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The environment in which today’s agencies work is complex. It’s dynamically transforming and evolving fast.
We work in a highly fragmented market where customers and clients are demanding and becoming increasingly more sophisticated. Revenue streams are gradually reducing – whilst the range of channels available is wider than ever. Evolving regulations, and increasing internal costs, mean that agencies are constantly required to get more, from less.
When the external business environment is so complicated, and so full of ambiguity, it’s all the more important that agencies’ own working practices are simple, and easy for employees to navigate.
Agency systems must maximize productive, billable time, both to protect the profitability of the operation – but also to stop talented employees drowning under a weight of unnecessary paperwork. An agency without a robust system will constantly struggle to deliver optimal results. And in today’s competitive market, that can be catastrophic.
David Breytenbach, of Ogilvy South Africa, recently spoke during a webinar, about the importance of agency systems. He described the journey taken by Ogilvy SA, to ensure that employees were able to focus on their day jobs, rather than being frustrated by systems and processes which were overly complex.
The challenges faced by the Ogilvy SA team are not unique. As agencies diversify, different business units find themselves needing different applications to support their work. However, projects naturally pull in internal talent from a wide range of different teams, to collaborate on one single goal, inevitably leading to problems:
“We literally had occasions in the past where a person had a role in two business units and would have to quote themselves from one unit and then provide a purchase order from the other – and that would continue until the end of the job. You can imagine how soul destroying this was when the volume of jobs was high.”
Bad systems kill morale
Breytenbach touches on a crucial point. Having a bad system doesn’t only cost agencies money in lost billable time. It destroys morale. And in an inherently creative team, this can be far more costly. Recognizing and addressing the issues which are distracting employees is crucial.
Breytenbach continues, with the insight that allowed Ogilvy SA to build a system that works:
“We’re running a people-centric business. We need the tools that enable us to sell, schedule, manage, record activity and measure people all together in a system. We need to be able to capture a piece of information once and use it as needed across a multitude of tools within a cohesive system. We need a large set of people to be able to use that information on one platform in a variety of ways.”
As agencies move to be more and more project based, teams will form and disband fluidly. Groups of employees will work together from different business units, often in different geographic locations. A sort of pick-up game, rather than a formal, rigid delineation of team identity. As the way we work evolves, so must our systems.
Highly efficient systems drive growth
And the benefits don’t stop there. A good system generates valuable data, allowing management to make data-driven decisions about their business. By integrating project, people, and finance data, a robust system will paint a detailed picture of the business. Inputting financial information, quotes, purchase orders, and invoices, for example, in a secure way, and giving the team the means to analyze and query these data sets, allows for astonishing insights that can help a business grow.
Leaders can see what projects are the most profitable, which are proving less successful, where resources are tight, and where teams are being stretched – both in the present moment, and taking into account future pipelined projects.
Good systems lead to better decisions
So what’s the end result of a good agency system, designed to meet your specific needs? Leaders have the organizational overview and granular data, to be able to make effective business decisions. At the same time, operational teams, from creative to account and project management, have the access to information they need, without being bogged down in menial, repetitive, or frustrating administrative tasks. And together, that’s a winning combination.
Looking to maximize your productivity, and give employee morale a bump? Invest in an effective agency system.