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Profit & Growth Tips for Digital Agencies

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How to Use Processes to Overhaul Agency Profitability

Posted by Laura Hernalsteen on Apr 14, 2016

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Your digital agency’s profitability is intrinsically linked to how your team use their time. Inefficient working practices take up more time than they should, meaning you can’t take on as much work, which affects your profit margins.

Today I’m looking at how defining and implementing processes can make your agency more efficient, and in turn more profitable.

Why Should I Define Processes for my Agency?

There are two main benefits of defining processes for your digital agency’s work: you make fewer mistakes, and you save time.

Having defined processes stops the cycle of making the same mistakes project after project, and reduces the risk of missing out a crucial step because it’s been overlooked. Mistakes impact your profit margins because you need to fix your errors, meaning you use more agency resources – like employee time and skills - on a project than anticipated, but you can’t bill for it.

With defined processes in place, you will also save time working on common tasks that you need to do regularly: your team won’t need to spend time thinking about what the next step is, because it’s already defined by your process. It also means you can get more junior employees working on tasks that they previously wouldn’t have had the knowledge or experience for.

6 Steps to Define and Implement Agency Processes

1) Categorise the work you do

It’s important that you identify the types of work your agency does – across all projects. A Resource Management tool will help with this, allowing you to label tasks and identify ones that occur regularly across multiple projects.

This will help you to identify common, similar tasks that could be more efficient with a defined process in place.

2) Do a project as you normally would, but carefully log how you do the work

This will make you aware of the key stages in each process, so you can identify all of the individual elements that are essential for it to be completed.

For example, if you were developing a mobile application for iOS you need to validate the app with Apple before it can be released. This requires a couple of weeks’ turnaround time for Apple’s verification process, which is outside of your agency’s control but needs to be taken into consideration when planning and running the project.

This is a vital requirement for your mobile app, and as it’s something that would be required for all iOS apps your agency develops, it would benefit from having a defined process in place – so that everyone knows how to do it, and you never forget to allow time for it.

3) Define processes that are needed for each common task

Continuing with the example of developing an iOS app, you could define the process for validation as a checklist of sub-tasks:

  • Receiving sign-off from the customer (so you are submitting the final version of your app for validation)
  • Submitting your app to Apple for validation
  • Receive validation feedback from Apple
  • Review validation issues, re-submit for review if necessary
  • Validation is successful (no further work needed)
  • App is uploaded to the app store.

This list is an easy-to follow, step-by-step process that defines exactly what is required before you can release the app.

The important thing to remember is that this process will be the same for every iOS app you develop, regardless of who the client is or what sort of app it is. You only need processes in place for tasks that you repeatedly do, and which are the same across different projects – for example, client onboarding or project sign-off.

4) Implement the process in your next project

In your next mobile app development process, make sure that your team follows the validation process step-by-step.

Tools such as Process Street provide you with a simple way to implement recurring processes, and share them with your team.

5) Evaluate the success of your process

Once you have implemented the process on a live project, it’s important to evaluate it. Did the process miss out a crucial step? Was it efficient or did it cause delays?

You want your agency processes to be as efficient and easy-to-follow as possible, so evaluation is an important step to maximise the value of your processes.

6) Optimise or redefine your processes where needed

Based on evaluative feedback, you can then identify areas of improvement and optimise your process to reduce friction and make it more efficient. As technology, your agency’s work, or customer requirements change over time, your processes may become outdated, so it’s important to regularly review them to ensure you are encouraging best practices rather than wasteful effort.

how to make your digital agency profitable

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