By Mark van Leeuwen, CEO of VOGSY
TV show host Marie Kondo is hard not to like. As the planet’s foremost tidying expert, she gracefully applies her KonMari Method to rid lives of clutter and create happier existences from clarity. When it comes to technology, marketing and digital companies could use her. Today, there are thousands of marketing solutions, and at times, any agency, web dev or design shop can feel as if they own them all.
This, in the words of Ms. Kondo, does not “spark joy.”
As a business grows, there’s more to contend with – more staff, clients, billing, data and more. Some of this is obviously good, but with so much happening, it’s easy to lose visibility into data and resource availability. A big part of the problem is tech sprawl. Chances are your organization is struggling to manage tasks with apps like CRMs for opportunity tracking, tools for project management, resource management, finance systems - the list is constantly expanding.
It’s been called tooling spaghetti, and if you tried to map it out, it would be an ugly tangle. Yet, when it comes to running a firm, you’re likely still relying on spreadsheets and compiling data across all of these different systems. It’s manual, time-consuming, labor-intensive and prone to error. It also requires additional IT oversight and constant training - that means time and money.
Further, it creates information silos that make accurate, data-driven decisions close to impossible and impede effective team collaboration. There’s a sales and CRM silo, and one in finance for bookkeeping systems. Delivery and project management has one, too, never mind that employee time tracking is one unto itself. The pain points of the resulting siloed data are many.
Limited visibility means a lack of transparency versus insights that move a business forward. It results in inaccurate or delayed forecasting of demand, revenue and hiring, as well as poor resource allocation due to outdated data. Then, there are the hidden costs. Data discrepancies means quotes are slower to convert to cash. Tool fatigue can cause your team to use applications less. Personnel are required to support and troubleshoot tech. And tools that stack up increase the likelihood of unused subscriptions.
In a perfect world, we’d KonMari this mess – just cut through the tangle for a more peaceful existence – but joy doesn’t come so easy in the realm of marketing and digital. Most shops at this juncture are looking for the same thing – an effective single source of engagement. They want one platform to provide quote-to-cash functionality, a holistic view of every client engagement, along with a dashboard that produces critical, actionable insight into business health and profitability.
There are plenty of tools to help individual marketing pros do their job better, but is there one for the agency or shop as a whole?
Actually, there’s an entire category dedicated to helping service-based organizations, aptly named professional service automation (PSA). This approach can automate many business functions, free up staff on all levels, and generate greater internal awareness so efficiencies are increased.
PSA-oriented technology eliminates those disparate solutions – or provides one tool to keep everything tidy and joyful - enabling companies to integrate siloed information across CRMs, resource- and project planning tools, time tracking, finance systems, invoicing and other tools. Analysts at SPI found organizations with integrated solutions do better in all aspects of business because visibility increases performance, leading to a 31% increase in profitability.
As for PSA capabilities, the tools can simplify operations and drive profits in impressive ways, including real-time forecasting of profitability with insights into current and expected revenues as well as visibility and transparency for personnel utilization rates and availability, reducing over delivery. This helps increase efficiency, ensure delivery of projects on time and within budget, and improve productivity.
For owners and senior managers, this all translates into less time pulled into the inner workings of the business and more time working on the real business services. However, when considering a platform, be smart - a cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) model can scale with your growth and deploy and integrate easily. Also, look for PSA tools that are familiar and easy to use, this will ensure your staff will use them and your firm will benefit. Keep it simple and you’ll find a solution that will indeed spark joy.