Creative and advertising agencies around the world have their hands full for good reasons.
Powerhouses such as Ogilvy, WWP, Dentsu, and Havas need to keep clients such as LEGO, H&M, and Volkswagen happy with their services. At the same time, they also have to manage their teams efficiently across multiple global offices and time zones while ensuring they’re still profitable.
How do they make this possible? With the help of agency project management software.
What is agency project management?
While there is no concrete definition for agency project management software, agencies rely on the following features to manage projects successfully:
- Quoting – estimates and budgets
- Project planning and workflows – Gantt charts, kanban boards, and customizable workflows
- Resource scheduling – workloads, availabilities, and leave days
- Team and client collaboration – access control, comments, and file sharing, and revisions
- Time tracking – timesheets, web browser and mobile app timers
- Data analytics – customized and out-of-the-box reports and dashboards
- Billing – invoices, recurring invoices, and expenses
- Mobile apps – comparable mobile experience on iOS and Android versus desktop web browsers
Paymo offers all of the above, plus more
Let’s walk through some of the ways that Paymo can help you automate your agency’s workflow so that you can focus more on the creative side of things.
Every creative project starts with a kick-off meeting between your agency and the client. Both parties scope out the project for requirements, budget, and costs. The result is usually a quote that summarizes deliverables to be further accepted by the client.
Paymo’s built-in accounting module allows you to create quotes from scratch to accommodate these details. Together with task budgets and costs, you can list out the project deliverables first and quickly work out an estimated cost minus all the manual work.
Project planning and workflows
Once the quote is accepted, it’s time for the actual planning phase.
In Paymo, tasks are part of a project. You can toggle between the default List view and four task views: Table, Kanban, Calendar, and Gantt.
Among these task views, the kanban board will prove useful when monitoring task statuses along the project lifecycle. Workflows are also highly customizable where your team can add to their own project stages.
Similarly, the Gantt chart displays the duration of each task. It also shows you how dependent tasks impact the delivery date through the project’s critical path.
As an agency, having dozens of offices spread across the globe imposes a few HR difficulties.
Luckily, Paymo’s team scheduler plots all your team members’ schedules on the same visual timeline along with their current workloads and availabilities. This allows you to immediately see who is over or under-booked and where you can free up your team’s time to focus on important tasks.
Days off are also included on the same timeline as hachured segments so you don’t have to leave it when accounting for individual leave days.
Team and client collaboration
Once the planning and scheduling phase is complete, it’s time for the actual work to start. This entails several back-and-forth communications and draft submissions mediated through the following features between your creative team and the client.
You can invite other people to Paymo as a user or a guest. The guest function is slowly being phased out according to Paymo’s team, but it remains active for now.
You can add your team members or temporary collaborators to Paymo as users. There are three types of users: admins, project managers, or team members – each with its own level of user permissions. This can be further configured by changing the following privileges under each user’s settings:
- Has admin privileges
- Can add projects
- Can manage invoices
- Can manage estimates
- Can manage expenses
On the other hand, clients or important stakeholders you collaborate with on the project can be added as guests. Although guest users cannot add tasks, they’re able to comment on the tasks they’ve been assigned to, start project discussions, and view the overall project plan.
Don’t worry, guest users won’t have access to the financial data, such as user hourly rates or task costs.
Comments and file sharing
Comments and project discussions are table stakes. This means you can chat with your team members in real-time about the latest project updates without losing context. Although, discussions are more suitable for brainstorming and clearing out any details with clients.
In terms of sharing files, Paymo makes everything traceable. Assets belong to a task, task comment, or project; and you can upload various file formats either from your computer or Google Drive.
Paymo would not be a comprehensive agency project management tool without supporting revisions on behalf of both creators and reviewers (read clients).
When you are ready to leave feedback on a design asset, just click on the image attachment to open the file proofing and versioning editor. You can pinpoint changes by using markup tools and give actionable instructions by leaving threaded comments. In return, designers can easily review your feedback and comments to work on and upload new versions
For most projects, agencies usually sell their services by the hour. This makes relying on an effective time tracking tool crucial to an agency’s overall rentability.
Paymo is one of the few project management tools with an advanced built-in time tracking tool. The tool provides a web timer that runs in your browser with two desktop apps: 1) the widget, which offers a breakdown of your daily efforts; and 2) PaymoPlus, an automatic time tracker that runs in the background to record your “digital footprints” and match them with relevant tasks in Paymo.
This time tracking tool is also available as an iOS and Android app and we will cover it at the end in detail.
Also, for agency project managers – you’re in for a treat! Paymo provides timesheets that allow you to add time entries on behalf of your team members and monitor the accuracy of their logs. Additionally, you can also add your own time in bulk.
Speaking of timesheets, be sure to create time reports to fully capitalize on your team’s data.
Time reports in Paymo are extremely customizable. You can decide which items to show on the report and how to order them. Once this is done, you can share the reports with your team or clients who want more proof than a simple invoice.
What’s more, Paymo’s data analytics tool come with various readily available dashboards to indicate the overall “health” of a client, project, or user.
Most importantly, Paymo’s dashboard can also function as the company dashboard. Unlike most project management tools, this one is more focused on the agency’s time tracking and invoicing aspects. For example, you can compare the billable vs. non-billable time entries to determine if you need to take on more projects. You can also check your creditworthiness in terms of the paid vs. pending invoices ratio.
Congratulations! You’ve completed the project and your client is happy. Now it’s time to send them an invoice, but unfortunately the billing stage can be a headache.
Paymo automates this stage by turning your timesheets, flat-rate projects, or flat-rate tasks into an accurate invoice with just a few clicks. Alternatively, you can create your own invoice from scratch.
Paymo’s billing tool supports 85 currencies for your agency to invoice clients in their local currency. You can also issue invoices using Paymo’s 15 multi-language templates. By billing your clients in their native currency, you’re building stronger relationships with them.
Besides invoices and estimates, expenses are also part of Paymo’s accounting module. You can categorize expenses with tags such as “gas”, “lunch”, and “deductibles”, and filter them on a team member’s expenses to see who is the top spender in a particular month.
Paymo wouldn’t be a robust project management software for agencies if it wasn’t for its iOS and Android apps. The mobile experience is comparable with the desktop web browser version, and you can easily manage all tasks either as a list or kanban board on the go.
Rich task details promise clear deliverables. Paymo offers a broad range of notifications, making sure you never miss any important project updates. The global search function is also equipped with filters to help you find the item you’re searching for via an exact or partial keyword match.
However, the time tracking feature is only available for yourself where you can view your own timesheet but not your colleagues’. What’s more, invoicing is an integral part of the mobile app. You can preview invoices before sending and accepting online payments. Wherever you are in the world, you can easily manage your agency’s finances and overall profitability.
Starting with Paymo
Paymo isn’t short of features – it’s one of the most comprehensive project management apps that cover every business aspect of a creative and advertising agency.
The good part is that most features are segmented into modules; you have the freedom to choose how you want to view everything.
Paymo has a limited free version of up to 10 users and a 15-day free trial for its two paid plans. These start at $9.56/user/month. Due to its ease of onboarding, Paymo is ideal for both multi-department agencies and smaller teams.
If you’re ready to gain full control over your work in the agency project management domain, then check out Paymo.