Financial Control

Does financial control feel out of reach?

You’re busy. Your entire team is busy. The entire agency is busy. But at the end of each month, what’s really been gained? Do you have that sinking feeling when you discover – too late to do something about it – that another month hasn’t fully delivered on the profits your business deserves? In short, do you really feel you have financial control?

If so, you’re certainly not alone. We meet countless such cases every year. Businesses brim-full of talent and energy, producing great work again and again. But what’s to show for it at the end of the year? Disappointing profitability figures, and few pinpoint action items that give you confidence of a turnaround.


Getting on top of agency profitability at last

You wouldn't fly an airplane if you didn’t feel 100% in control of it. If it wasn’t completely manoeuvrable, fully fuelled, well serviced and had support from air traffic control, you simply wouldn’t fly.

And yet every day you sit at your office desk in a business that is every bit as complex as a plane. You carry on managing projects, costing jobs and resource planning even though you have poor visibility over exactly what is going on and where the trouble spots lie.

Steven Clark, the Finance Director of successful branding and design agency Tayburn, told us:

“What Synergist delivers in terms of financial control is fantastic. One large prospective client asked to see our financials. Afterwards, they said ‘This is the best set of financial reports I have ever seen’."

And Steve Laird, Finance Director of Online Design & Engineering, said:

“The best thing about Synergist is the visibility it brings. It shows where the costs are, where the profits are on individual projects, and where the losses are – all giving you time to do something about it.”


Increasing team knowledge

Do you get the impression that your team is largely oblivious to the impact of their daily decisions on the business financials? It’s certainly a common problem. Individuals have been well trained in their speciality, but what about the bigger picture?

If you thought that getting them to understand the financial implications is beyond realistic expectations, think again. We see examples every day where simply implementing Synergist changes such perceptions. Teams can see how their work fits in with that of colleagues and makes a contribution. Says Steven Clark:

"It gives so much more knowledge to the account directors, for example. It’s increased the financial knowledge to non-finance staff tenfold.”


Getting to grips with time

If you were making cars for a living, you would be immersed in the costs of every component and process from start to finish. Such issues would become second nature to you. How could you thrive otherwise?

So why would you expect to survive when your product isn’t physical objects but people’s time? Time is your stock in trade. You need to know how much you have, where it is right now, how much is needed tomorrow, and how much it’s costing you.

David Ladds, Partner of London-based Public Relations and Communications firm Bladonmore, told us:

“Thoroughly understanding time and the value of time is key. For us to have scale we need to know exactly how we spend our time. It’s that simple.”


Know your utilisation

If you don’t know your utilisation you really are flying in the dark without instruments. With full visibility you would see at a glance that some people are overburdened and others are not being occupied well at all. You would also see how that picture is due to change over the days to come.

With information like that you can work to get the balance right and make smart decisions about allocations of your assets, the sorts of jobs to take on, what realistic expectations you can communicate to clients, and which projects are starting to unexpectedly slip. Sara Blannin, Finance Director of high-growth environmental consultancy ECUS, told us:

“Without a proper system you simply can’t know your true utilisation percentage. When we installed Synergist we were in for a shock: In some cases, our utilisation was more than 10% worse than we had thought. That makes a huge difference.”


Driving your profitability

Like with any system, with the wrong agency management software you may never quite discover which levers need pulling in order to maximise your profitability.

Imagine having to explain that at your Board meetingsSara Blannin has been there. She says:

“Solving the profitability problem was key. Prior to this, we could be focusing on the wrong areas. We had 54 people working hard but profits were still elusive. Now, our Exec team can go to the Board meetings every month and say ‘We’re getting it right!’ The list of things to sort out gets smaller every month. We’re down to finessing things now. There are no more instances of us not understanding profitability issues. That’s all behind us.”