Businesses in every industry have to cope with increased competition, and none more so than those involved in creative services. Digital workflows have seen creative agencies become part of a global market, where for many clients, location is irrelevant. There is constant downward pressure on budgets in tandem with that, causing further challenges for maintaining profitability.
Combatting this means increasing efficiency, and one of the key ways a creative agency can accomplish this is through effective automation. That automation also brings significant operational benefits that help any agency maximize the talent within a team, producing more cohesive, high-quality results that better fit client expectations through the collaborative process such automation enable. You can automate your agency too, and here we will show you how, and importantly, why you should.
What does it mean to automate an agency’s workflow?
Automating processes means having certain actions triggered by events or specific timings without any further input. Think of a simple process, such as project creation. Without automation, your project manager or another team member will have to manually enter the project, adding in each task as they go. Those recurring projects for regular clients can end up taking a lot of hours over a year.
By contrast, in an automated process, that project and its tasks are known. They can be created automatically each time it’s needed, with all tasks involved created too, including personnel they should be assigned to based on current work schedules. This is all achieved without further input, speeding up the onboarding of the new project itinerary and streamlining the flow of project management. It’s more efficient, more accurate, and improves response time, which increases client confidence in your agency.
Project creation is one of the simpler uses of automation but still offers significant benefits. In other areas such as project management, automated task assignment suggestions and scheduling can save hours per day, cut overheads, and free up valuable employees for more productive tasks. In this way, automation benefits almost every aspect of the business while also empowering your team, reducing the repetitive tasks that can lower morale, and allowing talent to reach its potential.
The use of standard template solutions for reporting, for example, also helps streamline the business and aids in integrating systems, making internal processes more efficient. For onboarding new staff or ensuring that the new client experience is consistent and effective, automation can set a benchmark that is met every time, a roadmap for any process you need.
Why is automating agency processes so important?
In the introduction to this article, we discussed the pressures on agencies today to increase efficiency to retain profitability. That is an increasingly important reason why automation is crucial for any agency, but it is not the only one. Another important trait of automated workflows is to introduce predictability. The task is repeated to the exact same level every time, meaning that when customers face tasks such as billing inquiries, they receive a predictable service that maintains the professional image you wish to project.
For other areas, such as reports or time tracking, it also means that the same standard is maintained for comparability. In this way, automation tools can help maintain overall standards for everything from productivity to client satisfaction, improving performance, minimizing waste, and aiding cost control.
The use of project templates is another advantage, offering not just a clearer view of project progression but allowing for a rapid, automated task population, including assignment suggestions based on your team’s current schedules.
What type of actions can be automated in an agency?
Automation then provides a predictable approach to a task and improved efficiency and more, all aiding the agency in terms of competitiveness without harming profitability. The key is to know the areas of an agency that can be reliably automated. Such systems are not viable in every aspect of the operational process, but there are several areas where they can be incredibly effective.
– Project and Task Creation
There have been several simple tools for project management for years; you’ve probably even used a few, such as Trello. However, they cannot automate certain aspects of the project management process. This includes the more complex activities such as project creation and task creation to populate those projects. This can save any project manager a lot of time, allowing them to focus on deliverables and day-to-day schedule maintenance rather than the business process’s mechanics.
– Resource Management
Your agency lives and breathes because of its talent, and effective management of those resources is essential to success. Ensuring that you maximize your team’s productivity while allowing them to thrive and fulfill their potential with suitable tasks is a complex challenge. For project managers and other leaders, this can involve hours of analysis and constant oversight.
However, with automation, we can simplify the resource management process and improve its efficiency simultaneously. Automated project creation, including the population of each project template with tasks, is integrated with other automation solutions to allow for suggested task assignment. This is based on current work schedules and other data for fast, effective job task assignment, and with time tracking part of the process, gives leadership a much more detailed insight into resource use at any time. Automated reports give real-time updates and a broad overview of resource usage, giving accurate data for future planning.
– Time Tracking
Time tracking allows you to identify productivity issues and provides detailed data that allows both leaders and individuals to spot issues and take appropriate measures to improve performance. Automated task assignment and activity recording save time while retaining the insight and understanding that time tracking provides.
Automation is also a powerful tool in applying time tracking solutions effectively. While the benefits of time tracking are clear, one of the biggest challenges is adoption by your team. Constantly having to input hours and activities can be frustrating for employees, who often feel like they are wasting time, being unproductive.
Here automation helps too, with auto-loading hours reducing the input from employees, allowing them to carry out their tasks as usual, with the system working in the background.
This way, you get the benefits of time tracking and eliminate human error, making it more accurate and less intrusive into your employee’s day. With full reporting generated daily, weekly, monthly, or any other period, automation of the time tracking process also delivers superb metrics for use in other automated processes such as project management and invoicing solutions.
– Reporting & Business Intelligence
Reporting and business intelligence is probably the most essential part of automation within agencies. It is crucial in understanding business performance, providing a snapshot of the current performance. As a result, automated report creation is probably the most important aspect of automation for agencies. It can provide reliable, real-time data without requiring each report individually, but it is through the analysis that automation has an effect. Detailed analysis of data and trends over time can provide exceptionally accurate forecasts for leadership, allowing them to spot new opportunities, avoid threats and maximize business performance today and into the future.
Automation offers fast, accurate analysis and can generate projections and other insights as required, saving time and money in the process without compromising intelligence accuracy. This is very resourceful in better budgeting for new clients. In turn, with the more detailed insight and lower costs, agencies can improve budgeting analysis for new clients, making offers more attractive and helping to maintain market competitiveness.
What is the cost of not automating processes within an agency?
A failure to automate these processes means having to do everything by hand, which means higher overheads through additional employee time assigned to every task. Besides, it also opens the door to human error, itself adding additional costs too.
By avoiding automation, you have higher costs, which means accepting lowered profitability or higher pricing than the competition that leverages automation. Additionally, with automation comes reliability and predictability. This is especially useful when a client encounters situations, such as reporting, where there is the consistency that improves the overall experience and reinforces the professionalism at the heart of your agency.
Can you automate everything an agency needs from a single tool?
There is a range of tools available to help automate individual elements of your agency activities. However, there is an option to do everything in one package. COR can take care of all project management, resource management, time tracking and reporting, along with comprehensive business intelligence solutions.
COR is management solution that covers all automation needs for any agency using industry-standard templates that allow you to customize any operation to suit your needs.
With everything accessible from a single interface, it uses collated data from a number of your agency activities to increase accuracy and deliver exceptional performance. Sharing one interface reduces the learning process, gives fast, effective access to automation across various business activities, and allows your agency to maintain profitability through increased efficiency and competitiveness.