Proper processes (that people understand and follow) are the difference between running a business you love, and having a job you can never quit.
Gray MacKenzie’s business Zenpilot helps agencies automate their operations. Gray set up a project management software for agencies but found that his company ‘were actually spending more of their time consulting with agencies to build their own processes.’ So now they ‘help agencies with three things:
- Getting the right processes in place for the services they offer and the clients they are servicing.
- Helping clients migrate to Click-Up, the main project management platform that they prefer people to implement.
- Helping the whole team build healthy habits and agree on expectations around how projects should be managed.’
Gray discusses the importance of understanding the client journey, ‘knowing where your agency fits along their roadmap and what you will be offering them during this time.’ Setting expectations with clients is key, what will happen at each step of the process and why. Gray suggests everyone has a process, ‘but the more polished it looks the more a client will trust it.’ He also explains his experiences when exploring the process with clients. He found that if the roadmap was explained in detail, the client was more likely to pay more to get to the end result faster.
When explaining how to transition from the processes that clients see to those that are happening in the backend, Gray notes it is incredibly important for the processes to live where the work is being done, i.e in a project management platform.
Gray suggests that when building processes from the beginning ‘it is helpful to think of agencies as having three major components:
– Growth: The marketing and sales departments
– Delivery: Client Servicing
– Operations: HR, Culture, Legal, Finance, Operational’
When working with an agency, Zen Pilot will get them to list everything they provide as an agency, at which point most agencies will become overwhelmed and ignore the list until the next quarter. As such, Zen Pilot suggest first building a Process Prioritisation Worksheet, ‘which grades process on how frequently they happen, how complex they are and how painful that process currently is. From this list you can work out which frameworks need to be built first and then which processes need to be shared with the team.’
Gray suggests that ‘when starting out it can be useful to assign each team member one hour a week where they are either building processes into the PM system, or where they are training their team on these processes. Across a whole agency these hours can build up and change is visible within a few weeks.’
Gray describes process implementation as ‘an investment of time for a long-term return.’
‘Habits are just as important as using a tech system that works for you.’ Gray explains how ‘the whole system falls apart if all of the information is not input.’ He sets out some rules and habits that Zen Pilot implements when using PM software like Click-Up. These include:
– ‘If it is not in the system, it didn’t happen.’
– ‘Due dates matter.’
– ‘Track your time.’
– ‘It’s not personal.’
Gray is open to talk through anything that has been covered and you can find his website at www.zenpilot.com