We have written about “agility” in the agency sphere in the past. And with each new technological innovation, agility becomes ever more essential to daily workflow. Are you too wedded to software or process, and not fluid and agile enough to deliver the necessary quick response to today’s “I need it yesterday” clients? When do you say to clients, “Wait… we need additional time to ensure this is done right, not just fast”?
Schedules tend by definition to be linear. Today’s advertising and marketing business is anything but linear. In an era of technology-enabled, cross-communicating, instant turnaround design and production workflow, are the tools of the past still valid? Do we actually have time for the tools we have long recommended: critical path scheduling, the daily hit list, traffic management, etc.? How do we work internally to keep up with client and production demands? What does the new workflow look like in a time-challenged digital environment?
Here are five tips for a more agile agency workflow.
1. Bill by Project, Not Hours. Better estimating helps agencies achieve agile workflow systems. The less time people have to spend tracking hours spent, the more time they can give to expediting that rich-media display ad, or rolling out the feet-on-the-street guerrilla campaign. Create a project “history” notebook or spreadsheet you can refer to for estimating projects with similar specs to completed projects.
2. Develop Your Own Shortcuts. What works for one agency and its client roster may not work for another. Each agency needs to audit its workflow processes and identify areas where more linear processes may be adjusted to perform functions simultaneously, or to allow elimination of some steps altogether under defined circumstances.
3. Pre-define Rush Projects. Analyze the rush jobs you handle. Can you categorize them into levels of “rush-ness”? Assigning a degree of “rush” also helps keep chaos from ruling in the production department. Know what corners you can shave in a rolling stop, and where you need to stop and look both ways before proceeding.
4. Who Calls the Shots? When you are in crisis mode, who are your go-to decision makers who can authorize bypassing procedure in favor of speed—while assuring the agency does not sacrifice quality control and accuracy? Assign your most detail-oriented employees to watch the details even as their co-workers speed up the process.
5. It’s Your Job to Say “Slow Down.” Understand that speed is not everything. Will it be better or more effective if you take an extra day? Fight for that day. Your clients and the work will be better served.