Growing a digital agency is by no means an easy feat. As any experienced entrepreneur will say, scalability is the only way to keep your business growing.
If your growth has been stagnant for a while, there’s a high chance that sales will begin to drop very rapidly, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself in the red. Scaling a digital agency is quite different from scaling a product-based business.
Managing different projects often becomes difficult, especially if you don’t have the resources available to maximize profitability. That’s why it’s so important to establish processes to reduce those growing pains.
But it’s equally important to know exactly where to implement these management processes and then follow up with your team to understand the impact the strategies create.
Here’s our full guide to help you manage projects and scale your digital agency effectively.
Establish Clear Roles and Responsibilities
Successful businesses place one thing high up on their priority list: they are very clear in their communications. Every member of the team knows exactly what they have to do, and the radius of responsibility is very well-defined.
Digital agencies today follow an incredibly dynamic business model, with clients requesting a wide range of features as the project progresses. If team members aren’t sure of what they have to do or to who to assign the task, it’s always going to be difficult for you to scale.
You’ll find yourself spending hours assigning specific tasks or juggling priorities. Establishing clear roles and responsibilities is very important if you want to scale your agency rapidly.
It’s one of the biggest challenges for growing teams, especially when you’re hiring new members. It can lead to wasted efforts and result in serious production bottlenecks, especially if two people on the team end up doing the same task.
If there’s confusion about who has to do what, you’ll end up losing time having to explain these things.
One of the best ways to tackle this is to create a team charter. A team charter is simply a document that outlines the responsibilities of each member of the team, the available resources, and any constraints that they might face.
It provides a clear idea to every team member about what the objectives are and how each member can contribute towards achieving them. Eliminating any kind of confusion in your core processes is important to reduce bottlenecks and improve efficiency.
Use the Right Tools to Help You Scale
As your agency starts scaling, you will want to consider investing in the right tools. Most digital agency owners use anywhere between five and ten different subscription-based services at the very least to manage operations.
Even then, they spend hours daily just sifting through emails and creating tasks for other team members. As your business grows, you will want to consider investing in the right tools and switching to services that offer a more cohesive workflow.
The general workflow for many small agencies goes like this:
- They receive client instructions via email.
- They create tasks using a project management tool
- They assign these tasks to a specific team member
- The team member uses another tool to track their time
- The team often communicates using a workplace communication tool.
- The designs are handed over using another tool and client feedback is received
As you can see, this isn’t really a scalable process. To begin with, there are several steps that you’ll eventually add to the process, including QA testing, bug reporting, and tracking. For longer projects, you’ll also have to create roadmaps and milestones.
The process becomes costlier and more inefficient as your projects begin to grow. Eventually, you’ll begin to face every entrepreneur’s worst nightmare: sales friction.
Process-driven teams scale easily because they are efficient and follow a very lean workflow. If you can find tools that let you bunch several steps into one, go for it.
When we built Atarim, that’s what we were going for. We wanted to create a tool that allowed agency owners to work more effectively. From its centralized Agency Dashboard to its time-tracking and simple commenting tool, Atarim makes it easy for agency owners to streamline processes and shave off those extra, repetitive steps that consume more time.
Create a Lead Qualification Process
As your digital agency starts to grow, you’ll have to increase your marketing efforts. But, that doesn’t mean that you use the same strategies that you were using before.
Successful business leaders are very dynamic and are willing to adapt business processes as their requirements grow. One of the things that you’ll need to focus on to maximize growth is to establish a proper lead qualification process.
Unless you’re able to identify leads with a higher probability of conversion through a proper lead qualification process, you’ll be wasting your efforts. Businesses that scale are built on a foundation of the discipline.
Instead of investing too much time and effort in an opportunity that never materializes, you need to define controls and establish a proper sales funnel. This way, you’ll be able to qualify leads as they slowly move through your funnel.
If you don’t know which prospects make for the best sales targets, you’ll end up wasting lots of time and effort. Your ROAS (Return On Advertising Spend) will continue to spike, and it’ll significantly affect your growth prospects.
One of the best methods that you can use to qualify a sales lead is to use the BANT method. This is a series of questions that will help you better understand different leads. Here’s how it works:
- Budget: Will the prospect be able to afford the average price of the service you’re offering?
- Authority: Does the prospect have the authority to make a decision? Or, do they need to refer to someone else?
- Needs: Does the prospect even need the service you’re offering? Or are they just browsing, or still considering whether to buy?
- Time: Is the prospect ready to make a purchase now, or will it take them a while longer?
This simple set of questions can help you better understand your prospects. If a prospect seems viable based on these characteristics, you will have a better idea about how much time and effort to spend on acquiring their business.
Track KPIs and Review Performance Reports
You can’t scale your agency unless you can track KPIs and review your team’s performance. You need to change your attitude towards project management in order to scale and identify efficient ways of working.
If you aren’t keeping tabs on key performance indicators or don’t have any milestones set for different projects, you’ll always find it difficult to attribute relevant successes and eventually replicate them.
There are several key metrics that you can track in your digital agency, some of which include:
- Total number of qualified leads
- Customer lifetime value
- Cost of consumer acquisition (CAC)
- Average profit margins for different services
- Average time worked by each employee
Foster Collaboration Between Teams
Almost any successful business owner will tell you that the key to maintaining efficiency and ensuring timely completion of work, is to foster collaboration between different teams.
Working in silos can lead to serious issues, especially since work often overlaps between different departments. Fostering collaboration and communication between teams can help you complete projects faster, reduce resource consumption, and maximize profitability.
It’s also a key tenet of successful project management. When teams are in the know about what others are working on, and can easily review what stage the project is at, it becomes easier for them to pitch in when necessary.
More importantly, it removes production bottlenecks, because team members can communicate with each other more freely than having to approach one specific person to help them route tasks.
Use Integrations to Automate Tasks
Automation doesn’t just help you save money; it also helps you save crucial time that you could spend on more important tasks that generate greater profits. We believe that businesses that fail to change their ways often find it difficult to scale quickly.
Keep in mind that the traditional “big agency” model is often scrutinized heavily by clients. It’s one of the reasons why so many entrepreneurs are now leaving the relative safety of a corporate job and starting their own agencies.
If you’re running a small team, you need to think about bringing on a new player: automation. From automatically assigning tasks to using integration tools like Zapier to seamlessly connect to other apps, you could save a ton of time if you do it right.
At Atarim, we understand the power of automation and appreciate just how much time and effort it can save for our users. That’s why we have native integrations available for all major project management apps.
With Zapier, you could supercharge workflows and get a lot more done with half the effort. For instance, if you use Trello, you can use Zapier to automatically create new cards. You can also configure Atarim to automatically send emails to clients when a task status changes. These are just some simple examples of Zapier Integrations for Atarim that you can use to customize workflows according to your requirements.
The best way to figure out which processes to automate is to look at those repetitive tasks that you or other members of the team have to perform regularly. We’ve built a few automated workflows in Atarim, where tasks are automatically created when a client leaves a comment, but you can always do more.
Document and Detail Process Workflows
As you start to scale, you’ll also bring on new employees to your team. Having to explain processes over and over again is time-consuming and affects performance. Instead, the best thing that you can do is document workflows.
From explaining the need to outlining the steps that each employee must take for specific tasks, detailing workflows can help you streamline production considerably.
It’s important to know that several employees from different teams will be working together on a single project. Developers will work with designers and writers to ensure that a website is completed on time.
If people don’t know who to contact or wait for before they start working on a project, it could lead to serious issues. You need to break down tasks and clearly instruct members of the team about who to contact when handing off a project at a specific stage.
Again, this is an iterative process. As your agency continues to scale, needs will change. You will have to incorporate new roles, introduce new processes, and remove those that have become unnecessary.
By documenting workflows and making sure that you continue to change based on the needs of your agency, you will be able to onboard new employees more effectively, and make sure that every employee knows what to do without you having to constantly approach them or instruct them.
Use Atarim to Supercharge Your Agency’s Growth
Every business faces scalability challenges. With Atarim, we believe that you can overcome most of them. We designed Atarim after evaluating the needs of our own agency.
We wanted to create a visual feedback tool that brings together features from different platforms and packages them into one single platform. From time tracking to reviewing team tasks, to gathering content from clients – Atarim can do quite a bit.
It’s not going to solve all scalability issues for a growing agency, but it’ll definitely make them easier to handle. Many agencies prefer Agile development techniques because it’s faster and reduces development cycles, but that also leads to several challenges that you may want to prepare for.
With Atarim, however, it becomes much easier to manage remote teams, onboard new clients, and work consistently to maximize output, all of which eventually translates into greater revenue.
Scale Rapidly with Effective Project Management
Most web design agencies often run into scalability challenges as they start onboarding new clients. It’s often difficult to carefully balance bringing on more resources and accepting new projects.
Uncertainty, ambiguity, and complexity in project management is quite common, but as long as managers continue to refine processes and maintain transparency, it puts the agency in a prime position for growth.