LevelUp: A Checklist for Optimizing Agency Operations

June 08, 2020

LevelUp is our agency maturity model based on research and expertise with the help of other industry experts. This model has worked with thousands of agencies of all sizes. It provides a benchmark to compare where your business stands today, and a structured path to mature and scale in 2020 and beyond.

Below are four levels of the agency operations maturity model:

Level 1: Manual Multiplicity

You know your agency is in Level 1 if you have:

  • Spreadsheet management
  • Manual project creation and guesstimating
  • Found yourself firefighting deadlines and constantly chasing
  • Collaborate using email
  • Lack of data reliability
  • Accounting system separate from project management
  • To import / export data from one siloed system to another

How to mature your agency out of Level 1

Focus on estimating and precision. Accuracy is directly linked to greater profitability. It’s time to do a reality analysis. Identify 2-3 project types to analyze and post-mortem. Compare your budget vs actuals. Work on becoming more consistent with each project. Think about process and automation. Review agency systems and implement technology to streamline processes.

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Level 2: Proactive Projects

You know your agency is in Level 2 if you have:

  • Deployed a project specific collaboration system
  • Real-time budget vs actuals for each project
  • Resource planning and mobile task management
  • Optimized utilization
  • Established process to automate project creation and template use
  • Project trend analysis
  • Consistent project reporting

How to mature your agency out of Level 2

It is your responsibility, as agency leaders, to provide your people with tools to better do their jobs. Empower your team leads and creatives to drive towards the same destination. It is critical to enable your project manager for advanced project delivery management. Aim for more consistent project creation using templates. Understand PeopleCurrency: there is an ROI on better managed people.

Make sure you have fiscal and financial accountability, including P&L at the project level. Link financial rewards to project management results. Regularly check your budget vs your actuals.

Your clients will spot disorganization right away. In fact, both clients and employees expect 3 things: speed, authenticity, and transparency.

Level 3: Proactive Business KPIs

You know your agency is in Level 3 if you have:

  • Reporting on Capability KPIs (profit center, department, teams, offices, etc.) in one click
  • Strategic pricing analysis with accurate estimating
  • CRM & forecasting for accurate FTE planning
  • Fast and effective invoicing
  • Accounting period closing and book integrity
  • An agency-specific system fully integrated with finance and accounting
  • Data integrity

How to mature your agency out of Level 3

Identify the most profitable capabilities in your agency’s performing competences supported by data that you can trust. Look at your teams, project types, departments, etc. that are most profitable, determine what should be sunset and what you should say no to. This should enable you to better predict projects that will succeed or fail. Find consistency at the business level - tracking your business KPIs allows for truth and transparency.


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Level 4: Optimization + Thriving Culture

You know your agency is in Level 4 if you have:

  • Workload and culture balance
  • Enhanced people development
  • A self-guided people learning path
  • Effective resource planning optimized for scale
  • Focused 3 / 5 year strategic plans
  • Principal(s) exit strategy

How to keep your agency maturing

Focus on people for a thriving culture of learning. Proactive people management & skill development will bring a sense of calm and security and promote empowerment. Elevate individuals to elevate teams and business.

Reflecting on the Agency Maturity Model

At what level would you place your organization? What is missing to prevent you from getting to the next level? What would it mean if you fill that gap? How big of a priority would it be to bridge that gap? What is your agency’s future direction?

While we are in the midst of a downturn, you can still grow and thrive. Deltek is here to help – schedule a call with one of our agency solutions consultants and they can give you ideas on how to maximize the value of your existing set up.