Our regular webinar viewers will know we’ve been leaning into the topic of “time” for some time now. We’ve looked at how time impacts everything from an agency’s pricing strategy, to workplace culture, and everything in between.
In this month’s webinar, we went back to basics to focus on what is possibly the biggest time-related challenge facing agency leaders today: getting staff to actually track their time in the first place!
Host Logan Lyles (Head of Partnerships at Teamwork.com) was joined by Gray MacKenzie (Co-Founder at Zenpilot) to tackle this perennial issue. Gray, who’s helped streamline the operations of over 2,500 agencies at ZenPilot, was on hand to give his expert advice on:
The common barriers stopping agencies from tracking their time and resources effectively
Best practices for how leaders can communicate time management with their teams
The key time metrics every agency should be tracking, and how to collect and use them effectively
How Teamwork.com helps agencies track and analyse time to inform future decision making
Before you check out the full episode, here are 4 key takeaways we learned from the discussion.
Don’t just collect data. Use it!
To kick off the webinar, Logan asked Gray for his initial reaction to the key findings from the Teamwork.com Agency Time Management Report. The Ebook, which analysed data from over 3,600 agencies to uncover the latest trends and insights on time management, reveals some fascinating insights that Gray was only too quick to highlight.
Responding to the notion that nearly two-thirds (61%) of agencies overestimate the time it takes to complete tasks, he said:
“The main takeaway here is that we’re not using actual data to go back and reinform stuff. We’re building out templates and asking people to put time estimates on it, but we’re not actually using the data we collect. This is the biggest sin of agency ownership – asking people to track time and then not doing anything with that data.”
Key takeaway: If your agency tracks time then it’s likely you’re sitting on a goldmine of data. Don’t let it sit there – use it to understand how long tasks have taken historically, and apply the data to inform future time estimates. Do this all you’ll be far less likely to fall into the trap of over-estimating.
Master tools, processes, and habits to unlock better time management
According to Gray, the vast majority of challenges facing ZenPilot customers relate to a lack of one thing: clarity.
“We’re talking to 15-20 agencies every week. And when you boil it down, it’s often like: “Hey, don’t have visibility into where my resources are going, or how best to use my people, my delivery teams are always telling me they’re understaffed. And I’m looking at our margins and always thinking we’re overstaffed. At the root of this is a lack of clarity at the high level – how’s my agency performing? What service lines are making sense when I need clarity all the way down to the end user?”
The solution? In Gray’s view, it’s all about having the right tools, processes, and habits in place:
“You need a great platform that’s integrated, have processes that live where the work gets done, and have very prescriptive habits so your employees know what they need to do every day.”
Key takeaway: Getting the right tools and processes in place is the easy part. Where some agencies struggle is getting teams to commit (and stick to) repeatable habits – particularly when it comes to logging time. To truly succeed, you need to get your entire team on the same page, with a shared culture and ethos for why and how you track time. Achieve this and your data will be all the richer and more powerful for it!*
*Pro tip: Building a winning team culture around time tracking is far easier said than done. But there are a few simple steps you can take to make it happen, starting with reframing the conversation around time tracking to focus on what’s in it for the employee. An example of this could be committing to hiring an additional staff member once certain parameters are met. Check out the full webinar for more hints and tips from Gray and Logan!
Be more transparent with your teams about capacity levels
Scope creep is (quite rightly) a big topic in the agency world, but something that isn’t discussed enough internally is capacity creep.
Gray believes it’s vital for agency leaders to discuss capacity levels with their teams on a regular basis:
“Your team needs to know where you’re at from a capacity perspective. The dangerous thing that I’ve seen over and over is when an agency is at excess capacity and everybody just gets used to whatever the current standard is. So, I get used to the fact I’m working 70%. But then you load me back up to 100% and I think you’re asking me to do 130%.”
“So, it’s super important that you’re modelling out and being transparent with your team about where we are from a capacity perspective, and how staff are fitting against your expectations.”
The takeaway: It’s vital to share capacity levels with your teams to help them understand where they sit. If you don’t do this, you run the risk of employees getting a warped sense of what full capacity looks like – leading to frustration and low morale when new work comes in. It’s all part of the culture piece we covered in the section above.
Use a native time-tracking tool like Teamwork.com
For the last section of the webinar, Gray did a live demo on how time tracking works inside the Teamwork.com platform.
You’ll have to watch the webinar to get the full experience, but here are just some of things he touched on:
The different layers of visibility – from what’s on your plate, to what’s overdue, to what’s coming up in the future
How to use task estimates to better manage your time
Want more winning insights into agency time management best practices? Watch the episode on-demand now!
Everybody hates doing their timesheets, but getting them right is crucial for unlocking better capacity management and growing your agency’s bottom line.
Watch the full episode with Logan and Gray to learn more about how to communicate time management with your teams, and harness data to manage your resources more effectively.