Getting a start on agency software

I have worked with individuals in many agencies who thought agency software was a plug & play solution, to fix problems ranging from timekeeping to project management and accounting.

You actually need a plan. Never assume plug and play. Train your team.

Do some internal research. What is everyone using right now? Do you want a fully integrated system? If so, is everyone willing (or required) to get on board with a comprehensive solution?

What areas do you need to include – job start, schedule, estimates, briefs, timesheets? Do those individual areas need to be integrated? (They should be!)

What reports do need? What reports would you love to have? What reports do you currently use that you need replicated?

How does your team or agency deal with change? New software = major changes, often in procedure. People hate change. It’s hard – especially when you’re busy. Figure an adoption strategy into the mix because aversion to change is the biggest reason for failure to launch new systems.

Once research and planning are done – and Management has given full support, start working with your software (or software provider).

Plug & Play (doesn't exist)
For a fully-functioning system that works for your agency, you must understand the tools you’re buying and what you need to setup (client or employee codes/names, etc.), or define terminology ahead of time so everyone is using a common language.

Easy-entry, inexpensive (or free), cloud-based solutions are great. But the best solution is where your agency can share that information. So agree upon how the tools are used and again a common terminology. Think collaboration.

Set it up, and test. If your software is used by different areas of the agency (even easy-entry cloud-ware), run a test job through, get input and make adjustments. And a really nice thing to do – document how you use it. Just bullet points will do. A roadmap for new-hires gets them on board faster and frees your time. Plus it serves as a reminder to those who tend to ‘work around’ the system.

This doesn't have to be long, boring and painful. But do set up training that is specific to each group – Account, Creative, Production – whatever the role – based on what they will be using. Make it quick, simple, and painless without distractions (no smart phones).

Check in with everyone to make sure there are no unresolved issues. A workaround, backsliding or moving back to legacy systems spells death to progress. Pull everyone together a few weeks after roll-out to make adjustments. If there is something really sticky, fix it immediately.

One last item: software can have bugs, or there may be a feature you’d love to have. Let your software provider know of both. You don’t have to work around bugs, plus enhancements and new features are the road to software improvement.

Having any issues implementing new software?