Too many creative agencies struggle to deliver work on time, sadly.
However, it’s not the project’s complexity or outrageous client demands that prevent work from running smoothly. Although, I admit that these do generate some of the agency chaos.
Communication isn’t the culprit either. It can stand in the way, true. But the real problem lies in skipping a critical process. A one that shifts your focus from thinking of what needs to be done to also considering what stands in the way of you doing it.
Before I explain it further, however, let’s gain some perspective on the problem.
Why Workflow Management Poses So Many Challenges for Agencies
Consider a typical agency, and how the work happens for its employees. Tasks pile up. But as the list goes longer, some items get shifted elsewhere, to another person or a team perhaps. Other work gets pushed aside to make space for higher priority items, and the circle continues.
Then, there are meetings, calls, and many other factors taking creatives away from doing what they should.
The process is endless. As a result, the real work happens rarely. It’s no surprise that 82% of creatives spend as much as a quarter of their time managing projects, rather than actually working. 67% must dedicate another quarter for dealing with ad-hoc requests on top of their ongoing projects. Finally, 52% do not complete projects on time.
Shocking? Consider this, then. It is common for agencies to have only 20% of employees producing work that keeps the company alive.
That’s one for every five employees!
But What Stands in the Way?
Meetings and calls disrupt work like nothing else. Additional or new and unexpected project elements prevent staff from working on the tasks that matter too. Eleventh-hour edits and requests can turn the workload upside down.
But the problem is that you cannot avoid any of those issues. You have to meet with clients to discuss and plan the project. You have to deal with unexpected changes too; they will happen, nonetheless.
You can create a system to manage those, however, and reduce their negative effect on your agency.
The most common practice employed by agencies and creatives individually is a to-do list. I admit - It provides some visibility into what needs to be done. A well-organized to-do list might even give some clarity as to which tasks to do first, and what could be done later. It can provide some guidance as to when to do the work or when it’s due too.
But a to-do list doesn’t help with the most critical productivity element – Project delivery. Here’s what’s missing.
- The time required to complete the task. Traditional to-do lists rarely outline how long it will take for the task to take. Sure, you might have an idea about it when adding a task to the list. However, from experience, I can attest that this is true for big tasks only. We can estimate how long designing a home page might take. But we rarely consider the time needed to make all those phone calls, quick updates, and other small tasks. As a result, a to-do list is always posed to fail us, and things will always get out of hand.
- Obstacles for completion. Similarly, to-do lists rarely include events and activities that will a.) take time from your day and b.) distract you from working. I spoke about some of those already – meetings, calls, etc.
What’s the result of it all? Well, issues that require immediate attention – usually because they’ve been delayed so long that the client demands them – get done. Anything else, however, gets pushed over.
But can you overcome it? Absolutely. But for that, you need to capture, prioritize, and plan your work more carefully.
The Timehero’s Work Management Methodology
Timehero focuses on optimizing three productivity elements – capturing, prioritizing and planning tasks.
Let’s go through each of those steps in turn.
Before you can do anything, you must collect everything related to project delivery in one place.
I’m not talking about tasks only here, though. Including just them would result in nothing else but a to-do list (and we’ve discussed the limitations of such a tool already.)
You must capture all items that pertain to the project – tasks, repeating tasks, milestones, events like pre-scheduled calls or meetings, company events, holidays, and more.
Why, because that’s the only way to gain clarity about everything that’s going to affect the project – the work that needs to be done, and everything that will stand in the way.
Not every item on the list is as important as the rest. The next step to clarity is to define what needs to be done first, and what items can wait.
Prioritizing certain elements will be simpler than others, I admit. Some tasks depend on something else happening first, after all. Ordering such work should pose no problem. Others, however, might require an extra insight into how the project should run.
I also recommend our users to define the time each task is going to take. By doing so, they can gain further clarity as to how to structure and plan the work.
Which brings us to the last step:
Finally, with all the work prioritized, you need to plan the delivery. Many processes exist to help. Gantt charts, Kanban boards, and more. The tool you choose makes no difference, as long as it allows you to do two things:
- Put your tasks in a detailed order, and
- Include additional events and factors you’ve defined in step 1 – meetings, calls, etc.
When you plan the work and block the time for each task, something wonderful happens. You know exactly what to do, when, and how to deliver it on time in spite of meetings and other factors that stand in the way.
There is, however, one more problem with it – No project is static. Things will change, new items will pop up, new meetings will get scheduled, new calls will need making…
That’s why the framework I just described is perpendicular. It never ends. You must capture, plan, and prioritize continuously, to deal with the unexpected and shift tasks to always move the project forward.
Luckily, there is a simple way to do so.
Automate your workflow management process.
Imagine capturing your tasks to your inbox, with all the details per each item that you need to complete it fully. Then, think of scheduling events and calls in the calendar, planning when each will happen and for how long. Now, imagine that this is where the work on the process ends, and all tasks and events fall into place nicely.
Does it sound like a pipe dream?
It doesn’t have to. Because that’s exactly what Timehero does. Our AI-powered workflow management app plans the work around your agency’s busy schedule to ensure that things will always get done.
It requires you to input tasks, of course. But then, the AI takes over and plans the work automatically. What’s more, it does so for you and your team.