There are definite benefits to using an integrated Agency Management System. Individual components, such as Accounting, Project Management and Media, are designed to seamlessly work together. This saves time and reduces the risk of human error when manually entering data from one system to another.
How to get started
Selecting an Agency Management System is an extremely important decision that requires careful consideration. Start the process by making a list of your basic needs. For example, do you need Accounting and Project Management features? Or do you need Media and Accounting? Then make a list of systems that fit these needs. Search the internet and ask seasoned employees what systems they have used in the past.
Next, determine the features you absolutely must have as well as those you want. Enlist your employees for input. This will help you formulate the questions to ask sales representatives from each company, and provide a benchmark to quickly eliminate systems that lack features you need.
Do the features fit your agency?
Now that you have your list, it’s time to dig deeper. Do the Project Management features fit into your agency’s workflow? For example, if you are an Agile agency, you’ll need tools such as Kanban Boards. Do you use a ratings system for broadcast media buys? Then you need broadcast scheduling features that integrate with the ratings system. Other features to consider are document uploads, custom forms, billing approval and communication abilities.
The system you use will hold all Accounting, Project Management and Media data. This information will give you actionable insights in the form of reports and dashboards. Be sure to ask about the reporting features available.
Show and Tell
Ask the short list of candidates to give you and key members of your staff a demo. Seeing system features in action will show the user interface and bring you closer to a decision. Give it your full attention. And don’t forget to ask lots of questions!
Cost vs Value
The most expensive things aren’t necessarily the best. On the other hand, going with the lowest bidder can lead to disappointment. The same holds true for Agency Management Systems. Instead of cost, think value. Will the integrated system pay for itself by saving employee hours and facilitating more accurate billing? How many existing systems will it replace, and how much money will that save you?
Is it Scalable?
You’re probably reading this because you suspect you’ve outgrown your current system. As your business expands, so should your Agency Management System. Ask your sales rep the how features will perform if your agency doubled, tripled or grew 10 times its current size. Can your current systems keep pace when you will need them the most?
Implementation and Training
Before your employees “go live” with a new system, it needs to be set up. Proper implementation is critical, so it helps if the company assists key members of your agency in customizing your database so it meets your unique needs. Once that is done, your employees need training so they can get the most out of the system. Ask about the implementation and training available.
This is one of the most overlooked considerations, but ongoing support is one of the most important. When you or a member of your team needs help, support is a lifeline. Find out the availability of both user and technical support. Ask these questions:
Do they have live support?
Do they limit the number of support calls?
Can anyone at your agency access support?
Do they understand the unique challenges of running an agency?
The bottom line
Do your homework, ask lots of questions and communicate your needs during the decision process. Once you’ve selected the best fit, it’s time to do the paperwork. Read the contract and be sure everything falls within your expectations. Don’t assume anything. Remember, this is a partnership; you and the company will benefit from ensuring that you understand the terms.
Advantage Software is perfect for full-service advertising agencies of all sizes, creative and production shops, in-house, public relations and marketing firms. Over 850 agencies use Advantage for Project Management, Accounting and Media. We build our software with the right mix of browser-based and other tools that maximize productivity, efficiency and profitability. This means something for every employee associate in every department. Find out how we can help you by contacting us for a demo. If you simply would like to learn more, sign up below for our free Newsletter.