Include Your Team When Evaluating Agency Software

This Forbes article by Avi Dan relates to building a great creative team. But this isn’t just for doing creative – it’s really for solving any puzzle or problem.

When I implement an agency management software solution, I invite people from all areas of an agency – to review, question, and provide the ‘what ifs’. If you want people to use something, give them a voice. And listen. Inclusion and careful consideration of their feedback will go a long way. They won’t feel victimized by some decision that accounting or the partners made for the hope of better performance and reporting.

There is no reason for victims.

Boring things like process and procedure do have real a purpose in any organization and should induce a positive outcome. They provide the framework so the daily hum of an agency has a level of predictability and is logical to everyone.

Why are we doing this?

Introducing agency management tools, along with a ‘new’ process – without input – is usually a disaster.

Putting time and money into tools and process without engaging your agency staff is a waste. And if you’ve done it unsuccessfully once, I can guarantee they will be even less inclined to participate should you look for yet ‘another solution’.

In the article, points number four and five are important:

4. Get naïve feedback. “Beginner’s luck” can facilitate creativity – with a twist. A lot of brilliant ideas don’t start this way, but become so when remarked on by a novice or an outsider. Experts sometimes tend to think in lockstep, and denigrate ideas not their own. Reach out for naïve advice beyond the usual suspects and liberate your creativity.

5. Fail quickly, cheap – and often. Creative organizations understand that success and failure go hand in hand, and therefore they are not intimidated by the prospect of failing. The willingness to absorb failure is liberating and encourages creativity. Simply manage the economics of failure to make it acceptable.

Get feedback – even though you know your business well, when’s the last time you sat in a production artist or coordinator’s seat? They’re the ones doing the work, using the tools and are really important sources of information (why did X happen?). Ensuring tools and processes work for them is essential. They know things you can’t even imagine…

Fail quickly – there’s always a transition to be factored in when introducing new tools or process. Didn’t think of transition? Step back and determine if it is transition – letting go of old, ‘trusted’ systems and using new ones – or if there are situations that you didn’t consider. Review those situations immediately. If the tools or process aren’t working as they were designed / trained /deployed, pull your team together and determine if you need to re-boot.

It’s far better to re-boot, or put off a plan that wasn’t thoroughly vetted than to launch half-cocked – which is usually due to a self-imposed deadline.

This is for the long-haul. No one wants to do this more than once.

I believe in a completely integrated solution to manage agency work, to track projects, to document what’s going on, to assign tasks – everything in one place. Multiple and/or redundant systems don’t provide the level of transparency everyone needs to assure everything is running smoothly.

I also believe that everyone is a stakeholder. Everyone is responsible. That means every individual is accountable for clearly defined instructions, content, budgets, schedules – and doing their part updating / making notes / passing along information – in a shared, structured environment.

That is where transparency in process resides.

You get that transparency through compliance. You get compliance with a system that everyone can use, knows how to use it, and who were given a voice in the evaluation and decision-making process.

They become owners of the process and systems your agency has paid for.