⚙️ The Agency Process and Operations Conference

Are you on a journey to improve your agency’s process and operations?
Join us for a day of inspiring talks and case studies, to help you decide what will help you put your best foot forward in 2024.

Tuesday 11th June 2024 – 9.30am to 5pm
The British Library, Kings Cross

The past four years have made agencies look hard at their business: specifically, what they’re putting in vs what they’re getting out.

Many have realised they’re tired of ‘bobbing along’ – and instead want to set sail for where the real bounty is. 

Everywhere you look agencies are transforming.

  • They’re rethinking how they do things – as well as what they do and who they do it for.
  • They’re streamlining their processes (and slashing bloat) to focus on areas where humans add value.
  • Going back to basics and setting new standards (and expectations) for how to operate, innovate, and solve problems.

The agency world is changing fast. We’re here to make sure you’re not just keeping up – but leading the charge.

At Clockwork, we’re gathering the brightest minds in agency ops to share insights on innovative ways of working, streamlining your agency, motivating teams through difficult times – and helping people understand the importance of what you do. 

Join us for a day where you can learn from – and be inspired by – other agency leaders who are making their agencies run smoother.

Meet other people improving how their agency runs

Clockwork is a day that will help you get inspired, and meet other agency process and operations people that you can learn from.

We blend interactive talks and group discussion.

  • We dot you around the venue so you can interact – and we mix up the groups so you meet different people.
  • We poll you before the event to see what you want to talk about.
  • We make sure all the talks are original and interesting. We facilitate questions and reflections throughout.

It’s aimed at agency leaders and their process or operations leaders – but anybody can come.

  • Our venue is the Knowledge Centre at The British Library. We have the entire building, so you will explore the venue interacting with different agency leaders. We mix up the groups so you meet different people.
  • We poll you before the event to see what you want to talk about.
  • We make sure all the talks are original and interesting. We facilitate questions and reflections throughout.

Five Rooms of Learning and Inspiration

Bronte Room
Dickens Room
Elliot Room
Chaucer Room

Who you’ll hear from…

The Importance of Tool Consolidation

When our agencies grow, we may also outgrow the tools that were good enough in the past.

There comes an inevitable point in an agency’s growth when having your data (mostly) siloed across multiple tools – and having to manually move or analyse information – becomes a bottleneck to your productivity. 

That’s where Scoro comes in. 

“What this platform does is consolidate what all those tools are doing – replacing those silos,” says Scoro’s Harv Nagra. “Moving more of the workflow into a single platform can unlock huge gains in efficiency, accuracy and visibility.“

👉 At Clockwork, Harv will take us through how Scoro can help bring ease and harmony to your tech stack, as well as your agency’s operations. [Read more] 

Could You Be Getting in the Way of Your Own Profitability?

Over the years, Manish Kapur, creative operations consultant, has seen more than enough agencies descend into chaos – and he is determined to make sure others don’t.

As an ops guy, I don’t like processes, but I love best practices,” says Manish. 

“Operations is not black and white, operations is grey – and the best people in Ops are the ones that are super flexible.”

Manish says this is just one example of where agencies go wrong when it comes to their operations.

What’s worse is when leaders think bringing in a new tool will automatically fix any inefficiencies.

(Spoilers: it won’t.)

“Normally, when you’ve got a particular problem, it’s actually a lot broader than you think it is,” says Manish. “Most agencies will try to mask chaos and inefficiency by bringing a new tool. They’ll say, ‘We need to solve our operations, so we’re going to bring in an agency system. But it doesn’t work, because it’s an add on. It’s just masking the core problem.”

👉 At Clockwork, Manish will take us through the small mistakes agencies often make when addressing problems within their operations – that can soon build up into a much bigger obstacle, preventing you from scaling. [Read more]

This session is for: Agency Leaders who are looking to scale, and operations leaders who struggle to get others to listen.

Why You’re Struggling to Motivate Your Team
– and How to Fix It

So, your team is unmotivated. At first, you’re annoyed: ‘Why don’t they care as much as me?!’ 

But then you think about it. And you know, deep down, there is a deeper issue at play that you’re not addressing.

More and more agencies are facing this problem in 2024. External factors are seeping in and it’s affecting productivity. So how do you fix it? 

The important thing is transparency,” says Claire Quanash, founder of Quanash Consulting. “Be clear in terms of where things are and what it is that’s being done to fight whatever the battle or challenge is.”

If your team isn’t motivated, it’s likely because they don’t have a reason to be. Do they feel respected? Do they have a reason to care beyond the paycheque?

“Give trust and respect to be able to deal with important information,” says Claire. “Because being too closed about things doesn’t help anybody. You have to foster that from early on, so when the difficult times do come in, people have got that element of trust already”

👉 At Clockwork, Claire will be taking us through some of the mistakes she’s seen agencies make when it comes to staff motivation – and will explore the things you can do to set your employees up for success. [Read more] 

This session is for: Line managers, senior leadership, ‘people’ people – and anyone struggling with team motivation.

How Standardising Our Processes Reduced Team Overwhelm and Increased Productivity

Ryan McNamara joined Rise at Seven last year as Head of Operations. With four offices across two continents and 80+ staff – he had his work cut out for him. But the first thing to address was how the agency managed their time and resource.

“When I arrived, the schedules were there, but they weren’t really viewed,” says Ryan. “People just knew they were on a project and then they would timesheet against it. So time sheets were reflective of what was in their schedules, even if that wasn’t actually what people were doing.”

What’s more, a lot of the team were preoccupied with things they had little control over – like utilisation targets and gross margin.

“I don’t really want the people doing the work worried about utilisation of the work at all, I just want them to be worried about doing the best job they possibly can with the time they’ve got to do something. So we stripped that out.”

Now, utilisation is the SMT’s responsibility – and only their responsibility. Ryan’s next challenge was communicating that to team leaders, and what it meant for them.

“It feels like we’re doing more work now – and more billable work – than we were with 90-100 people. We’re not running as hot, things aren’t running too crazy, and it’s simply because we’re using our time efficiently,” Ryan says.

👉 At Clockwork, Ryan will take us through how standardising the agency’s processes has reduced team overwhelm AND increased productivity across the board. [Read more]

This session is for: Agencies struggling with team overwhelm, leaders looking to increase productivity, and managers whose teams are stressed when, on paper, they shouldn’t be.

How We Simplified Performance Management Into a Framework

Agencies are obsessed with innovation and change. Their obsession, however, can often lead to overcomplications. 

At least, it did for Sian Eddy, head of operations at Modern

One of the problems they faced at Modern was around performance management. Their staff were engaged, but that didn’t necessarily translate to performance. 

Enter their home-brewed performance management framework: Performance at Modern (Pam, for short).

“We introduced Pam to bring clarity and transparency into our performance management processes,” explains Sian. “It’s designed to directly link an individual’s performance with their pay, aiming to motivate and reward our team members fairly and transparently.”

So what exactly is the framework?

  1. Set objectives – Each employee collaborates with their manager to set clear, measurable objectives that encompass both task-related outcomes and behavioural expectations.
  2. Define roles and expectations – Ensure every role has a detailed job description so each employee understands their role.
  3. Performance reviews – Employees undergo quarterly performance reviews, where their achievements and challenges in their objectives are discussed.
  4. Continuous feedback and reward – Continuous feedback mechanisms,  facilitated through regular check-ins or digital tools.
  5. Adjust and align – ‘Pam’ then identifies opportunities for skill enhancement and career advancement, aligning individual aspirations with business needs.

👉 At Clockwork, Sian will delve into how Modern’s new performance management framework has changed things for the better and set their team and business along the right path – could it work for you as well? [Read more]

This session is for: Leaders with unmotivated teams, or anyone looking to increase performance (and enthusiasm) within their agency.

How to Balance Process and Creativity

Agencies are constantly wrestling with processes. 

Many think that the minute they have to abide by certain rules, their creativity will be impeded.

Rob Sayles says: that doesn’t have to be the case.

“An agency will go and buy a tool or hire a consultant, and believe that then dictates the process,’ says Rob, agency operations consultant. “It works for 80% of the projects, 80% of the deliverables, and 80% of the people, but… it misses a trick.” 

So how should you go about creating these processes? And how do you make people stick to them?

“The best way is to understand and respecting the different ways in which different people work, and then designing a system around them.”

👉 At Clockwork, Rob will dive deep into how you can create operational processes and workflows for your team without causing detriment to their creativity. If you’ve been straddling this problem, come along to hear what Rob has to say. [Read more]

This session is for: Leaders with teams that are resistant to processes, data-driven operations folk, and creative founders.

How We’re Using AI to Make Our Operations More Efficient

Radial Path spent 2023 getting their house in order – leading to one of their most profitable years to date. Now, in 2024, they’re focusing on growth and innovation, with AI firmly secured in their tool belt.

COO Syamsul Rozmey has always had a vision to get his agency’s ops running like clockwork – not just day-to-day delivery, but every area of the business. Then when AI tech started to evolve, he knew this could be his golden ticket. 

“The first thing I did was assess the entire workflow of our company day to day and look at where we could improve efficiency,” he says. “Then we came up with a plan to test multiple tools to ingrain into our product services.”

“What we’re trying to encourage now is, if you have any problems, use an LLM to help you problem solve.”

👉 At Clockwork, Syamsul will take us through his journey of implementing AI tech to help increase productivity and operational efficiency – and how this has helped propel his agency’s growth beyond the industry average. If you’re struggling to get your team on board with this kind of change, Syam’s story is worth listening to. [Read more]

This session is for: Agencies who are currently ‘getting their house in order’ or anyone interested in automated operations and AI-powered processes.

How Should Your Agency Be Structured?

If a city wishes to remain intact then one thing needs to be solidly planned out: its infrastructure. 

The same goes for agencies. You need to ensure you have structures in place so that you don’t crumble in the future.

At Clockwork, we’ll be bringing in three voices from different types of agencies to discuss how they’re planning their structures and processes for the future.

Meet your panellists:

  1. Liz Walker – commercial director at DistinctlyThey structured their team with the POD model, and built out their senior leadership teams with experienced people who could hit the ground running.
  1. Cat Kevern – director of Electric CatElectric Cat is made up of mostly freelancers, and with that comes a bit of a problem: how do you properly plan for the future?
  1. Eleanor Neilson – joint managing director at Dynam About a year ago, Dynam made the decision to become employee-owned . It was a brave decision, one that would change the trajectory of the agency and help sustain them.

👉 If you’re curious about how your agency should be structured in the future and the different ways in which others are doing it, this discussion could offer you the answers you’re looking for. [Read more]

This session is for: Agencies who are unsure how to adapt to to industry changes, businesses who are struggling with managing freelancers, anyone interested in Employee Ownership, and leaders looking to develop their senior leadership and management teams.

How To Get Your Team on Board With Change

When you’re in an agency working with multiple clients at a time, it’s important to have some stability in place to nurse the constant changes for your team.

Having taken a course on change management, Nine van Strydonck, head of operations at NOVOS, says that operations managers need to think about these three steps:

  1. The Head – “If you want to introduce a change, you need to ask how that will affect people; do they understand the why and the what behind the decision?”
  2. The Heart – “How will they emotionally react? You need to understand the reasons people fear change. It’s addressing that element.”
  3. The Hands – “This is the practical side. What do they need? What documentation or education do they need to take the change on board?”

“We’ve standardised Clickup across the agency, and it was very difficult. When we first began, I prepared a deck for the entire company explaining it all; the response to that was fairly positive. But with that being said, I’ve since learned to gather more feedback and not just assume.”

👉 At Clockwork, Nine will be delving into how she’s managed to get her team on board with changes at NOVOS, as well as explaining some of the processes she’s put in place to help. [Read more]

This session is for: Agencies who are facing friction from their team when adapting to industry changes, as well as anyone looking to implement new changes within their agency.

Agency Operations Surgery

During the event, we’ll have FIVE operations consultants on hand to help you solve your agency’s people and process problems in our ‘Ops Surgery’. To submit your agency to be spotlighted beforehand fill in this form.

This session is for: Agencies who are currently stuck or stagnant – whether you have an idea what might be causing the problem or not, get stuck in!

Clockwork – FAQs 🤖

Q: What actually happens on the day?

We start the event at 9.30am, so try to arrive by 9am.

The day’s format is pretty simple: you will spend some time hearing from guests with interesting stories that you can learn from, and you will also spend some time in small groups discussing your journey with like-minded agency leaders.

The event is hosted by an Agency Hackers facilitator who makes sure that everybody with something interesting to say gets heard. (We poll attendees before the event, so we know who to ‘pick on’ on the day.)

We will serve tea, coffee and a great lunch to keep you going throughout the day.

Q: Who will I hear from? Who are the speakers?

The people you’ll hear from are all agency leaders with interesting stories to tell about agency process or operations.

We also decide who to spotlight based on the information we capture in the weeks before. (Look out for our emails!)

We will publish the line-up a few weeks before, but mostly we hope that you will trust us to select interesting folk from our audience. We find that the people who choose to attend our events are overwhelmingly on fascinating journeys that will resonate with you.

Also, the ‘talks’ aren’t really linear presentations. They’re more like structured case studies, with lots of questions and reflections from the audience.

You could potentially call them ‘fireside chats’, but these are not rambling cosy conversations. They are planned and structured . We put a lot of work into researching our guests, out of respect for your time.

Q: Who can attend?

This event is mainly for agency leaders and operations leaders – but it’s potentially of interest to anybody interested in making their agency run letter.

Basically, anybody can attend if you think it looks up your street.