Many agencies will use a whiteboard to plan projects, or share and prioritise the agency’s workload. Whiteboards are an easy-to-use starting point to visually display your projects, but as your agency grows, you may find that you are being limited by your whiteboard’s lack of functionality.
Today I’m looking at how digital agencies use whiteboards, and the limitations they can face as their agency grows.
How Agencies Use Whiteboards
Planning or Allocating Workloads
Some agencies will use whiteboards as a visual way to show tasks and deadlines, or allocate work to employees. This would be done during a team meeting -- often at the start of each week -- to shape the team’s priorities.
The whiteboard would become a record of the meeting’s discussions, and useful for employees to refer back to as they work as it visually displays workloads and priorities. The downside to this is that the whiteboard becomes a tool only used in conjunction with team meetings: meaning that whenever it needs updating, a meeting must be hosted to inform everyone of the proposed changes.
Simple Project Management/Planning
Writing on a whiteboard is a very physical and tactile task, which makes it a good tool for brainstorming and sharing creative ideas. However, a whiteboard can only really be used by one person at a time, which means it’s not perfect for collaboration. Agencies can work around this by using it to record ideas after a collaborative discussion, instead.
Whiteboards are also a great, visual way to map out a project: highlighting deadlines your team should be aware of, plus enabling them to check off tasks as they work. They're often used for Kanban Boards, an agile project management tool that shows all outstanding tasks on a project, plus progress the team has made against them. Used this way, whiteboards are good for simple project planning and management, providing a way to share key information with the entire team.
Limitations of Whiteboards
1) Physical Location
Most whiteboards are fixed in their location – on a wall in one office or meeting room. If your agency team works remotely, across different offices, or in a large open office space, only some of your team will be able to view the whiteboard from their desks. It’s hard to position the board in a way that is accessible to all, meaning employees are unable to refer to it as they work.
2) Physical Size
The size of your whiteboard is another constraint. You only have a finite amount of space, so you will regularly reach a point where you can’t fit more content on your whiteboard without erasing something.
You may find that you’re having to choose between adding a new project to your board, or further tasks/deadlines relating to an existing project. A whiteboard is fine when you’re a small team working on simple projects, but as you grow there's a need to continually add a large number of tasks, deadlines and information. This eventually results in a messy, overly complex whiteboard that not even the person who updates it can understand anymore.
Once you’ve erased something from your whiteboard, it’s gone forever. You’ll have no way to access previous versions of it, making it difficult to measure the efficiency or profitability of your projects, as you have no permanent record of what happened.
A whiteboard is also hard to change as you work – it’s inflexible: making adding tasks into a workflow or moving information around a challenge. To do this you’ll need to erase content then write it up again with additions or adjustments. These changes cause more mistakes, waste your team's time, and increase the chance of tasks being missed, or deadlines forgotten.
Is There a Better Tool for my Agency?
The limitations of a whiteboard mean that it often becomes a retroactive tool used for showing what you’ve done, rather than a proactive tool for planning.
When your agency is small, the simple functionality of a whiteboard will work fine. But as you grow, you will require greater flexibility and functionality that a whiteboard can’t offer, such as time-tracking, project overviews and analytics; necessary insights to ensure your digital agency's profitability.
When you outgrow your whiteboard for project planning and workload management, a dedicated resource management tool will provide your agency with the functionality you need to help your agency grow.
Learn more about the common tools and processes digital agencies like yours use, and how better choices increase profits, by downloading our free eGuide today.