Planning Projects In An Agency - When Art And Science Meet

Posted by Ray Kieser on November 29, 2016

agency project planning

It’s no secret that forecasting and capacity planning are notoriously disliked for their perceived inaccuracies.

Just when an agency thinks it has the right mix of understanding, planning and forethought to predict the amount of client work coming down the pipeline, an unforeseen event occurs completely throwing off the balance.

Worse yet, if the forecasting is well off then the agency either suffers as people sit around with nothing to do (said no one in the creative world ever) or you find yourself in a situation where people have to work longer hours and weekends in order to compensate.

With such negative consequences, it’s not a surprise that a lot of time and money is often spent trying to make sure forecasting and resourcing is as accurate as possible – even accounting for the odd (ok, frequent) client meltdown.

So why do agencies still struggle so much with planning?

You’d think that we would have a good grasp on it by now given how crucial it is to the execution of client jobs.

The biggest issue is often that forecasting is as much an art as it is a science.

A team may think a project will take them two hours to do and logically that might make sense, but there is no accounting for creativity and when it will strike. An idea that comes in the shower might take you five minutes to flesh out, but you’ll be damned if the team can think of a single idea during the morning brainstorm.

So people rely on their memory of how long similar projects took and their experience with other activities. And that’s where problems crop up.

Not only do memories fade but as an industry we are facing challenges and changes never seen before – so how can we plan for them?

The answer lies in technology.

More specifically, an agency management system with comprehensive resourcing and planning capabilities.

Using technology to resource, plan and budget activities means that projects are tracked and monitored in real time. Any issues can be identified and rectified immediately so there are no surprises at the end of the week.

Additionally, a data bank is built up which can track projects over months and years – historical data can then be reviewed to identify patterns and help inform forecasting.

There will always be surprises in the creative industry but it’s an agency’s ability to reduce these surprises, be agile and responsive in dealing with them and see into the future, that will determine its success when it comes to forecasting and capacity planning.

A good agency management system provides the tools, it’s just a matter of establishing how best to use it and leveraging the data, insight and forethought it provides.