How to Improve your Agency’s Processes

agency processes

What are we talking about in this article?

Having processes at your creative agency sounds simple enough. Don’t you employ them every day? After all, when it comes down to it, everything you do can be defined as a process.

That’s not untrue. However, there’s a difference between simply establishing business processes and creating intentional processes. The latter, as you might guess, will almost certainly streamline your practices and ultimately deliver superior results.

Project Management

How to develop agency processes

Analyze.

First, any marketing agency must take stock of its existing processes, procedures, responsibilities, and tasks. This will allow team members and stakeholders to better understand how their organization functions. It’s important to collect information and gain insight into what you do and how you do it. That way, you will be able to assess what’s working and what needs improvement.

You should also establish tools and procedures for tracking the performance of your processes and strategies, including key performance indicators (KPIs), metrics that will be used to evaluate your projects and campaigns, and more.

Set goals.

Goals are important for ensuring that your processes and objectives have structure. In addition to establishing bigger-picture goals that concern factors like deliverables and meeting the needs of clients, you should also create benchmarks and milestones, which will be used to evaluate the progress you’re making along the way.

Goals, in many ways, dictate a path toward successful outcomes. Many agencies and other organizations employ the SMART method for defining and honing their goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable or Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

This framework applies to agency and clients’ goals alike. It’s a useful tool to ensure that your objectives are workable and process-oriented.

Standardize your efforts.

All marketing and advertising agency processes, no matter what their flavor, must be standardized. That, of course, doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t be adjusted as needed to fit the unique situation — they absolutely should — but you will need to establish templates and workflows that can be applied to practically any situation your organization may encounter.

This goes for everything, from the project management software you choose to the means of tracking hours for clients and employees. There should be a clear methodology your employees can implement and follow. By establishing a clear system, you will eliminate much of the confusion that can occur within a creative agency and in your communications with clients and stakeholders.

Document everything.

Best practices across fields, industries, and occupations dictate that you should always document your efforts. This is true of every process you implement as well.

In the planning phase? Document your goals and the strategic steps you will take to achieve them. Explore the context, the barriers to success, and the strides you will make to mitigate any problems you may encounter along the way. Define parameters, the intricacies of the processes, and KPIs and measurement tools. Describe the inputs and outputs.

Of course, it’s important to document the procedures you undertake along the way in order to reach those goals. And finally, don’t forget to write down the outcomes.

This will help you hone your processes so you can use and reuse them again and again, as well as improve upon them.

Automate.

Automation is an essential tool for improving and leveraging your processes. Marketing agencies can use a variety of systems and project management software to make their processes and procedures more efficient. Many tools for automation are customizable, so you can alter them according to how your agency works.

Plus, automation tools will give you plenty of data that you will be able to comb and use in order to see how your various processes have panned out and how workflows can be better honed and defined, according to your particular needs.

Establish responsibilities.

Any print or digital agency needs a structured workforce, whether your team is working face-to-face or remotely. Who does what? What are the various roles and responsibilities?

Some roles will vary according to the project in question, while others persist in the longer term. Individuals probably already have titles — creative director, project manager, copywriter, marketing manager, and so on — but the particular responsibilities may vary from one initiative to another.

As part of defining the structure of your workflows, it is important to define roles for your whole team upfront, as soon as your begin planning and mapping out a new project. This will reduce confusion and make your project progress much more smoothly than it might otherwise.

Review workflows.

Once you have established core processes at your organization, it is important to review — and keep reviewing — the procedures you’ve set up. What worked once won’t necessarily work forever, after all, so you will need to ensure that your procedures remain relevant and necessary. Pay attention to any duplicate or redundant efforts so that you are maximizing efficiency, too.

Centralize communication.

Where does your communication take place? Chances are, you have many channels, such as Slack, email, videoconferencing, text, and so on. But it’s important to centralize communication, such that each team member is consistently using the same platforms as their colleagues.

That doesn’t mean you won’t need to have multiple channels — because you’re completing different tasks and carrying out a variety of projects, you are bound to need to communicate in a range of ways. But it’s important to make sure everyone knows when and how to use each platform and that communication is consistent.

Delegate.

There are several consequences when one leader attempts to do it all: micromanagement, frustration, overextension, and burnout, to name just a few. Delegating is the way to prevent these negative outcomes.

Remember: Every team member should know their roles within a project and within the larger organization. While the project manager is probably the one assigning tasks and deadlines, as well as ensuring cohesion across the initiative and agency, they shouldn’t try to actually do everything. That’s why you have a full team, after all!

Prioritize.

It may seem intuitive that not everything is equally important, but all too often, creative agencies try to do too many things at the same time. This leads to stress on people and resources and makes your agency less productive, not more. Rather than overextending your team, focus on a few core initiatives and projects at one time.

Moreover, you may be attempting to do it all in a more global sense. Perhaps your agency is trying to be the best at everything. A better approach is to have one or two niches that you do especially well, especially when you’re in the startup phase or are a small agency. That way, you can be the best at those one or two things — a goal that is much more feasible to achieve.

Time tracking & estimation

Benefits of having processes in your agency

1. You will improve efficiency.

Are any of your procedures inefficient? Chances are, the answer is yes, whether you’re considering your onboarding process, your delivery cycle, or your project management strategy.

When you create and improve your processes, adding more structure, defining roles, and ensuring that they are the best they possibly can be, you and your team members will operate more efficiently and quickly, producing at speed and at scale.

2. You’ll improve collaboration.

Collaboration is foundational to your success as an agency. By structuring and strengthening your processes, you are, in essence, solidifying connections between and among team members. Rather than creating a culture of competition, you are, in contrast, encouraging individuals to work together to achieve strong results, communicating with one another productively.

3. You’ll leverage team members’ strengths.

When everyone understands their unique role and responsibility in the big picture and how they contribute to the overall organization, you, as a leader, are more equipped to capitalize on their strengths. From the account manager to the freelancer, each and every individual is leveraging their skills and competencies to produce the best results and deliver exceptional work. Furthermore, people are doing what they truly want to do, which, in turn, means a stronger, more engaged agency and staff.

4. You’ll create a culture of continuous improvement.

The work is never truly over. You should constantly be striving to improve your projects and improve your overall agency. Remaining stagnant means that you’re failing to progress and grow.

By honing and reassessing your processes, you’re creating and strengthening a culture of continuous improvement, recognizing that you should never settle for “good enough.”

5. You will produce better services.

Whether you’re engaging in content marketing, creating webinars and podcasts, crafting social media posts, or solidifying an SEO strategy, when you have well-established and well-honed processes in place, you will inevitably produce better services. That, in turn, will please and meet the needs of your clients, which is the very purpose of your agency.

Project Profitability

How can implementing structured processes make your agency more profitable?

Are you leading or playing a key role in a growing agency? As you attain new clients, it’s important to ensure you have structured processes that will allow you to scale your efforts while keeping insight and control over the work your organization puts forth. This, above all else, will enable you and your team members to cultivate and nurture long-lasting client relationships and keep your agency thriving — ultimately making it more profitable in both the short and long term.

If you want to become a more resilient, self-sufficient agency, that starts with carefully defined and well-honed processes. The infrastructure you layout today will enable you to thrive and persist well into the future, keeping every team member, client, agency owner, and other stakeholders aligned, organized, and in the know.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

Schedule a Demo

For a personalized experience, tell us more about you and your agency

Stay Tuned with our Newsletter