How Documenting Processes Can Help Your Digital Agency Scale More Effectively

If you’re running a small creative (and/or) digital marketing firm, chances are you’re spending most of your time drumming up new business and delivering results for your clients. The fact that you excel at both of these things is likely what gave you the confidence to embark on your own venture in the first place.

While focusing on what you do best seems like the best path for business growth, simply generating additional revenue won’t enable your business to efficiently scale. In order to take your business to the next level, you need to build, implement, and document efficient and repeatable processes. The hard part is, many leaders struggle to find the time.

Many times we’ve seen solid, high-performing digital agencies struggling with growing pains. When it comes time to effectively scaling the organization, many agencies simply fall short. Most of the time, it’s not due to a lack of talent, effort, or an inability to win business. It’s because setting the foundation for growth needs to take place in the company’s early stages, and far too often leaders of young agencies wait too long to document processes and develop training. 

The Importance Of Establishing And Documenting Processes For Your Agency

Without creating, implementing, and documenting well-defined and effective processes that govern the various aspects of your business, it’s really difficult to achieve any form of consistency. 

If you don’t have a specific process around client deliverables and results, then your work is likely to vary from one client to the next. If you don’t have a documented process around interviewing or hiring, you may not be consistently vetting your candidates, which could lead to hiring the wrong talent. When employees don’t have standard processes or training programs to follow during onboarding, it makes it difficult and increasingly frustrating for them to do their jobs, which in turn, will make it more difficult for you to retain them.

A lack of processes means a lack of efficiency and repeatable success. While you might be able to get by when your company is small and you’re only managing a handful of clients, your lack of documented processes will only become more detrimental as your business grows.  Process documentation is like a trellis – a framework on which the plant can intentionally grow.  A trellis guides the growing plant – showing it healthy directions in which to develop – while not leaving growth to random chance.  The result is a well-trained plant that shows beautifully and functions in a healthy manner.

How To Start Documenting Processes And Developing Training

So how exactly can a digital agency document processes and establish effective training programs? How do business leaders justify the prioritization of process building over activities that can be tied directly to revenue? The truth is, establishing processes doesn’t happen overnight, but getting started is usually just a matter of prioritization. Below are some steps that you can start taking today that will ultimately help you start building the right framework.

Set Aside Blocks Of Time

Once business owners understand established processes are essential for growth, they can begin to prioritize it. This might mean creating blocks of time throughout the week or month, for both yourself and your team to work on process documentation. This time should be solely dedicated to process creation and documentation. To be effective, you’ll need to ensure all other work is temporarily set aside to eliminate any distractions.

Prioritize Your Highest Impact

You and your team should be constantly thinking about what processes are most important and prioritize them appropriately. This will provide you guidance on where to focus your time and resources. What are the highest impact areas of your business? What processes have the most impact on revenue?

Each team member should come prepared with their top priorities for processes that need to be documented. In order to prioritize processes, identify your organization’s biggest weaknesses and determine where documented processes will generate the biggest return. It’s likely not feasible to begin documenting processes for every workflow across your business, so you’ll want to start in areas that will generate the most impact.

Select Your Medium

When going through your agency’s internal workflows, consider the best method for communicating the step-by-step instructions to someone who doesn’t know the job. Think about who needs to be involved in the development of the process documentation. Consider how the information will be best communicated and absorbed — whether it be text, graphics, or video. It’s usually best to come to a consensus as a team.  Using online resources like Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox to house your repository will ensure users get the latest version of a document or training instruction. 

Effectively Train New Hires

Building training programs is your opportunity to teach new hires how to perform work in the manner in which you’d like it to be done. In other words, it’s your opportunity to set standards and expectations (for turnaround, quality checks, cross-functional teamwork, etc.) around how work is performed at your firm. It’s these standards and expectations that often set your business apart from the competition, which is why it’s important for them to be thoroughly documented. Your processes are your company’s own intellectual property, so it’s important to treat them as such.

Training programs not only help ensure work is done consistently, but it helps new hires get up to speed quickly, which in turn makes them better able to perform their responsibilities – contributing to revenue production sooner.

Enhance Your Firm’s Valuation

Looking longer-term, if an opportunity arises to sell the agency or merge with a larger partner, having well-documented processes will aid in achieving a higher valuation – putting more dollars in your pocket.  It signals to the new buyer that your team is well-trained and knows the right way to do things – resulting in repeatable successes.  This will happen whether you stay with the firm or retire, or move out on a new venture.

Hire A Consultant

Building, implementing, and documenting processes is no easy task. It’s also not a one-and-done project. Processes must constantly evolve as you and your organization learn how to execute your business objectives in the most efficient ways possible. As a result, process building and documentation needs to be an ongoing part of your agency’s strategy. For this reason, digital agencies frequently turn to experienced consultants to help them build out proven processes that directly result in increased performance and efficiency.

One of the main advantages of working with a consultant is that they are going to come to the table with a solid understanding of what works and what doesn’t work. Good consultants will have a strong track record of helping businesses drive revenue, so they’re able to draw from their experience to guide your business towards the most positive outcomes. They’ve helped other, similar-sized businesses tackle the same challenges facing your organization and can help you overcome them as well. A consultant will be able to help you document processes that will allow your business to effectively grow and scale for years to come. 

If you’re looking for a strong business consultant partner to help your digital agency scale, contact Lilly Consulting Group today. Our team of experts has helped agencies of all sizes overcome obstacles, increase revenue, and ultimately meet their strategic objectives.

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