From Mad Men to Mad Management
Advertising and marketing agencies are seen as slick, fast and exciting businesses in which everything happens at a breakneck pace. The glamour of Mad Men undoubtedly has coloured people’s perceptions of the industry.
In reality, of course, agencies are really not much different from other businesses in that they are challenged consistently by inefficiencies and systems which can slow them down. So what are the major IT-related challenges facing marketing and advertising agencies at the moment?
Fast-growing businesses – as agencies often are – may find that their systems cannot keep up with their operations. A typical example would be a company with an acquisition agenda, multiple offices or a requirement to keep staff mobile. The systems are often manual and vary across the business.
Similarly, many agencies like their staff to have the ability to work remotely from an agreeable location such as home, or away from the office. So there is a need to ensure all staff members have access to the company’s systems through mobile platforms.
Issues such as these can lead to problems of poor forecasting, resources and time being regularly wasted, poor visibility of cost per client or profitability reporting. And, all too often, these take the management team’s focus away from driving forward the core business.
Creative Solutions for the Creative Industry
Cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) products, such as NetSuite , have integrated modules and dashboards which are easy to navigate and can include a live system perspective which allows a “helicopter view” of the entire business.
The role of the IT provider is to help company managers understand which modules their businesses need – and, crucially, those they don’t. Then they take staff through the deployment so that the system is fully integrated into the business by the time they depart
Most leading IT systems providers employ developers whose role is to adapt the software so that it fits around the business perfectly rather than adapting the business to fit the demands of the software. Ultimately, the software ought to provide complete visibility around the business to enable better decision-making.
The most crucial decision is to make sure you use an expert provider with a discernible track record of achievement and customer endorsements. Commission a company which will take the time to get to know your business and to understand your needs.
It pays to work with people who can envisage how you might use the system in the future as well – someone who can anticipate your needs as well as react to them. The implementation process can be arduous and difficult – especially when it comes to staff buy-in.
So make sure you employ a partner who is prepared to stay with you after implementation to ensure that everything is running smoothly and you are not stuck with software you cannot use.
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Emma Stewart is Sales & Marketing Director at Cofficient, a business enabling specialist.