How Screenmedia transformed their capacity management using intelligent data

Learn how Screenmedia use Synergist's project management tools and data to accurately forecast capacity and make informed decisions about resource allocation and recruitment.

“Synergist helps us run really well from a commercial perspective, which has helped us to create a better agency. The data from Synergist allows people the freedom to do things well.”

Karri Morgan, Production director at Screenmedia

Who are Screenmedia? An award-winning digital agency creating better digital products and services through human-centred design and technology. They work with some of the UK's most ambitious and innovative brands to transform digital experiences.

Agency type: Digital agency

Services: Consultancy, experience design, creative services, engineering and technology, data analytics, cloud and hosting, innovation

Size: 60+ employees

Location: Glasgow

Who is Karri Morgan? Production director at Screenmedia. Karri had used Synergist in a former agency, so was able to swiftly pick up the processes when she started at Screenmedia.

The problem

Rising to the capacity management challenge

All agencies are faced with similar challenges – managing project budgets and forecasting capacity amongst them. And Screenmedia were no different. They wanted to get more than just a handle on managing their capacity – they wanted to have super-tight controls, using accurate data, to make sure their utilisation was on point.

Upon joining the team, Karri has picked up the reins of Synergist reporting.

"Getting the right resource is always going to be a challenge. We need to be able to see forecasted work and opportunities to ascertain if we have enough capacity, if we need temporary freelance support or if it's time to recruit."

The solution

Taking a granular approach to capacity and revenue forecasting

Karri had used Synergist in a former agency, so was able to swiftly pick up the processes when she started at Screenmedia. And she was incredibly impressed with what she found.

"It really is phenomenal the way the agency uses Synergist to recognise revenue and forecast capacity."

Everything is done on a granular basis, with estimates and timings mapped out for each resource at each job phase. And individual people are aligned to the work, so they can forecast the revenue and profit based on an individual's charge and cost rates.

"Every week, we run a report which looks at the time estimated each month versus time booked for each job and highlights any variance. This helps everyone make sure work bookings align with the estimate, Gantt charts are accurate, and we can defer or accrue revenue to the right month."

From a capacity perspective, Screenmedia uses Synergist's resource booking calendar to see who's booked and who's not and Synergist's Scheduling dashboards to see where they have capacity.

"We pull the bookings and opportunities quote data out of Synergist into Microsoft PowerBI (using the API) to look at capacity in more detail. We can see what's confirmed (booked), what's quoted based on opportunity weightings of 25%, 50% and 75%, what's holiday, what's internal, and what's available capacity. Essentially, we have a full overview of each team member for the next 6 months. We can filter it by the individual, charge code (resource), team or client."

"This then helps to inform our business priorities and planning. We run a weekly meeting using the reports to pre-empt any booking issues before they arise and make sure we're pushing the opportunities that need to be converted. Synergist data is the focus of everything we need to action."

"When I look at the bookings and estimated time, I can see what roles we need and whether we have enough team members to cover the time. Whereas I might have automatically recruited in the past, we now have enough data to tell us whether we need this extra support long term – which is sometimes the case – or whether it would be more profitable to use freelancers in the short term. If we do need to recruit, then our forecasting gives us enough time to do this, to include advertising, shortlisting, interviewing and notice periods. Having the data far enough in advance stops us having to make unprofitable last-minute decisions to fulfil work commitments."

The return on investment

Clear visibility and accurate forecasting

Karri is clear that to get the granular and high-level data they need from Synergist is an investment of time, but one which pays absolute dividends.

"There is admin involved to get everything set up and working but it means I can give the finance team the exact numbers they need to project forecasted and actual revenue, which is an amazing outcome."

"I feel like I'm always armed with the right data to answer any questions straight away, it's right there at my fingertips. Although I report weekly, I look at the data daily, I live and breathe it. We've already thought three and six months ahead and having that longevity of view is really great for building a stable business. You need to be able to project your forecast out much further to know what you're spending today to understand what you're going to do in the future."

"Now, nothing is going unnoticed. There are no big projects about to start without the right teams in place, we're not panicking about having too much to deliver and not enough people. We've forecasted for that, reached out to contractors if we need them, started recruiting for the right roles. Put simply, data leads to better business decisions which leads to happier teams, not overloaded or under-utilised.

"The ability to get the right data means we can push to continually get better at what we're doing to drive things forward. If you don't have that data, you deliver a project and then walk away and move onto the next project, without any learnings."

Ultimately, everything that we do is bringing money into the business, so if we are controlling what's coming in and making sure it's properly resourced, we can only flourish and grow.

Karri Morgan, Production Director, Screenmedia

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