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Profit & Growth Tips for Digital Agencies

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Why Your Agency Shouldn’t Code Its Own Management Tool

Posted by Laura Hernalsteen on Jan 22, 2016


When you’re looking for a new tool for your agency, how often do you hear the objection, “Why should we pay $X per month for this when we could build something similar in-house?” You might even be the one voicing the objection.

This will be particularly common when looking for a management tool, as you and your team will have specific ideas of what functionality you need and what will best suit the way your agency works.

The Familiarity Argument

One of the most compelling reasons for your agency to code their own management tool is that you know your agency better than anyone. You’re familiar with how the agency works day-to-day, and what information you need to plan for the long term. As such, you think that you know exactly what you’ll want and need from a management tool, so could build a tool that is perfect for your agency and how you work.

But while your agency may have a team of developers who are entirely capable of coding their own tools, it’s important that you fully consider the impact that doing so would have on your agency.

The Hidden Costs of the ‘DIY’ Approach

1) Time

What makes more sense for your agency:

  • Spending hours working out the functionality you need for your own management tool, then hours for your developers to code the tool, then testing it, then further meetings to review how closely it meets your needs, then further coding and testing to add in functionality – all before you can even think about using the tool;
  • Or signing up to a resource management tool and starting to use it within minutes?

Why wait weeks or months for your developers to build a tool, when you can use one that’s already been built?

As well as the time that coding your own tool will take, it’s important to consider the cost to your agency too. The time that your developers spend building a management tool for your agency to use in-house is time that they could be spending on billable work. How many billable hours will this cost you, just to save $X per month?

2) Maintenance

After the initial build and set-up of your custom management tool, you can’t forget about maintenance. When thinking about building your own tool, the maintenance factor is easily overlooked.

To keep up with technological changes and ensure it integrates with current, common tools, your team will need to regularly maintain your management tool – keeping abreast of changes to common APIs, and updating your tool each time. This will also be necessary to ensure the tool meets the needs of your agency now, and also as your agency changes and grows in the future. Maintenance typically amounts to 10-20% of the initial costs, every year – both in time and money – and is an ongoing cost that’s often unaccounted for.

3) Opportunity for Learning

We all have our own way of doing things. The danger of coding your own management tool is that you assume that the way you and your agency work is the best possible way of doing things.

Building a tool that perfectly fits your agency’s way of working will also incorporate any bad habits that are ingrained in your way of thinking, and exacerbate any underlying company problems. In comparison, working with new tools can open your eyes to new ways of working and encourage you to develop new, better working habits that can improve your personal and company productivity.

Learn more about how choosing the right tools can boost your agency's profitability.

how to make your digital agency profitable

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