My experience in various studio management roles and later operations taught me it doesn’t matter how big or small your agency is; besides running a profitable studio, you will also be expected to be all things to all people and your feet are unlikely to touch the ground for more than two minutes at any given moment.
This is why a solid infrastructure is your best friend and can mean the difference between leaving work with a smile on your face or a massive headache. Here are my five top tips:-
Ensure your team have the necessary tools to do the job; nothing worse for a designer than a Mac with insufficient memory that keeps crashing ahead of a tight deadline. This leads to frustration, missed deadlines and will impact your profit margin.
2. File storage
Get a pre-defined file structure in place for all projects files; if your team are unable to quickly locate job assets, it will cost your agency money. A good example of this would be Date > Client name > Job number/name. This also makes your annual archiving a less daunting task. A shared drive on a rock solid internal server will minimise downtime from service dropout.
3. Organisational Chart
It is important that everyone knows who is responsible for what and who reports to whom. A transparent chain of command makes communication more efficient, which in turn makes your agency more efficient (and profitable). It’s particularly important that your Project/Account Managers are reliably communicating client feedback to your creatives; poor communication makes more work for everyone.
4. Studio workflow
Develop a considered and practical process for managing jobs in-house; it should be simple but structured. Think about what happens once a new project comes into the studio; how does this get communicated to the studio? Don’t forget the number one thing that frustrates creatives; a job without a brief. The brief should clearly define the project expectations and constraints (description, budget, deadline etc). Consider introducing job management software; this will help with the structure and management of workflow as well as providing a central go to place for all concerned with that job.
5. The right team
Having the right team in place is the deal breaker for any agency; for example a good digital project manager can mean the difference between a website build running to schedule and within budget (increased profit margins), to it losing you lots of money.
Studio Management is all about the behind the scenes stuff with none of the glamour of pitch winning and client schmoozing; but if you can make the studio the most productive it can be, with the least amount of pain to your team, then that is certainly something.