% probability, it would show 25% of the value.

Top tip: It's a good idea to consider what you actually need your teams to be seeing. Synergist has lots of functionality to show pipelines, opportunities, cold/warm/hot prospects, brand new business, recent business, weighted and unweighted values, percentage ratings... but it might be overkill to show absolutely everything. You can choose the functionality and visual views which work best for your teams to give them the information they need in a simple format.

Agency billing forecasting

Your billing forecast helps you understand what you're going to bill each month. Again, it can be looked at by revenue or profit, weighted or not. You've also got control over how far in advance you want to see it and whether to include weighted/unweighted opportunities. You can also use this to track your forecast vs your target and what you've actually invoiced.

These are generated by the Billing plan functionality. Billing plans allow you to map when you are expecting to invoice for a job. They can be set up to reflect a milestone delivery plan, recurring monthly billing agreements, or a client-agreed invoice schedule.

Top tip: Updating the figures and dates if they change helps keep an accurate forecast, and you can move dates around quickly if things slip.

The job's billing plans screen lets you see what's been quoted, planned, and invoiced. You can also choose to see PO costs and estimated gross profit values by month. Again, the choice is yours in terms of how much you want to see or not see. Preferences allow you to set what is visible on the screen, so you can hide some of the columns if it's getting overly complicated. Plus, you can export this data if you want to use it in Excel.

If you use Revenue management, you can also use Synergist to forecast the recognised revenue. So if you're invoicing your clients in advance and deferring to recognise income at a later point – usually when you've delivered the work – you can use Synergist for this type of forecasting too. The Revenue Management module gives you a dual purpose in the Billing Plans to be able to forecast invoicing but also forecast when that recognition will be based in line with delivery of the job.

A sales target can be applied to individuals on your team or to the clients you work with. Your total targets feed through to your Sales dashboard, showing a percentage complete target figure based on estimated or actual revenue or profit.

Agency capacity forecasting

Knowing where you have availability to take on extra work, where you can fill gaps, or where you might have resourcing issues is key to managing your team's utilisation and making sure everybody is busy on billable work - but not overcapacity.

There are two types of capacity forecasts in Synergist. The short-term forecast is on the scheduling dashboard, which is populated by booking time into the Synergist calendar bookings. This gives a short-term forecast for the time period you have set – days or months, depending on how far into the future you book. You can then see how much time is available in that period, and view both team and individual availability too.

The second type of agency capacity forecasting is longer-term and based on estimated hours to be delivered on jobs in each time period vs what's already been booked.

You can view capacity by team, skill set or individual over the coming days, weeks and months. And, see how winning opportunities would impact your resources to make sure your agency is resourced correctly for the work that's coming in and check the timescales to deliver this work match with availability.

It's important to work out each individual's available hours vs. target utilisation (or chargeable) hours. You can set per individual how many hours you would expect them to deliver each week. So 40 hours might be their whole working week, but how many of those hours are chargeable? And that's where your target is driven from.

In summary...

Accurately predicting revenue and capacity is one of the biggest requirements—and one of the biggest challenges—for any agency. Synergist helps you get a grip on your agency's reality. Having that visibility in a single system is a very powerful tool for your agency.

Keeping your data complete, accurate and up to date is key to forecasting. Synergist's data validation, mandatory fields, alerts and reminders ensure that you get the best and most accurate picture possible.

Then you can let the system work its magic...

There are so many ways to view, input, categorise and report on your data within Synergist. It doesn't need to be a scramble for information or a guessing game. With Synergist, you'll have the full picture (no crystal ball needed).

Want to see Synergist in action? Book a demo, and our agency experts will show you how Synergist can be tailored to your agency's specific needs.