One of the biggest challenges of running an agency is keeping the agency's resources (aka the employees) operating at peak performance for as much of the day as possible. Similar to any other manufacturing business, downtime is expensive for both the company and the employees. The longer an employee remains inactive, the lower the agency's average billable rate falls and the less satisfied employees are at their job. Nobody likes to be in limbo regarding their next assignment (or stuck waiting for someone else to finish their part of the current job) and most employees use that downtime to either look for another job or spend time on social media which generates little to no benefit for the employee or the agency.
What are the common causes of employee downtime?
Most downtime relates to either over-staffing or inefficient processes. The solve for over-staffing is either a reduction in staff (aka layoffs) or an increase in workload (the best option). Good talent is hard to find, so letting strong performers go due to lack of work might be setting the agency up for failure down the road. An alternative (unfortunately not one that helps with the average billable rate issue), is to keep those employees busy working on agency-focused projects.
The old adage; "the cobbler's children have no shoes" is particularly applicable to agencies that are so client and billable-focused that they neglect their own marketing, communications and strategies. Challenging employees with downtime to tackle these internal deliverables is a great way of keeping them busy and helping the agency continue to grow and attract strong talent and new clients.
If the employee downtime is being caused by inefficient processes, take a close look at your Agency Management Software. Resource Allocation is a challenge at any agency past a certain size which is why the leading AMS providers have leveraged automation to give Project Managers the help they need.
The best Project Managers know the strengths and weaknesses of their people which helps them figure out who to assign to what projects and estimate those projects accurately. Data sets like that are perfect for automation and systems like Advantage's AQUA software feature the ability for the software to recommend project resources based on factors like role, availability, existing workload, industry experience and seniority. Help like that can make the difference between employees effectively tasked on projects for which they have the right skill sets vs employees waiting around to be assigned to work because the PM is overloaded trying to make good decisions on who should work on what.
If the prevalent cause of downtime at your agency is team members waiting for work to reach their desk, consider implementing Agile techniques in the agency to put the production process on display through the use of Kanban Boards that allow every member to see exactly where a project is at a glance. That way, any confusion over who has the work and when they'll be moving that work forward is mitigated which enables those team members to manage their downtime more effectively either on another billable project or on something beneficial to the agency (as discussed earlier). If your Agency Management System doesn't offer you the ability to leverage Agile techniques and methodologies for your agency, you should consider one that does.
Advantage's AQUA system gives agencies a complete package of automation capabilities, Agile techniques and integration across competencies. It's the agency management system your agency needs to eliminate employee downtime and realize its full potential. Schedule a free online demo today.