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How do agencies manage their creative campaigns? It’s common knowledge that excellent communication, project management and operational direction go hand in hand with success, and with the multitude of platforms available at our fingertips, how do the agencies of today choose which one will transform their business? The Drum Labs is here to help.

The Drum Labs, a new offering from The Drum, providing the answers to all your emerging martech problems, headed to New York to test out Deltek’s project management software, WorkBook. During Advertising Week New York, we selected five senior agency representatives to come along, hash out agency challenges and test out the software that aims to ease agency qualms.

Our intrepid “lab rats” included Amy Blasco, SVP experience analytics at Rapp; Dipti Bramhandkar, executive planning director of North America at Iris; Allen Singer, director of operations at Sudler & Hennessey; Michael Adler, media supervisor at The Specialist Works; and Daniel Meister, account director at ION Marketing.

What’s it all about?

WorkBook is an agency management system, created by developers deep in the throes of agency life providing a full and complete system to streamline processes and accountability.

The challenges facing agencies today are relentless, from forecasting to delivery, from resource management to timesheets.

Having thrived within the buzz of agency operations, project management and tech, Nancy Murray, managing director of agency solutions at Deltek said she’s passionate about WorkBook’s ability to deliver clarity and understand the entirety of projects holistically in real time and added: “Quality data drives tighter decisions for the entire business such as project KPIs, resource and team management,  budgets and people planning to ensure that deadlines are met, and that the workforce is balanced from a capacity standpoint.”

As well as WorkBook providing the sought-after transparency, Murray explains how it magnifies data to help avoid money loss and additional project costs: “How can we avoid fixed priced projects running over budget? How do we stop over-servicing our clients and get better and tighter with our estimating? WorkBook showcases real-time trends to fine-tune your operations and give you ROI: Return on Information for strong client management.” WorkBook curates data to facilitate closing the gap between unrealized revenue, so there is “no money left on the table,” an agency challenge that is known by too many.

The challenges

So, what were the challenges in the room? Our lab rats reported that their agencies used zero tools all way up to six or more different project management software tools to manage their business. But even in an eclectic mix of agency size and structure, the end goal is always the same – for agencies to ultimately be more seamless and effective when it comes to campaign delivery.

Adler of The Specialist Works explained: “We definitely need more fluidity across teams – it’s a big issue in a global agency.” More often than not, communication across teams, especially on a global scale, is difficult, and having a project management platform with the capability to see what everyone in the business is working on is paramount to becoming more efficient.

Dipti Bramhandker of Iris said: “From an agency perspective we are trying to flatten a level playing field and bring in a more commercial understanding of utilisation. We all need to clearly depict what everyone is working on, but then we need to assess whether a platform is user friendly enough.

“It needs to be approachable and it needs to have a proper training onboarding process. The challenge we find when taking on new systems is that the account team and the CFO are those who end up implementing it.”

Singer also agreed: “Once you have these insights and learnings, who is the right person to execute the talent? My biggest concern with these platforms is the data you put in. It’s an enormous labour to invest in maintaining the system as you want to work in real time.”

Work it out

Ultimately, whether you are an account manager, CFO or product developer; project management and productivity is everyone’s business in a company.

Even before an agency is onboarded with WorkBook, there is a clear implementation process.  Once onboarded a business mapping occurs to ensure the product is fully tailored to the defined agency’s process, culture and habits. .

The demo session, led by Bonnie Alexander, principal solutions[MOU2]  engineer, included a hands-on look into all the WorkBook modules – CRM, project and resource management and accounting. Our lab rats tested the various functionalities of WorkBook, starting with the CRM module. This involved various tasks such as: reviewing the pipeline forecast and adding new prospects. The second part of the session got our testers looking at scheduling; adding new tasks, allocating an employee to the task and timesheet entry though a mobile app.

The verdict

In conclusion, our adventurous lab rats found the demo experience “really insightful” and pushed them to think about their own internal processes.

Meister, from ION Marketing, came from a slightly different perspective, from a new agency with no project management system at all: “My eyes have really been opened to the possibilities of agency success through this session,” he claimed.

Blasco of Rapp, explained that while the agency used multiple systems, “ultimately the agency dream is to have one integrated system. The session this afternoon has made me think a lot about our processes and how we can improve them more by having one view.”

One integrated, user-friendly system seems to rule over multiple standalone systems. Our lab rats concluded that with WorkBook it is possible to maintain a flexible system that can be customized to meet the needs of agencies of all sizes. 

Check out WorkBook for yourself here.