The only way to meet your creative agency’s expectations for growth is to know how well it’s operating on every level and whether any changes need to be made to improve productivity. Good business reporting software gives you a picture of progress at both the project level and business level. Monitoring metrics in both these areas is essential to the success of your agency.
Project Level Reporting
Projects have a way of getting out of hand when you don’t have a good reporting system. Clients call with last-minute updates, team members get bogged down emailing each other for information and productivity suffers. Project-level reports show you where setbacks are occurring and what can be done to improve workflow.
With the ability to monitor and track every step of each project, you can see exactly how much is getting done within a given time period and how many resources are being used. If a large number of employees are missing deadlines and going over budget, it’s a sign that the process needs streamlining.
On the other hand, clear and comprehensive reporting also reveals which clients and projects are the most profitable for the agency. This helps you to make informed decisions about what types of projects to take on in the future and decide if you might be better off dropping clients who routinely slow work down with excessive revision requests.
Business Level Reporting
How well projects are progressing is only part of what you need to know to run a successful creative agency. At a higher level, you have to deal with cash flow, revenue projections, resource allocation and trends in profitability. When you know what your most lucrative projects are and which clients bring in the best work, you can use that information to direct assets and assign employees to the channels that generate the best returns. However, in order to know exactly what you to have to work with, you need to generate and evaluate business-level reports on a regular basis.
Reports at this level are all about watching trends. Tracking resources and comparing them to your goals from the beginning of the year or the beginning of the quarter shows whether or not you’re making the most of the resources you have. Watch how your gross profits track over time, note any consistent slow periods and make provision for them in order to avoid hitting unexpected slumps. Problems with cash flow may indicate that you need a better accounting system to support a good rate of turnover for invoices.
Choosing a Quality Reporting System
Business reporting software can take many forms, but for agencies trying to juggle several projects with multiple applications, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution is often best. An ERP lets you consolidate multiple processes into one program:
- Project planning
- Resource allocation
- Time tracking
- Invoicing and payments
- Client management
The free flow of information from one process to the next simplifies every step of your agency’s work. Data is updated in real time as projects advance, which ensures clear communication between team members and supervisors. It also allows you to give clients accurate progress reports at a moment’s notice and prevents mishaps such as duplicate invoices.
Real-time data is also essential for proper project management. Unless everyone on a team knows exactly what’s been completed and what remains to be done, productivity halts while they take the time to figure out what they’re supposed to be working on. Using one system simplifies data input, so employees don’t feel burdened by the thought of tracking time, reporting work progress or creating invoices.
The data you collect with your reporting system can’t languish unused. It must be consolidated and reviewed at consistent intervals and used to make improvements in your business processes. With all of your important metrics available in one place, it’s possible to generate comprehensive project-level and business-level reports at any time and compare them to see how well your agency is operating. By highlighting where processes can be streamlined to improve productivity and cash flow, this data has the power to drive the growth that you want to see for the company.