The 4 Best Tools to Speed Up Your Agency’s Workflow

Are you getting headaches from the intern processes and the complicated software solutions of your agency? Do you have the feeling that there are new workflows, which will achieve better results?

Then it’s time to think outside the box and take the initiative within your agency. But that’s easier said than done:

  • There are countless tools.
  • The effort to change is great.
  • Most importantly, your team needs to be convinced that the benefit is worth the effort.

In this article, we’ll show you the solution to these challenges and present you with four tools that perfectly complement each other.

So Many Tools, so Many Choices

Since there are so many software solutions for ad agencies, how are you supposed to maintain an overview? Well, that’s why we’ve split up this chapter into four categories of the creative working process. For each part, we’re going to show you one competent tool.

Asana

1. Asana

Category: Project management

Asana is software that manages your projects and tasks at the same time. It helps you create and delegate tasks, set deadlines, and write comments. Also, you’re notified of your project’s current progress. Besides saving you a lot of time, you always stay up-to-date, and your team is able to work more productively.

Asana Dashboard

1.1. How to Improve Your Agency’s Workflow with Asana

Case Study:
Let’s assume that you work as a project manager in an advertising agency. You’re trying to communicate your weekly goals, but you need to be able to send status updates and interim reports. And an image for a campaign briefing is in the wrong format.

Scenario A: Communicating Your Weekly Goals

Problem

The administration of weekly goals is causing you to lose a lot of time because you have to discuss everything with your team leader, Nik. And you need to set up meetings to discuss them.
Für den Teamleiter steigt der Aufwand zusätzlich, weil er sich darum kümmern muss, die Informationen zusammenzufassen, weiterzuleiten und anzupassen.
The effort increases for the team leader since he is responsible for collecting, forwarding and adapting the information.

Solution without Asana

  1. Every team member sends an email to Nik with the arranged structure. The cutoff time is Monday at 11 a.m.
  2. Nik waits until he has received the complete weekly plan and adds his notes.
  3. Afterwards, he bundles all the weekly goals and sends an email to the entire team.
  4. Additionally, he forwards this mail to his supervisor.
  5. On Friday, the entire team meets for an hour to discuss their weekly goals.

Solution with Asana

  1. All team members add their most important tasks to the project Kanban calls “Weekly Goals”. That way, everyone keeps an overview of the previous week and all the completed tasks of the past. If there are any uncertainties, you can directly commented on the tasks in Asana.

Tim saved with Asana: 50 minutes

Scenario B: Status Updates and Interim Reports

Problem
Since your boss Dominik has an appointment with a client, he wants to be updated about the current status of the Facebook campaign.

Solution without Asana

  1. Dominik calls you and demands a status update.
  2. You open your email program to look for the interim report he hast sent to the advertising manager last week .
  3. You inform your boss about the current status.
  4. Your chef thanks you and asks you to send her the relevant numbers via email.
  5. You send her an email with the required data.

 

Solution with Asana

  1. Dominik gets all the relevant information from the client’s Asana board.

Time saved with Asana: 10 minutes

Scenario C: Wrong File Format at the Campaign Briefing

Problem

Your client’s display images don’t have the right format for Facebook ads.

Solution without Asana

  1. The advertising manager informs you about the wrong format via email.
  2. You call the graphic department to find out who’s available today.
  3. You forward the email to the graphic artist.
  4. The graphic artist sends you a Dropbox link to the edited image.
  5. You forward the image to the advertising manager.

 

Solution with Asana

  1. The advertising manager creates an Asana task for the graphic artist containing the information about the format and sets a deadline for today at 5 p.m.
  2. The graphic artist sees the task and attaches the correct image directly to it, which he can now check off.

Time saved with Asana: 5 minutes

1.2. Summary

The integration of Asana is saving companies time in a significant way. Responsibilities are clearly distributed, and there are fewer things to inquire about. Therefore, no task will be forgotten.
Depending on the team member’s individual experience, the duration of initial training is between 10 minutes and 2 hours long.

1.3. Helpful Features

  • Turn emails into Asana tasks by forwarding them to x@mail.asana.com.
  • Use Kanban boards for a quick project overview
  • To notify people, add a comment that’s addressed to them.
  • Automatically sort tasks according to their deadlines.

1.4. Pricing

It’s free for up to 15 team members. See the pricing page.

1.5. Alternatives

Toggl

2. Toggl & Asana

Category: Time Recording & Invoice

While using different kinds of software, the interplay between them is essential. To record your time and create subsequent bills, you can connect Toggl and Asana. The connection makes it possible to manage your time and directly records it in Asana, which saves you a lot of time and simplifies the process.

2.1. Time Recording & Invoicing in 2 Scenarios

Case Study: 

You’re a project manager, and you negotiated a framework contract with your client. You can create monthly calculations for her, but you have to stay within a budget. If so, you might forget to track the time , or you could have to justify the time you worked if your client asks.

Scenario A: Forgetting to Track the Time

Problem
The graphic artist forgets to log his hours at the end of the day.

Solution without Toggl & Asana

  1. While reviewing the invoice, you notice that the graphic artist has booked an unrealistically small amount of time.
  2. You call him and ask about it.
  3. The graphic artist vaguely remembers the situation and gives you an estimated effort of around 8 minutes.
  4. You have no choice but to accept the estimate and add a rough task description, even though you don’t really know exactly what the graphic artist did.

 

Solution with Toggl & Asana

  1. The graphic artist works with Asana every day and is used to starting the tracker on any task. As the project manager, you have an overview of his effort and the description of the tasks. With one click, you can create bills via Toggl. The employee’s hourly fee is automatically calculated.

Time saved with Toggl & Asana: ~ 30 minutes

Scenario B: Justifying Your Time to the Client

Problem
Your client is calling because she’s unable to comprehend the hours logged on the latest bill.

Solution without Toggl & Asana

  • You explain why you logged those hours.
  • If your client asks for more specifics, you can only tell her that you’re going to discuss the situation with your supervisor.

 

Solution with Toggl & Asana

  • You open the project overview in Asana and are able to give the client a qualified statement about each task. The commentary in the history tells you which problems occurred during a task, and why the question came up.

Benefit of Toggl & Asana: Your tasks and their history are clearly documented, so you can give your client an accurate explanation at any time.

2.2 Summary

With the integration of Toggl and Asana, the recording of time is much more intuitive.
Even in retrospect, the steps and obstacles of single tasks can easily be examined. Thanks to the direct connection to Asana via Chrome plugin, there’s no need to use two tool interfaces to manage your timelog.

2.3 Helpful Features

  • Asana records time with one click.
  • Get an automatic, clear report of billable time and team progress.
  • Has a simple export function for XLS, CSV, and PDF files.
  • Toggl has direct billing.

2.4. Pricing

Free for up to 5 team members. See the pricing page.

2.5. Alternatives

Filestage

3. Filestage

Category: Coordination and Approval
Filestage is a web application for ad agencies to share and approve media files.
You’re able to share and comment on videos, designs, and documents, and share them with your clients and coworkers. They can mark their change requests directly in the file.

Filestage usage

3.1. Coordination with Filestage in 3 Scenarios

Case Study:

You are directly responsible for your client and permanently maintain contact with him. During a project, you encounter high standards, and you need to hand over project leadership and contradict client feedback.

Scenario A: High Project Standards

Problem
To achieve high quality, several people need to arrange meetings with each other and communicate change requests.

Solution without Filestage
You send an email with the request “Please Give Feedback” to several clients.
One colleague schedules an appointment in your calendar to discuss the project on an individual basis.
Another coworker replies via email.
A third coworker directly comes to your desk and verbally delivers his feedback.

Solution with Filestage
You send a link of the project to your coworkers, so they can review it. You receive bundled feedback from various people on one platform. Since everyone can see everyone else’s comments, certain points can be picked up on, and misunderstandings have the chance to be clarified.

Benefit of Filestage: Better project results, thanks to mutual corrections and approval.

Scenario B: Handing Over Project Leadership

Problem
Due to restructuring or your project leader being sick, the project leadership is taken over by another coworker.

Solution without Filestage
The handover is time-consuming, since information and communication with the customer is scattered among several inboxes.

Solution with Filestage
All your reviews are on one single platform, including the access to earlier versions and comments.

Time saved with Filestage: 20 minutes

Scenario C: Statements Contradict Each Other

Problem
You receive contradicting feedback, which has been attached to an email as a comment on a PDF file.

Solution without Filestage
You call your contact person and explain that a coworker disagrees with a certain point.
Your client discusses the issue with her coworker.
She calls you back.
After finding the relevant change requests, you explain the situation via email as diplomatically as possible.

Solution with Filestage
Everyone from the client’s side is able to see each other’s comments and correct each other accordingly.

Time saved with Filestage: 30 minutes

3.2. Summary

Filestage can be used for internal and external coordination and approvals. Integrating a new tool into the external customer collaboration is a big step for ad agencies, since no one intends to upset their customers. That’s why these kinds of precautions usually aren’t taken.

If you decide to use Filestage internally, you can save a lot of time and achieve better project results. Due to the integrated feedback process, you always have an overview of who’s content with the project, and you’re able to make the right decisions at the right time.

3.3. Helpful Features

  • Visual comments right in the image, video with timeframe, and PDF annotation. No signup needed for reviewers
  • Versioning (e.g., to correctly bill correction loops)
  • Automatic to-do list generated from the comments

3.4. Pricing

Free data storage up to 1 GB. See the pricing page.

3.5. Alternatives

Slack

 

4. Slack

Category: Intern communication

Slack is chat software, which has been gaining a lot of popularity during the past few years. Compared to conventional chat programs, Slack is all about integration of other applications.For instance, you can directly create an Asana task via Slack or a built-in Toggl time- tracking button.

slack_product

4.1. Internal Communication with Slack in 2 Scenarios

Case Study:

As a project manager in an advertising agency, you’re usually occupied with your clients and projects. However, you don’t find out that much from other teams at the weekly agency meeting. In the everyday life of an agency, you frequently encounter a lack of transparency among teams, as well as too many internal emails.

Scenario A: Lack of Transparency among Teams

Problem
You don’t really know what your coworkers from other teams are doing, because it isn’t necessarily relevant to your work. Nevertheless, a regular update would have a positive impact on your work environment and the transparency of your company.

Solution without Slack
You occasionally talk to your coworkers from other teams.

Solution with Slack
You read the other team’s Slack channel.

Benefits of Slack: The transparency increases for every team member, and important information can be found within the process without any disruption.

Scenario B: Too Many Internal Emails

Problem
The email postbox easily gets chaotic because many internal affairs are communicated via email.

Solution without Slack

  1. The most important information is discussed in a weekly team meeting.
  2. Everything else is set aside because you don’t want to send an email to all the employees and fill up their inboxes.

 

Solution with Slack
Your Slack account is split up into several subject areas. You select the appropriate channel and share the link.

Benefit of Slack: No one is interrupted during work, and they can look at the content when they have time. Plus, the postbox won’t be overfilled.

4.2. Summary

Slack reduces the internal email communication and the number of meetings, which has a positive impact on the transparency among the team and the cohesion among the coworkers. Here’s a report based on surveys about the ways Slack helps teams during their work routines.

4.3. Helpful Features

  • Distribute communication by channels, which can be created, joined, or quit by each team member.
  • Mention people in channels to notify them.
  • To give a more personal touch to the conversation, react to messages with emoticons

4.4. Pricing

Free plan with a searchable archive of up to 10,000 latest messages. See the pricing page.

4.5. Alternatives

Every week, ad agencies lose a lot of precious time due to inefficient workflows, which can get quite frustrating and damaging for your work. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Handled properly, processes can save you time, boost up your motivation and improve your work’s quality.

Most ad agencies are afraid of ditching their current ineffective agency software, even though they’re aware that they’re not the optimal solution. Nevertheless, there are plenty of good reasons, starting with the already established workflow over to all the data stored and managed with the software.

In our team, we actively use Asana, Filestage and Slack. Toggl isn’t necessary for us, since we don’t have any projects with extern clients. Nevertheless we’ve seen the combination of Toggl and Asana used successfully in several ad agencies. If you have any questions about software solutions or workflow issues, don’t hesitate to contact us at tobias.brockow@filestage.io or give us a call at +49 711 96897090.

With a lot of passion and interest for creative writing and digital media, she always tries to learn new things every day.

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