We met with Julian Nuñez, Chief Creative Officer, and Roberto Romero, Director of Operations, from DDB El Taier to discuss the importance of processes, effective communication, and transparency with the client. The agency felt that it was time to organize their schemes and demonstrate with data the premium service they provide. The advertising and marketing industry has a reputation for being messy, with creatives working late into the night, and shortening delivery times. For DDB El Taier this reputation needed to be changed. Its development process has been accompanied by COR, a management solution that allows agencies to understand internal work processes and provide clarity to those seeking a better structure.
Once you understand where the rework data is coming from, where the installed capacity is, how hard the talent is working, and the estimated profitability, you gain valuable insights, valuable enough to communicate to the client.
“We have won 9 out of 10 pitches delivered” said Julian, explaining that they demonstrate a structure when presenting projects.
A clear and transparent structure that allows them to explain how the whole process will be, including the work prior to the pitch: How much time has been invested, how much work the pitch has represented in real time. This allows you to make estimates when negotiating the fee with the client. Having the necessary information leaves you standing in a different way, and permits to have a broad internal structure that gives great strength to the team, reflecting this security towards your clients.
It is not always easy to reach an agreement with the client, but having the data on how much the project is costing is a business tool, and if it is impossible to renegotiate a fee, it allows you to open other ways to maintain profitability. Like modifying teams, using talent with a different seniority, relocating teams according to profitability, channeling the idea within the resources available, are just some of the possible interventions when you can see the whole picture. In this way, it is not necessary to finish a project to be able to see the profit it will represent for the agency.
Open doors policy
Two years ago, at DDB El Taier, they implemented greater transparency, both within the company and with the client. This means that they have allowed brands access inside COR. Inviting the client to witness the process in which their project will take shape can inspire some trepidation, as it allows the client to participate and observe what happens behind the scenes.
The agency has great confidence in its method and the quality of the work of its teams, since only a company that maintains a disciplined order in its processes and trusts in its talent could give way to a new type of bond with its client. COR grants visibility to overtime, generates a sense of empathy and collaboration, and guarantees the excellence of the work delivered.
For DDB El Taier including this new format of communication with its clients has been a very positive experience. A big problem in the industry is uncertainty, doubt, and in the face of a brand’s hesitation, expanding the channels of dialogue helps to mitigate this feeling. With this software function: the agency maintains discipline in project management, allows for support in its work, and strengthens the security of the brands in the business.
This transparency has already become part of the initial pitch, explaining the horizons that this functionality of the software allows. It enriches the bond with the client, between the creatives and the marketing team, it empowers teamwork, as Julian says:
“More than opening the kitchen´s door, we are inviting them to cook with us”.
It allows the client to better manage their teams, within the urgencies that may arise on their part, it initiates a dialogue on priorities in a cross-cutting manner, moving from a waterfall process to a stronger construction. Customer requests that are not aligned with their superiors, or tasks that are not part of the contract, are reduced. Giving way for the relevant deliverables to be processed, and increasing their quality. Such is the importance of visibility and transparency, the agencies that implement it have an advantage in their management and work methodology with each client.
Communication, at the heart of Culture
Effective communication is a necessity for every business. With efficient communication, complaints or claims go from being a problem to an opportunity to improve the workflow. Since they are reinforced in the software, it is the only tool needed for the entire process. Freelancers and employees may be apprehensive when they hear “Time tracking” as a function of the management software. But COR is not a tool to control how many hours employees work, but a way to be able to evaluate the quality of the processes and to account for the workflow inside the agency’s gears.
For the talent it means the possibility of having a record of what has been done, it is having the peace of mind that the work that goes into their tasks is backed up, and is not lost in a deliverable attached in an email. In conjunction with dynamic Gantt charts and calendars that show the availability of each team member, COR ensures that each employee works the relevant hours, and in case of overtime, these hours are accounted for. This avoids burn out, a major problem in the industry. The graphic format of calendars and Gantt charts is a plus when it comes to finding order within an agency’s timelines, as Roberto comments:
“We creatives are very visual and that’s why the Gantt has become a key element.”
Centralizing communication, between collaborators and clients, has opened up new possibilities for dialogue, to go beyond ideas, beyond digital marketing. It allows to talk about the real impact that an agency has for the value of a brand, an executive link where the value of the services provided is enhanced.
For an agency, reworks are a great waste of resources: delaying deadlines, mounting work hours, of effort, and talent fatigue, which translates into a loss of profitability for the business. Where does the need to redo a task or to re-direct a project that is almost finished comes from? The cause of the problem will depend on the agency itself, it may lie in a misunderstanding at the time of performing the client’s vision, in a mistake by the team, or by an indecisive client who modifies his order, due to internal or environmental causes. Many times, the problem is multi-causal and prevalent, regardless of the contract that frames the project to be carried out.
The biggest challenge is to try to generate awareness of the real dimension of the work, to demonstrate that in order to keep the delivery-times the team is going out of the contractual arrangement that was stated, and all of this for the same fee. These acknowledgments concede that an improvement in the quality of deliverables lies in having a planned and safe workflow for the creatives. “We have lowered the rework rate by 50% or more. Today we know how much is due to our own mistakes and how much is due to the client, before it was just a number,” explains Roberto. Having a clear idea of where this need for rework arises is the direct way to reduce it. It’s not always the team, and it’s not always the client, sometimes it’s the process.
In the agency’s calls and meetings, the phrase “Let the number tell the story, not the other way around” has come up. It is strange to introduce within the creative team a conversation about rework rates, installed capacity, percentage of profitability, unfulfilled deadlines. But understanding the measurements of the work performed has had a real effect on the last two years of the agency’s profitability, as Romero put it:
“We’ve seen how the graphs have been changing from red to green.”
It is the data that tells the story. The importance of studying the past is just as valid for a country as it is for an agency, to be able to learn from our mistakes, their causes, and not make the same ones moving forward. This is the importance of studying the history of the agency’s work, since this history is not made up of isolated events, but of processes. And where there is understanding and information, growth can occur.