How many times over the past few years have we heard that ‘the advertising industry needs to change’, that ‘the advertising industry isn’t changing quickly enough’ and that ‘the advertising industry will soon be usurped by an in-house creative team, consultants, automation or AI’?
For businesses that rely on execution revenue streams, these threats are all growing and all real.
There is a huge array of agency management software that promise to streamline your work, make your business thrive and increase your revenue. But how do you implement these systems? How do you bring something new to your team, and actually make a difference in the work you do?
Taken from a presentation by our very own Helen Johnson, we will demonstrate the most effective methods used to implement new software and actually create radical change in your agency.
Why do we need change?
In the last year we witnessed the following statistics:
- Only 31% of agency projects deliver on time
- 72% of brands believe that agency structures, processes and pace must change
- 63% of agencies cite scope management as their biggest profit impact
- Less than 20% of agencies rely on retainers
From these stats we can see that agencies face many challenges, that are a combination of compounding forces.
The main challenges we see and hear agencies talk about are:
- Speed – we need to work quicker than ever before.
- Value – making an impact on the client’s bottom line is becoming more and more difficult, and so procurement push cost. Hard.
- Price – we still struggle with pricing models. When it comes to pricing, the value proposition is a brilliant sales tool. With people cited as an agencies most expensive cost, the biggest profit driver is making the time we spend on delivering work more efficient.
- Complexity – in a constantly changing world the sheer complexity of the work is growing. This complexity is not simply down to the sheer volume of businesses and models operating in the space. Many agencies find themselves stretching to constantly be winning new business. This creates an unease over where genuine strengths lie, whilst management struggle to balance new and regular business.
- Information – agencies find it difficult to find meaning in the business information available, that will help with actionable change.
How can new management software help agencies?
So, how exactly can new management software help agencies with these growing issues? By offering solutions to the these problems currently seen within agencies.
Solution: Management software can consolidate many processes into a single platform, which allows room to deliver work quickly.
Solution: Management software makes it easy to keep an eye on and manage your expenses easily, tracking who and how many hours are being spent on any individual project .
Solution: With management software, agencies can easily look at the important marriage between the scope of the work, the client budget and the people that are assigned.
Solution: Management software can help agencies balance and manage new and regular business, with real time reporting on scope creep and overrun projections, giving you the foresight to spot potential problems before they affect your bottom line.
Solution: A good management software system will have easy to run reports that you can use to monitor your agency – from client profitability to staff performance.
Software change or organizational change?
In every agency we have worked with on software implementation, there is always a wider appetite for change. It is not just a simple case of swapping out software. This means there is a need to look at organizational change beyond the platform.
Whilst the right technology can be an instrumental factor in transformation, it is people who drive it. Implementing processes that deal with the issues discussed above often means that businesses are looking to change the way they deliver work beyond the functions they use to deliver it. When we look at software enabled change programs, a change in process is always required to produce meaningful, lasting results.
So, how do you implement organizational change alongside your software implementation?
What are your goals?
Change absolutely needs to be linked to goals. What is the end-game of this systemic change, what are you trying to achieve?
Change must be led, but also enabled
You will need to have a strong support network within the organization, as change behaviours or environments can evoke a strong emotional reaction.
Change is an evolution
Remember change is a process in itself. There may be setbacks on the way, but as long as you keep communication channels open, and consistently refer back to your goals, you can refine this change management process as needed.
Where to start?
We have seen all levels of success in agency change programs. Here are some of the key ingredients in successful implementations and change programs.
Start with the three P’s: people, process and platform.
People are the heart and soul of any agency and motivating your team to champion this change will be one of the most valuable things you do in the process.
Have the right people in place, those who will be your change agents.
These change agents will be the individuals that are pioneering this change within your organization. These are people who will be a support system of stakeholders and influencers. People who are credible, experts in their fields, with the right balance of pragmatism, optimism and urgency to lead from the front and the back.
As mentioned previously, change evokes an emotional rather than intellectual response. It can be difficult learning a new system, despite outlining the important goals of the process and you may still come up against resistance.
It is important to build the correct motivational structure to maintain momentum. Using consistent communication cycles will help with this. You need to help people understand what was and what will be, establishing all the benefits of the future vs now.
We know how it is: there are so many features, it can be overwhelming. It’s difficult for your objective not to be – implement EVERY feature and solve every single business problem with this shiny new system. In truth, this may even be the end result. But for that to ever be the case then the objectives will need to be clearer.
There are 3 main types of objectives when implementing a tool:
These should be black and white and will usually relate to the key modules you will end up using. For example: “we want to implement estimating, time-lining, resource planning and forecasting through the system.” Or “we need it to hold a record of all of our jobs, estimates, third party costs, billing and revenue recognition.” There may also be secondary objectives: “If we can find a way to replace our standalone collaboration tool this would be useful.” Make sure you have your priorities in order with your objectives – because change management is no small feat.
These are linked to the transformation and business benefits you hope to see through the implementation of the tool. These can help you to plan and track a return on investment. So, attach some metrics, and measure against these to make sure you succeed.
This often ties in to either a strategic objective or a detailed functional objective, but on occasion they can be standalone. For example: “we need to bill overtime for weekend work with one of our clients and require a more efficient way of measuring it”.
OptimiZing your process
There are three basic fundamentals of process mapping: why, what and how. In order to optimize your process mapping you will need to instigate measures to look at why, what and how you can implement your system change. You can use traditional methods to do this like six sigma or DMAIC (define, measure, analyse, improve and control), but they all amount to the same three principles.
Many processes will need to continuously change, an evolution, not just a transformation. This means that not only does making the right decision count, but also identifying and changing quickly when they become the wrong ones. You want to ensure that you create a culture of change through clear and authentic communications.
The platform you choose will act as a vehicle. You will need to fully understand all of the benefits of whichever system you choose. For example: some systems offer tailored benefits like custom translations or adjustable approval flows, which can offer endless flexibility for the simple and scalable or the compliant and complex.
Getting to grips with a new system can be confusing and difficult. In order to make your team feel secure you should make sure they have everything they need to get the most out of your new system. Resources like the system’s help site, video resources or custom made guides will be invaluable assets for your team. Put in a plan for ongoing training of new staff, which you could open up for anyone who might want a refresh of the information.
There are several essential reports in any system that you can use to monitor and drive performance. From job profitability, weekly time-sheet checks, 12 month forecasting and a whole host of other options.
Starting with your goals, figure out which reports you need to use to monitor and drive performance. Use these from day one to ensure maximum success.
Bringing it all together
In short, the success of your system change programme will rest on having the right people, finding the right way of working and designing your platform to fit your agency process.
TANGRAM are experts in this process. We can review and assess your agency, looking at maximising your strengths and redesign and reshape areas that need improvement.
We create smart tailored systems and then refine them with you and offer our enduring support throughout the process and beyond.