The key to running a successful agency is to not let it run you. Your job — in addition to providing great value for your clients — is to make sure that operations, billing, HR, etc., are working like a well-oiled machine.
We’ve put together a list of tools and technology to help you focus on the things that make your agency successful and stay focused on your customers.
Time Tracking Software
As a digital agency, it all boils down to how you and your team spend, bill, and manage time. While some agencies may have started with (or may still be using) an Excel spreadsheet to track hours, it can be quite painful to maintain accurate data — especially as you grow.
Because every minute counts in an agency environment, you’ll want to get your time-tracking technology squared away quickly.
But, what are some of the things you might want in a time tracking platform? Let’s have a look!
You want something that’s user-friendly for everyone on the team, and offers a mobile app, automated time tracking features, and easy-to-access reports and visual summaries of timesheet approvals and completion.
If it’s not easy, your team won’t accurately track their time.
Tracking time worked on projects is simple. What is much more interesting, is how employee time affects agency operations.
Beyond just having visibility into how long something took and the associated billable hours, it’s important to understand:
- Employee utilization by person, team, and client
- How actual costs stack up against estimates
- How costs are allocated across different activities or groups
There are dozens of reasons why agencies should track time, and while it might not be the most enjoyable part of running a business, it’s the most effective way to measure operations and accurately bill clients.
Employee Resource Planning
Knowing the capacity of your workforce is at the core of managing your projects and starting new ones.
Imagine how much more effective your agency could be if you had real-time visibility into employee capacity? Managing employee capacity is key to keeping costs down and knowing when to hire new team members.
That’s what resource planning software is designed to help you do.
While the specific features vary across platforms, the goal is the same: to streamline the management of your people and their hours. And the larger your agency becomes, the more important it is to properly understand and schedule future employee time.
How many expenses does your team submit each month? How much time does it take to enter the data, collect the receipts, submit them to Accounting or HR, and then reimburse employees?
If these questions are making you feel uncomfortable, it’s probably time to move to a more modern expense management system. There are literally hundreds of different expense management software that can save your organization time and money, and reduce confusion around who can expense and approve various gifts, drinks, meals, mileage, etc.
Customer relationship management is critical to running a successful agency.
As your business grows, you’ll need a system that will organize and manage the relationships with existing and past customers, as well as your prospects and leads.
CRMs are great for:
- Storing and maintaining accurate customer information
- Managing customer communications
- Understanding and measuring customer engagement
- Tracking billing and other payment history
- Improving customer communications for your sales and customer success teams
Unsurprisingly, there’s a wealth of great information about customer relationship management on the Salesforce website. 🙂
Also, to add on to the third point, it may also be a good idea to automate your social media for optimal engagement.
Every agency needs to manage projects, and there are a number of simple project management tools that can significantly increase your employee’s ability to get work done quickly.
Hubspot has a great overview of project management software that we recommend you check out!
Some of the more popular apps include:
- Office 365
Finding the right project management software for your business is not an easy task, but much like time tracking, it’s an essential part of running an agency.
How do you communicate to your team throughout the day? In-person? Phone? Text?
At ClickTime, we’re huge fans of Slack, which makes it easy to chat with anyone in your organization. Slack allows you to create specific topics or channels, which help guide discussions, and makes it easy to build simple integrations with your CRM, time tracking, expense management, and other software.
Slack is a great way to communicate with both your onsite and remote employees. We couldn’t give it a stronger recommendation!
This post originally appeared on ClickTime.