These days, everything is about speed and productivity. You need to be able to deliver fast results but at the same time, you need to deliver quality services and products. Times, technology and consumer habits are changing fast. Nobody has the patience to wait for anything anymore and the attention span of the average human being is lower than ever.
For a design agency, this means that you need to adapt to your customers’ needs and also, to the constant changes within the targeted audience. You can boost productivity by working faster and through a deep understanding of how to better organize your work so that you will be able to deliver the best possible results with the least resources.
The main types of resources:
Yes, everything is resource related. Your productivity depends on how you manage them and the good habits you develop over time that will help you do it successfully. In order to understand the concept, let’s discuss first the main types of resources you need in your design agency and why each of them is important.
It’s obvious that the most important resource you have are the people who make everything happen. Starting with the unskilled help and up to the high management positions, everyone is important and everyone contributes to the productivity of the company.
Time is of the essence when you work in the services sector. Your productivity depends on how you manage time and how efficiently you get to organize it, delegate tasks and prioritize them.
You get paid for services but you also need a budget in order to pay for all the other resources that you need during the creative process. Therefore, it’s important to also manage finances efficiently and prioritize expenditures according to the company’s needs.
This resource is strongly related to the human resource. You cannot manage or organize creativity but you can stimulate it and reward it accordingly.
Now, based on these four resources, let’s try and find out the best habits that will allow you to perform better and find the balance between costs and income.
How can you boost a design agency’s productivity?
Let’s start by admitting that there are numerous ways you can improve your management and boost productivity. For this article, however, I chose the most important five of them.
1. Get a CRM
What is a CRM?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It is a system that allows you to manage effectively all business relationships and the data associated with them. Everything related to customers, contact information, sales, accounts, leads and market prospects can be stored and managed from just one place, a central location, with a CRM system.
Usually, all these data are stored in a cloud and as a consequence, made accessible almost instantly when needed. If you want to check this option out, Hubspot offers a free CRM subscription to small business.
Why use a CRM?
Well, if you want to boost productivity, the first thing you need is a good client and market management. You need to keep all the information organized and at hand so that you will be able to save precious time and precious human resources easier and more effective than ever. You will save money as well, by automating this organizational process.
As you can see, a CRM allows you to save on three of the four main resources I have listed in the previous chapter. And, this is the main reason I have started with this suggestion. It can really make a difference.
Now, let’s move on to some tasks that are more specific to a design agency and take a quick look at what else you can do in order to boost your productivity:
2. Get informed
Getting to know your clients is a vital step when you are doing any type of job, not only creative work. Therefore, make sure you have a reliable process for gathering valuable information in place, before starting to work for your clients.
What does this mean and why is it important?
Well, whether you were asked to design a simple banner or a whole marketing campaign, you need to know who are your clients, who are their targeted customers, to what audience you are addressing your designs etc.
The data you gather through this process is important because it will help you organize your work better and delegate tasks more efficiently. Considering you know the strengths and weaknesses of each of your team members and the clients’ demands in detail, you will be able to assign tasks according to skills and competencies and thus, save not only time and money but also stimulate creativity.
TIP: If you want to do this even more efficiently, create a standardized template with questions and key ideas that will guide your team through the entire process.
There are several levels your productivity depends on. And, each assignment, task or campaign, engages several members of the team who work together or side by side to complete them in due time. As the manager, team leader or member of a design agency, you probably know already that the actual design comes last.
The sales team comes first, at the first level. They are responsible for landing the clients but also with the information gathering process. Then, the creative team comes in, at the second level. Their job is the take over the data provided by the first team and do the actual designs projects. Then, it’s up to the revision team to review the campaign and give it a green light or, if it is the case, to recommend adjustments, error corrections etc.
You can manage the flow of information between these levels and among members of the teams with a project management tool.
There are several choices in this area and many tools you can choose to work with, depending on your work style and daily processes.
Recommended top project management tools:
Teamweek is one of the best choices when it comes to project management tools. It can be used across multiple departments and as a consequence, it makes a great choice for a design agency where communications between different teams are essential. Teamweek allows you to assign projects to specific teams, pass them to another team (reassign) if necessary etc. It also gives you full access to the entire history of the project.
Another great management tool, Trello, is effective when you work with teams, especially if not all members are located in the same premises. In other words, it allows you to communicate easier with remotely located freelancers, contributors or clients. You can integrate Trello into a Gmail account or, you can use it as a standalone app. The app is available for all major operating system, desktop or mobile based.
Wrike is also a great choice when it comes to project management. In fact, I would recommend it, especially for content management projects because it allows you to easily create project workflows between all members of the teams working on it.
Every project gets to be done more quickly and more efficiently when everybody knows what they have to do, what are their roles and how to communicate with each other.
For maximum efficiency, project managers or coordinators need to set deadlines, assign tasks and track the progress of each campaign or project individually.
TIP: Take into account that people need breaks in order to be able to perform at maximum capacity. Also, tasks need to be delegated according to every designer’s skills.
This is also an important step in your productivity boosting process. Learn how to prioritize better and differentiate between urgent tasks and important tasks that can be delayed. Assign jobs according to priorities and choose deadlines based on actual relevant data.
If you need help, try using a time tracking tool such as “Tracking Time”, “Timely” or “Harvest”. They are both effective and useful and they can help you save precious resources while optimizing and boosting productivity.
TIP: You can combine a time tracking tool with a project management tool for better results.
There are many professional, capable and efficient design agencies out there. They are all aiming at a small piece of the same pie. The competition is fierce and if you want to succeed, you need to work constantly on developing new and better strategies to boost productivity and stay on top.
If you are looking for valuable advice on how to get better at what you are doing, I advise you to start with the above five steps: Get a CRM, get as much info as possible from your clients, organize your tasks and learn how to delegate and prioritize them better. If you commit to including all these steps in your management strategy, I am sure that you will rise above the competition.
What do you think about these five pieces of advice? What other important habits would you include in a design agency strategy that wants to boost its productivity?