5 Agency Problems You’re Having That Could Be Solved With A Simple Process
Do you feel like your agency is disorganized? Is there confusion among your team? Are you constantly going back and forth with your clients? Are you always thinking there has to be a better way?
If you answered any of those questions with a resounding “yes,” breathe a quick sigh of relief—because those problems can be solved. And you can likely solve them with some simple processes.
But before you say “I don’t have time to figure out processes” and click away from this page, let me just tell you:
You don’t have time to keep doing things the way you’re doing them now.
To some degree, the ability to fly by the seat of your pants is great—because that means you can adapt if you need to. But you can’t do everything on the fly. Without processes, you won’t be able to grow your company like you want to, your team will go crazy, and your clients won’t fully respect the work you’re doing for them because you won’t be able to mask your disorganization for long. The list of side effects goes on and on.
Start getting more organized and efficient with the following fixes to some common agency problems.
Problem #1: Projects get started but never seem to get finished on time.
Do you find yourself in this scenario repeatedly? Maybe once you start a client project, you just can’t get it past a certain point… then you find yourself scramble at the end, trying to make up for lost time.
Many projects can’t be completed without the help of a team, so it’s easy for the work to “fizzle out” somewhere along the line —after all, everyone on your team has a ton to do! But don’t be too quick to blame the team member that dropped the ball. There could be a bigger issue at play.
If you don’t have someone overseeing the project—and I don’t mean from a “management” perspective, I mean from an “in the weeds” perspective—projects will continue to die. The weight of getting a project completed should always rest on the shoulders of a single person. It can’t be “the whole team’s” responsibility.
This is a simple process to put in place—after closing the deal with a client, every project you take on should immediately be assigned to a “project manager.” And, as I said, it can’t be someone managing from afar. This person needs to be involved in every detail of the process for the duration.
Now, you may not have a person on your team whose sole job it is to do this (as an agency, you’ll eventually get there!), but you need to make sure someone can carve out time to devote to it, because it does take some effort.
It can’t just be “anyone.” This person needs a specific skill set to be able to do the job effectively: They need to be organized and detail-oriented, with the ability to map out the steps of a project from A to Z. Then they’ll need to take responsibility for every one of those tasks on the list—even the ones they cannot complete themselves.
For example, if a project is in the design phase, the project manager is still the person who is responsible for that task overall—they do everything they can to make sure it gets done. They collect all the information necessary, assign the task to the graphic designer, and see that it gets done right. If the designer doesn’t finish on time, the project manager is asking about it. If there’s a holdup and the creative director needs to step in, the project manager is making sure that happens. If the designer can’t fulfill his duties until he gets a certain typeface, the project manager makes sure he has the resources he needs. Think of the project manager as the person cracking the whip, making sure the project moves forward.
(This solution may actually solve a lot of the problems you’re having!)
Problem #2: Your team members are constantly confused or wasting time trying to get the information they need to complete a task.
Does anyone on your team feel like they just aren’t “in the know” enough to complete their part of a project? Many times, the people in the initial sales meetings or project kickoff meetings aren’t the ones actually doing the work. So that information needs to be passed along appropriately for everyone to be able to do their jobs effectively.
People on your team—writers, designers, and developers—are likely performing the same kinds of tasks over and over again. Therefore, they need the same (or at least similar) information every time they start working on something. A simple fix to this problem is to create a template of information that the person in that role needs for each type of task regularly assigned to them so the project manager (or anyone else passing along information) can find and provide those details from the get-go.
For example, we do a lot of custom web development for our clients, so every time our project managers send something to our developer, we include the following information:
This information is kept in our project management software in a task list template, so every time a “wire-up” task is assigned to our developer, the necessary information travels along with it.
We’ve also implemented other templates like this across the board. Another example is the information we provide our writers every time they write a client ebook:
They need these questions answered before they begin writing (no matter the client or the topic), so the project manager gathers this information and fills out this template every time they assign a “write ebook” task.
Both of these examples have increased our efficiency and allow us to fill our time with better things than the back-and-forth that would be caused if we didn’t provide the proper information when we first assigned the task.
Problem #3: You’re turning out sloppy work.
Do you often find yourself discovering errors on things you’ve already delivered to clients or published online? If so, you need to work an editing phase into your regular routine.
Find the person on your team who’s best at catching errors—both in written content and design. This person is likely going to be someone who pays close attention to detail. If you don’t have anyone like that on your team, find someone outside your organization to help! Editing doesn’t take a lot of time, so it’s a small expense worth investing in for the long run.
After you’ve found that person, make it known to your team that every written or designed piece must go to editing before it moves on to the next step in the process. At Nectafy, we have an editing step built-in after all initial content is written (before it goes to a client for review) as well as an editing step after a piece has been designed. You’d be surprised to what extent content can get chopped up throughout the design phase—it’s always a good idea to edit your final designed deliverable (even if the content has been edited before) prior to sending the final files to a client.
Problem #4: Making copy and design revisions is a nightmare.
Going back and forth with clients on revision after revision (after revision) can be frustrating for all parties involved. Every time you have to open a document to change something costs you time. It also can (and will) delay your delivery date.
To fix this problem, define your revision process and make everyone involved (both internal and external) aware of it. You’re kidding yourself if you think content won’t need revising for every single project you complete. That’s just the way it is! Defining a revision process can make the experience less stressful for everyone.
At Nectafy, we have a “two-round” revision process, and it’s part of every one of our client agreements:
Along with this detailed information about the purpose of each revision round, we also tell our clients that all written copy must be finalized before moving to design and all web design has to be finalized before moving to wire-up. It’s so much harder to make a copy change after the design phase than it is in a text-only document—it can be the difference between 20 seconds and a few minutes—per change! (Really… can you see how time like that adds up?)
Defining your revision process and letting your clients know what to expect establishes an understanding from the get-go, saves you time, and keeps your back-and-forth a little less painful.
Problem #5: You know your team could be doing more.
Do you feel like the team you have—though it may be small—could be outputting so much more? It’s simple: If you don’t have any processes in place, you’re wasting everyone’s valuable time.
Each process you implement translates directly into future time saved, which means, as you create processes, you’re freeing up each of your team members, bit by bit, to do more! So start taking the idea of creating processes for your business seriously. Take a look at this quick guide to kickstarting process creation and implementation at your inbound marketing agency to find five steps that can help you get started.
If you’d like to check out a few sample processes—ones you could actually start using at your agency right now—download these free client onboarding and off-boarding processes we created. They’ve proven to be a game-changer for us.
What problem does your agency have that you think may be solvable with a simple process? Add a comment below, and let’s discuss it!