Creative agencies have a lot of choices when it comes to project management tools, but not every solution takes an integrated approach. Putting too many different systems into place means wasting valuable time bouncing between platforms.
It’s hard to keep track of who’s working on what, which projects have been properly billed and whether or not jobs are actually turning a profit.
The Freelance Designer Toolbox
Unlimited Downloads: 500,000+ Web Templates, Themes, Plugins & Design Assets
Consider all the processes going on at once in your agency. At any given moment, your team could be capturing leads, sending quotes to clients, working on projects or generating invoices.
In the face of such a diverse set of processes, traditional time tracking and workflow management software fall short. When you integrate every aspect of your projects, however, work begins to flow more smoothly. Instead of juggling multiple tools, you can access all the information you need in one place. This not only saves valuable time but also ensures that administrators, supervisors and team members are always on the same page.
As time goes on, patterns begin to emerge in workflows that can be applied to future projects, making the creation and management processes even easier. This increased efficiency, along with tracking and analytical tools available in integrated platforms, offers the opportunity to expand your client base and increase profitability.
Tips for Successful Project Management Integration
The goal of integration is to facilitate a more productive and profitable operation by keeping your teams on task and your projects on target. This requires a solid foundation in good management practices supported by the right tools to meet the needs of your agency.
Choose the Best Software
The best integration software is whatever solution will support your regular workload and the types of projects that your team handles the most. This includes not only creating projects and assigning roles but also the associated tasks of time tracking and invoice management.
Look for applications that include communication tools to make it easier for team members to stay in contact throughout all phases of each project.
Set Up Smart Workflows
Every project follows a logical progression toward completion, and many use the same tools and processes at various steps along the way. Make note of these processes, including how each step leads into the next, which employees or teams handle particular aspects of creation and any changes that might be made to improve efficiency.
Build workflows using this information so that all team members have a logical path to follow that boosts productivity and speeds project completion.
Utilize Reporting Tools
Good project management software includes in-depth reporting that shows important details about time, resource allocation and profitability. With these reports, you can see:
- Which team members are the most efficient workers.
- Which services are the most popular.
- The types of projects that generate best profits.
- Which clients bring in the highest volume of work.
- Whether projects are on track to finish by the prescribed deadlines.
View these reports regularly to ensure that all available resources are allocated where they’ll be the most useful and that nothing is being wasted on a project that extends beyond the original estimated scope.
Create Profitable Teams
With the insights you gain from reports, it’s easier to build teams of employees that work well together and to determine when you may need to hire outside help to round out the pool of available talent. Once your groups have been created, use project management tools to set deadlines, assign tasks and share the files and resources to necessary complete each job.
Integration only succeeds when all team members can communicate effectively.
Administrators have to talk to supervisors, and supervisors must stay in continual contact with their teams. Project management solutions offer extensive benefits in this area by putting all of the important information for your projects together in a central, easily accessible location.
Team members can view and manage jobs, mark tasks as completed, upload relevant documents and send messages to others from the main portal of the software. Supervisors and administrators get a bird’s-eye view of how every project is progressing and can step in with changes if need be.
Get Proactive with Billing
True integrative project management includes solutions for creating and managing invoices. Information from the initial quote and the actual time spent on each project can be accessed by the invoicing tools to generate accurate branded invoices that may be sent directly to clients. Payment histories can be viewed from the administrator dashboard, allowing you to see which invoices are still pending, which clients have paid and who has a tendency to be late with payments.
Your project management solution should have an associated app that works on multiple mobile platforms. This allows you to make use of your teams no matter where they are and manage projects while you’re on the go.
With all information updated in real time, team members at the office can see changes immediately and build upon what their mobile colleagues are working on. If the results of a client meeting alter the way a project needs to be approached, the details can be corrected right away so that no precious work time is lost waiting for the information to be brought back to the agency.
Stay Connected with Clients
Some integrated project management platforms have dedicated portals that allow clients to view digital proofs and make notes that are added to the information associated with each job. Without the necessity of making a call or send an email, projects go along much more quickly, and clients appreciate being offered an element of control.
When you keep these considerations in mind as you implement an integrated project management strategy, you lay the foundation for a more productive and efficient agency. Full integration increases time spent on projects, speeds turnaround times and reduces the instances of late payments. You’ll have a more satisfied team, happier clients and greater growth potential for the agency as a whole.