The Difference Between a Process, a Policy, and a Procedure

Process versus procedure

We’ve all had that one time we are confused as to why our employees have failed to understand the instructions, we gave them.

Yes, I have given them clear steps.

Yes, I have demonstrated how to do it.

Why are they finding it hard to comply?

Your team may be unable to keep up because they are finding it hard to tell the difference between the rules to follow and the actions, they need to take to perform a task well.

Although these are both important for your agency to successfully deliver the desired outcome, it is still necessary to differentiate three elements essential to your business: policy, process, and procedure.

Organizations often mistake these three terms as being one and the same, but in reality, they are different tools with different definitions, applications, and documentation. In this article, we will discuss the distinctions, which are important to understand when researching and developing documentation for your organization. After reading, you will understand the key differences between a policy, process, and procedure. Let’s dive into it.

Business process definition

Process versus procedure

What are business processes? A business process is not only a single task; it is a high-level view of interrelated tasks done to produce a product or a service. It gives a big picture of the duties and assignments with the departments doing them. It serves as a connector to assignments done within an agency arm or even across several divisions across an agency.

Here are some process qualities: processes define “what to do” to complete a service or create a product in an organization. Usually, processes cross departments. Diagrams are sometimes created through process maps, which describe the points when and where a person in authority performs or approves the task. Process diagrams are work flowcharts that are graphical representations of the entire process flow. Processes also have a process map that bridges point A to point B and the people who control the action.

If the agency implements a process of delivering a product out of a business concept, it shows you that point A is the business concept while point B is the end product or service. It follows a detailed procedure that maps out what are the sub-processes you must do and the people or groups of people who will be functioning at a certain point for you to get from one point to another. Sometimes, the total process crosses department lines; however, they will always contain specific instructions on following the company’s strategic direction to get to the desired destination.

The total process converts input to output, covering each process step underneath it so that an employee knows what to expect from start to finish after a function has been activated. That way, they know the task has started or been completed already!

Understanding what a policy is

Process versus procedure

Most companies have a particular set of work instructions. They are defined as policies. These policies are business rules that align with the agency’s objectives, goals, and management philosophies.

Setting an agency policy demonstrates an organization’s best practice; without policies, the other two elements – the processes and procedures – will be affected. This set of regulations helps establish the company culture that all employees from each division or department will follow, no matter their rank. They also help create control points with which you can monitor the extent to which policies and procedures are being adhered to.

Business policies can be regarded as laws inside the agency because they build the framework from which an organization helps its team quickly learn about the company. Tasks, especially repetitive ones, be implemented in a more standardized manner. Unnecessary errors can be avoided because there is already a policy put down, and people act following it to ensure that the agency operates smoothly.

A distinct quality of a policy is that it will always let an agency understand its destination clearly. However, it will not specify the direction to take or how to get there.

Policies address related subject matter

An excellent example of a policy would be a data privacy policy. This policy is often included in an agency’s rulebook. It assures its clients that their records and transactions are kept private. It is also a policy to protect your team members, ensuring that the employees’ information security is maintained and safely kept.

The data privacy policy can be seen as a reflection of how the company’s culture prioritizes the preservation of confidentiality within its organizational structure and externally among its clients. It aligns with a company’s goal of safeguarding its reputation and building trust. Still, it does not specify who is responsible for its implementation or how it is executed.

Other policies that can be established are vacation policy, social media policy, and recruitment policy.

Policy versus procedure

Process versus procedure

On the other hand, procedures refer to detailed instructions on how to do tasks or perform a sub-process action. Procedures should be aligned with all business rules contained in the company’s policy.

Special procedure manuals give specific instructions on how to go from point A to point B, how employees will go to the next phase, or how they will know if the process is complete.

Procedure qualities: procedures define the steps

Procedures identify which step-by-step instructions are needed to support team members in carrying out specific work. It is also a way to empower them to take control over work instruction. Business procedures help you manage tasks more efficiently by delegating assignments to make the most of your time as your agency learns to follow and document industry specifics.

A more detailed procedure can even be established by creating a desk top procedure for easy accessibility to the different department lines. This documentation presents procedure components, the detailed procedure, and business rules.

Developing documentation requires understanding the process tasks, how to properly structure the document, and any other related subject matter. The content contained in the procedures document should identify policy and graphically display system instructions.

How does a policy differ from a procedure?

The key difference between policies and procedures is that procedures are steps to achieve a particular outcome, which can be as little as a single task or as big as a full-blown company process. In contrast, policies address the reason behind constructing each procedure.

The policy is the “why”– the foundation and rationality – while the procedure is the “how”, the agency’s compliance to the why, and the manner or method by which you systematically achieve the goal.

There is no specific procedure for each policy, but each of your procedures should align with the organization’s business policy to keep it in check and operational.

What about a business process vs. procedure?

Business processes are useful information for customers and employees to learn the workflow outline and identify the responsible decision-making body. The procedure then elaborates on the series of steps required by the details of activity within the process.

The employee promotion process, for example, is composed of several points to rising from a certain rank to another. It involves several people who perform a specific service (role or responsibility) – the employee, the immediate supervisor, and the senior management. It can include a few sub-processes like evaluation, training, submission of requirements, and employee and colleague interviews, to name a few.

The procedure under each step discusses each detail from filling out the application form, giving X number of hours to perform promotion-related tasks, attending which seminars, and waiting X number of days for the approving body to decide.

What are the benefits of knowing the definition of each element?

We have now defined each key element together with its qualities and purpose. By knowing the differences and similarities of each, an agency can create its own structure of policies, processes, and procedures to improve its productivity and efficiency.

It is also useful information that can guide point persons in handling resources and can be vital to enhancing employee and client systems. It plays an important role in training new employees and tenured employees to observe compliance.

Organizations can also build on their internal and external connections by polishing up their policies, processes, and procedures. Marketing strategies can be easily executed by properly explaining guidelines to boost customer relationships. Departments implement these elements with reporting and proper documentation for future data baseline and evaluation.

Giving and receiving input on completed guidelines can serve as feedback for employees’ performance and foster communication in finding areas for improvement in your agency.

Process versus procedure

Key Takeaway

An agency’s process, procedure, and policy are essential because they go hand in hand to make a task more manageable and transparent. When properly structured, they help ensure consistency and set industry standards, ultimately creating work stability in the organization. While a process describes the outline to meet the end goal specified by the policy, the procedure details the minute actions taken to complete it. Assessing and revisiting these elements improves the organization’s work and eliminates, if not reduces, inaccuracy in performing work.

If you still have difficulty differentiating these three essential elements in your agency, keep in mind that policy-process-procedure are like peas in a pod:

  • Policies are business rules and regulations set by the company to achieve its goals
  • Processes give directions to point persons or the various department lines based on the policies
  • Procedures detail step-by-step guides on how to perform the processes

While policies and procedures help establish control points and ensure consistency, procedures explain the exact steps to follow policy and procedure requirements.

Following your organization’s policy, process, and procedure makes it easy to connect points and identify functional areas as everything is properly structured. Understanding the distinction keeps you and your team well-informed and aligned with your organization’s objectives from Day 1 until project completion.

With ScaleTime you can take a step back and let your agency grow. We give you guidelines on maintaining your team members’ accountability so they can work independently in their functional areas. We provide process improvement with our guidelines and templates, help you identify major functions, and properly structure your organization to attract new customers. Your policies, processes, and procedures will be taken care of to level up how you run your agency.

Take our FREE agency growth assessment quiz to see where things are falling short. We’ll send you a bundle of resources tailored to scaling your agency.

Hiring A Business Coach? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Thinking of hiring a business coach? Get started with our guide!

As a small business owner, you have no doubt heard the value of hiring a business coach. Whether you’re just starting out or ready to scale, these advisors will help you see the gaps in your plan that you haven’t seen and provide you with the guidance you need to stop your company from collapsing.

Some business owners look at their business coach as their savior, a knight in shining armor ready to win their battle against the business management monsters, with all their words written in the stars.

But is that the purpose of having a business coach? Is their presence vital to attaining business success? Read on to find out.

Why Business Owners Hire a Coach

A business owner can say that their business is already successful with the help of analytics: performance and satisfaction reports, profit margins, industry awards and recognition, and personal success. In the ideal world, a business owner ticks everything off their list, but in reality, there is always room for improvement.

This is where a business coach comes in. After all, it wouldn’t hurt to have a professional look from the outside in, acting as a sounding board and advising as they see fit from their perspective.

Companies and small business owners hire a business coach to gain leverage over their market and become recognized in their field. A business coach assists in professional career development to maximize your expertise in running an entire agency. With the help of a business coach, small business owners are empowered to design policies and action plans to grow their businesses and motivate their teams.

Hiring A Business Coach

Things to Consider When Hiring a Business Coach

Effective business coaches assist you in making accurate decisions, assessing your strengths and weaknesses, and improving overall agency performance. Sounds promising, eh? But just like any other coach who offers their services to you, immediately taking the bait without properly scrutinizing it may cause more negative impacts than positive ones in the long run.

Here are a few factors you can take into account first:

What stage is your business at?

Does your new business already exist? Is your business producing enough to make the cash flow stable? Although small business coaches specialize in start-ups and self-employed individuals, it is still important to note which stage your company is at to get a clearer picture of where to begin.

Is your mindset aligned with success?

There’s been a lot of talk lately about “Success Mindset”. This isn’t just about being positive or having high hopes for your business; it requires visualizing success and what steps you’ll need to take to get there. It is a powerful tool, and a small business owner should spend some time checking in on your approaches to solutions, strategy, and collaboration, as all of these things are essential to success.

Some people find coaching helpful for improvement in this area, but keep in mind that even a great coach won’t be able to do this introspective work for you.

Is this really right for me?

Business coaching is a bit like having a life coach. Business owners can still live and function well without them. For some people, the opportunity to reflect with a coach is useful; for others, it feels uncomfortable and unproductive.

When Hiring a Business Coach Isn’t Worth It

If you are seriously considering hiring a business coach, but can’t put your finger on exactly why you should, then maybe you should also check why you shouldn’t.

You can’t afford it

Small business coaching services don’t come cheap. Their charges start at a thousand dollars a month or higher. Others charge $500 per hour, and other in-house coaching goes as high as $2,500 for one-on-one sessions. So if business owners don’t think they can spend more of their budget on additional business costs, hiring a business coach may not be the best solution.

You aren’t sure what you want to achieve

Everyone can say business growth is their plan six months from now, but how would an entrepreneur achieve this? When the answer is “I don’t know,” then a business coach may not be worth hiring. Their presence is to advise and observe the best way to fill in the gaps they see, but not spoon-feed the path itself. Business coaches give directions, but they’re not going to dictate where you take your business.

Your business is stable and predictable

Small business owners use business coaching services when their business plans fail. Likewise, many entrepreneurs take advice when they want to overcome obstacles like if they feel stuck, desire additional revenue, improve their sales and marketing skills, and so on. But if your business is stable, and you can foresee future growth despite the challenges, there may be no need to look for a business coach.

Why We Don’t Recommend a Business Coach

A great business coach is like a life coach for your organization. They collaborate with CEOs and owners to determine the best way to build businesses. However, having a business coach does not always turn out to be the best answer for all organizations. Here’s why we don’t recommend getting a business coach:

There is a misdirected focus in coaching sessions

Because business coaches want to figure out the optimum track to maximize your agency’s growth, it not only deals with the organization but with the top figures of the company as well. Unfortunately, coaching sessions today tend to focus more on talking about the entrepreneurs’ feelings and aspirations rather than developing KPIs and business strategies. Ultimately, they act as behavioral therapists who psychoanalyze instead of working alongside you.

They promise quick results

Business solutions take time before earning the fruits of their labor. Suppose it’s a whole system you aim to change, a structure for new ventures you want to create, or decades of embedded company culture that need modification. In these cases, successful business owners know there’s no shortcut to implementing an efficient development process.

They treat symptoms, not the cause

Business coaches tend to act on the immediate needs rather than the causes. Patching up the symptoms might help in the short run, but will only mean delaying if not foregoing long-term success. The underlying issues will still be around unless cured. As a result, business coaches’ approach can sometimes be limited, failing to address the root cause of problems that stop the entrepreneurs’ skills and organizations’ abilities from performing well.

Alternatives to Hiring Business Coaches

So, how does one succeed without the aid of business coaches?

Fret not! There’s still hope! There are other options to build businesses and increase ROI. Here are a few alternatives to check out if you’re still in doubt about getting a business coach:

Be conscious of your agency’s goals

What would you like your company to achieve? Split it down: What do you want to achieve by the end of the week? By the end of the year? Five years from now? Most business owners skip this part and take the plunge right away. Sit down with your team and confirm you’re all on the same page. Commit to making progress within the agency.

Establish and optimize your process

Set an effective business plan, find ways to measure development and monitor your progress. Metrics are not some scary nightmare of figures chasing you; they can be your best friend. Listen to them and honor their results. Be transparent and give feedback if needed.

Keeping track of your growth means evaluating what you already have and comparing it to what you want to achieve. A constant learning curve will help you become aware of areas for improvement and recognize your successes.

Make room for self-education

Education does not stop in college or senior high. Always say “yes” to improving yourself. Start by reading a few books that will help you discover and learn. Then, hire a pro to do a specified, detailed task so that you can take time to prioritize your physical and mental health. Finally, ask questions so that you can solve them yourself next time.

Lastly, become competent in using available online business tools like ScaleTime. They are there to help you time and again with running your organization with confidence and ease. Take the Sales Toolkit, for example, which will help you simplify and streamline your sales process and monitor the earnings you will be taking in.

Key Takeaways

To summarize, here’s our take on hiring a business coach for your agency:

  • Small business coaching is not necessarily a route to success.
  • They are there to help you improve your strategies and source of motivation, but they don’t guarantee you or your company’s growth.
  • Business coaching can be expensive, and it doesn’t do the work for you.
  • If business owners do not benefit from hiring one, they can focus on alternatives such as goal awareness, optimizing processes, and self-education.

Take our FREE agency growth assessment quiz to see where things are falling short. We’ll send you a bundle of resources tailored to scaling your agency.Hiring A Business Coach

5 Stages of the Project Management Process

Project management detailsA project manager oversees all facets of an agency’s project management process. The clients, the resources, and the team—all roads lead to you. But are you ready to take on the role that manages not just people but entire organizations, their processes, and their deliverables?

Before you panic, take a deep breath and let us help you turn your anxieties and worries into the confidence and determination you need to ace the entire project management life cycle.

A project life cycle is a systematic process that offers clarity in the delivery of your projects. It benefits not only you as a project manager, but all relevant stakeholders as well. There are 5 phases to the project management process:

  1. Initiation phase
  2. Planning phase
  3. Execution phase
  4. Monitoring phase
  5. Closure phase

Each phase consists of specific activities that help you organize and control the entire project duration. Sound too good to be true? Read on to find out how the project life cycle can guide you in optimizing your agency’s practices and processes!

Project management process

Initiating a project

Before you begin the work, start the project by understanding the essential pieces. The first of the five phases of the project management process where it is important to establish communication channels and determine the feasibility of the project.

This phase determines the general lines of the project, where it is proven how much value adds to the company and gets its acceptance. The initiation phase is also where the technical requirements are laid out by establishing who your team members are and what tools you need. Project initiation also includes indicating the project’s goals in the project brief.

A project manager can also start to manage projects during project initiation by conducting feasibility testing. What is feasibility testing, you say? Feasibility testing is where you identify the primary problem (or opportunity) and verify that your project will address that problem.

Constructing a business case will also help weigh the possible costs and gains and decide if it’s worth moving forward with the project. This is a detailed justification of the proposed project, including a breakdown of the risks, benefits, and timeline, and it should be reviewed by the organization’s leaders as well as key stakeholders.

In addition to the business case, what other things should be prepared in the project initiation phase? Project managers also identify the business needs and put them in writing by drafting a project charter. It defines what your project is and justifies it with the results of the feasibility study performed. For more complex projects, a project initiation document is prepared so that all parties can review the project’s essential details.

Scoping out the project

The project planning phase involves identifying the project scope and other information to make the project initiation phase more specific. This is also the phase when you define in detail the specific objectives, deliverables, and roadmap of the project. In addition, it gives a more detailed rundown on the cost and project timeline required for the team to deliver the expected output. This helps prevent scope creep, so you don’t do more work than is necessary or planned. Scope creep may be lingering around, waiting for a loophole in this phase before it strikes, at the weakest section not handled in the planning phase, and boom, your project will eventually be heading towards collapse and a miserable fiasco.

Project management process

The planning phase may be one of the most significant phases of project management because this is where the project team meets for the first time and discusses the project plan’s inclusions through a kick-off meeting. It may also be the only opportunity for you to create a stakeholder register, i.e., a list of all involved parties and information on their role or interest in the project.

Aside from the stakeholder register, there are other components in the project management plan. For example, the project plan is a handbook guide that should be checked, revised, and updated according to the project’s specifications. Other documents required to be prepared and discussed in the project planning phase may include:

  • A risk management plan that takes into account all identifiable and foreseeable risks. It also includes planning out any project dependencies and their impact on the overall timeline.
  • A communication plan to schedule communication with external contributors. The communication plan also includes milestones and methods used to communicate.
  • A scope statement lays out the project scope, limitations, and exclusions on funds, schedule, people, and other resources.
  • A work breakdown structure based on project goals and scope. Also called the work breakdown schedule, it divides the tasks into more manageable pieces for your team.
  • A financial plan that pinpoints the estimated budget and cost estimates as well as the potential ROIs.

Project execution

The project execution phase is the implementation of the conceptualized project plan. It is the actual “giving birth” of deliverables as an output of working on specific tasks. Work processes are carried out together with tracking systems and status meetings to check if the project is moving forward. Status reports are provided to the project manager to modify the project plan and adjust the schedules of resource procurement and team members if needed.

Planned workflow diagrams are also central to the life cycle phase of project management. But what are workflow diagrams? These graphical representations give your project team an idea of how each step or task should progress, who is responsible at a certain point in the implementation of the project, and how the work is carried out from start to finish. Uniformity in performing a task is essential to standardize the quality, especially when it comes to repetitive functions. This standardization is also important when teaching new team members how to perform these tasks.

As project managers, it is also essential to have a reliable tool that will help make the project execution a lot easier to handle. Otherwise, how would you be able to divide your time and attention among all the aspects of the project coming and going in different directions? Project execution usually takes the number one spot out of the five project phases where getting organized is essential.

Software such as Asana, Teamwork, Monday, Click-up, and other online applications can automate various functions in your team. Using project management tools in the project execution phase efficiently syncs your daily or weekly tasks according to your specified order of importance and date of completion. You can also adjust schedules systematically and manage your time by keeping yourself updated in real-time.

Project monitoring

Everyone has a project management methodology that works for them. For some managers, it may be through Agile or Lean techniques; others may find Waterfall or Six Sigma more effective. What is important is making sure the chosen methodology works for you and your team.

The project monitoring phase is an opportunity to step back and take a big-picture look at the overall project progress, which is essential in ensuring the project runs smoothly. Key performance indicators of an agency are an excellent basis for measuring project performance. Schedule tracking, high-quality deliverables, monitoring expenditures, and utilization of resources are all crucial for a successful project management process.

Changes made in the duration of the project life cycle can also be evaluated during this project phase. For example, what are the problems raised? How frequently did your team experience the same concern? Who are the involved parties? Are the issues answered? How long did it take to be resolved? Documenting the answers to these questions improves the project performance and ensures that the project management plan is updated and on track.

While you’re at it, keeping all stakeholders up-to-date will provide transparency and show your assertive communication and management skills. Trust us, they will appreciate all those little updates (and spare you from the awkward “how’s it going” queries)!

Project close

Project management process

The last of the five project management phases is the project closing phase. The project closure phase identifies what you need to do to finally get approvals, close out the project, and sign off. A green light from the project management body, including external stakeholders, is vital before closing the project entirely. There is usually quite a bit of work to be done even after the final output!

The project remains like an unconsumed budget; closed vendor contracts, software subscriptions, and the remainder of other documents and resources should be appropriately released and turned over as soon as the final output has been delivered and the project finalized and established. The final project budget, along with the list of unaccomplished tasks and their commitment date of completion, should be specified to close the project formally. Finally, don’t forget to send final updates to ALL stakeholders! They may ask for a breakdown of the concluded project expenditures or ask for an evaluation to assess learnings and constructive reviews.

Within the team, you can control project closure by holding a project debrief for your agency. Discuss the failures and restraints you experienced during the project and give feedback on the team’s group and individual performances. This can help wrap up unfinished business and prepare team members to be emotionally and physically ready to take on new challenges. It is also a great way to celebrate and be motivated for future projects!

Key Takeaways

Knowing the five stages of the project management process makes you a better project manager and team leader. You become equipped with broader awareness, and the opportunity to practice your skills, on making project success a little less difficult. To review, here are the phases of the project management process:

  • The initiation phase is where all the general information about the project is conceived and justified
  • The planning phase constitutes the project scope, objectives, direction, and deliverables discussed in detail to prevent scope creep
  • The project execution or the actual process of constructing the product or service.
  • The monitoring phase deals with the tracking and controlling of project resources and overall progress
  • The closing phase is where the deliverables get handed over and approved, ending with an evaluation of the entire process and the learnings experienced

What will you gain by observing these stages? Your team will surely have more clarity on the procedures to be done and a motivated mindset knowing what to expect next. If you and your team dream of taking on your next projects with ease, then let ScaleTime help you scale up your project management process!

ScaleTime combines your agency’s project management processes and helps you optimize your team. With our SCALE Framework, Project Management Checklist, and proven-effective Sales Process, you can simply kick back, relax and free your time! So let us help you today! Take advantage of our free discovery session and watch your agency’s productivity and profits grow.

Lessons Learned: Project Management Example

Project management lessons learned, Lessons learned in project management

Want to get the most out of lessons learned? Project management example coming right up!

When you look back over a finished project, do you look at the positive side?

Newly formed teams worked well with efficiency. Senior and junior team members collaborate flawlessly. The project was finished ahead of schedule. Post-project reviews are encouraging.

Or do you focus more on your mistakes?

Members are always on leave. Lapses in communication. The client made last-minute changes. Underestimating project costs. Delayed project timeline.

Making mistakes is unavoidable. As project managers, it is essential to examine both the positive and negative aspects of a finished project to understand the lessons learned.

But wait, what are the lessons learned?

What are Lessons Learned Meetings?

The Project Management Institute (PMI) talks about lessons learned as documented information on project experiences, covering both positive and negative ones.

When project managers capture lessons learned, chances are that they will not repeat the same mistakes on their next project. What about the excellent feedback given during post-project reviews? Yep, processes leading to that are also evaluated and reviewed for repeating the same positive response on future projects.

By capturing lessons learned, a project manager can also build a critical review to share with other project teams how they worked and improve key points for the completion of the current project.

PMI also noted that while assessing good and bad experiences is critical, there is no proper use for past lessons learned without appropriate documentation. You’ll be surprised at how you and your team discover information to establish higher productivity, not to mention better organizational alignment for your agency!

An Example Six-Step Process of Lessons Learned

So now that we know the basics, how do we apply the lessons learned in project management?

Want to turn your lessons learned workshops around? Follow our six steps.

Project teams can find a way to learn from project leaders by creating a lessons-learned process. This way, you can have time for knowledge-sharing with your entire team. In addition, you can apply the knowledge from past projects to a similar project in future endeavors or new projects led by other project teams.

We know, we know. Project managers ask how the team’s experience was after the project, and it’s normal to hear every project member say, “Everything’s fine.” “Everything went OK.” Begin by including the lessons learned application as early as the project planning phase. Remind them during team meetings to have a decent answer when asked and to be more sensitive about what is going on during the entire project lifecycle.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are six steps of an example lessons learned process:

1. Identify the problems with your project team

Based on the newly completed project, past mistakes can be discussed with the entire project team, especially while this is still “fresh” in everyone’s minds. Other than the project manager, a selected facilitator may ask to complete a survey, jot down the events that may have been the crucial factor for the issue, or anything that can capture lessons learned through feedback. Start by asking questions about the causes of the problem. What happened? When and how did the issue arise? Where did we go wrong? By doing this, the team members involved in the said situations can help identify the issue’s root.

Identifying areas for improvement can also help distinguish why the project fell short of expectations or what lacked consistency in the execution of the project. It may be due to the same mistakes experienced in previous projects that caused project failure, or it may be new ones. The identified concerns and issues can have different natures and may be client-facing, internal, or both.

2. Identify the successes as well

During the lessons learned sessions, it is also essential to work on the project’s successes with the help of guide questions. What did we do right? What led to that success? How can it be duplicated? These successes are attributed to factors that can be repeated and included in future projects.

For example, if the team experienced commendations for collaborating well with unquestionable team spirit, was it because of the clear communication between members? Is it because their skills complement one another? Maybe because the project manager supports them as a whole and individually? Or it could be all of the above!

Understanding how the wins came about will ultimately help optimize the implementation of project management processes, risk management, project scope, and other aspects to make the team more efficient and productive.

Your lessons learned document will be valuable to prevent other teams making the same mistake.

3. Analyze project management lessons learned

After answering the three important questions: What went wrong? What went right? Where do we need to improve?

The next step to knowing the lesson learned is to organize the survey results and categorize them accordingly. Then, create a lesson learned report with project team members, especially key stakeholders.

You may ask why you still need to combine all these things. Here’s why: Analyzing lessons learned in project management allows you to do a project review. It should summarize the strengths of the project, the areas for improvement, the weaknesses of the project, and the recommendations. Project managers also document lessons learned to rate the project’s success and client satisfaction, and review everything with the team.

Finally, we can assess how to work on applying project lessons into action plans that answer recommendations in the lessons learned session.

4. Document or create new documents for best practices

When we share lessons learned with the project team, we let them know the survey results, feedback collated, and the lessons learned. When sharing the results, be sure to record team members’ thoughts about lessons learned and encourage them to look at what processes didn’t work this time. By doing this, team members stay motivated to learn how to improve their work in the future.

But let’s not forget to look at what processes in the pipeline did work and the notable ones that didn’t because they can contribute to creating new documents for best practices. These best practices are incorporated into existing business processes, technology, modes of communication, policies, procedures, and employee accomplishments.

Some solutions to document and apply cold include training and upskilling personnel, increasing accountability before a technology or process issue creates more damage, regular communication, consistent updating of critical stakeholders, managing strategies, and reevaluating programs as needed.

5. Store, update, or create new documents for those processes

The lessons learned template should be archived and stored in a secure place accessible to the project team, other project managers, and external stakeholders. It can also be stored in an existing project management tool, where the lessons learned report can be read and is available to share. A centralized drive or cloud storage can be a great option in today’s digital world, preferably open for access within the company’s local network.

What are the benefits of storing the lessons learned documents? First, keeping these reports available and active helps everyone become familiarized with the best practices, new team members can be acquainted with the agency’s project processes, and project managers can dig through these documents and effectively apply them.

6. Retrieve for use on current and future projects

Setting up a keyword search capability will help retrieve the lessons learned reports. Project managers must always refer to these reports before initiating the project planning phase to see if there are some projects and to avoid repeating the mistakes made in previous projects.

We can also look at the best practices involved in implementing a similar project and challenge ourselves to work on improving things. Finally, aim to discuss lessons learned reports during the kick-off meeting with the key stakeholders and project team members to help identify the risks you are about to encounter and the best mitigation plan.

Having standard processes and tools helps shape the consistency of the next project. The lessons learned template can be used as a guide, while other related documents can be categorized further to optimize the searchability of each topic in the lessons learned report.

The lessons learned method should focus on knowledge gained as well as mistakes made.

Conclusion

When we capture lessons learned after each project, we are one step closer to perfecting our project performance. We develop our project management system and streamline our business operations by regularly documenting and updating what we have done well, how we will repeat the same successful procedure in the future, and analyzing areas for improvement. We also follow a lessons-learned process:

  • Identifying problems and successes
  • Analyzing and organizing them
  • Documenting and sharing the issues with the entire team
  • Storing them in an easily accessible place
  • Retrieving and utilizing during the planning of the next project

Once your agency frequently captures the lessons learned in each project, it becomes a norm to continue your team’s commitment to improving themselves, the quality of their output, and the project management processes.

With ScaleTime’s Agency Project Management Checklist, you can start your way to making your project management life easier and more efficient. Check out our automated processes to eliminate bottlenecks and other project management strategies. Get your checklist today!

Effective Project Management SOP Example For Business Growth

One of the most crucial elements for project management success is organization.

Why?

Because a team without a concrete structure for managing projects will fail once it encounters a challenge. You don’t want your team to look like a bunch of renegade windup toys running into each other if the client says, “Jump!”

That is so not a good look for your project management skills.

All right, what’s the solution then?

You need a clear set of project management SOPs (standard operating procedures) that everyone can and will follow.

If you’re currently drafting your business’s SOP, or you need SOP writing help and don’t know where to start, here’s a guide and sample to help you kick-start your process.

Overview: What Is a Standard Operating Procedure or SOP?

Effective Project Management

A standard operating procedure or SOP is an official document outlining the systematic method of carrying out and completing a process. SOPs must be comprehensive, clear, and logical.

The major goals of an SOP are to:

  • Track project’s progress
  • Meet deadlines
  • Anticipate future risks
  • Achieve consistent results on repeat

The detailed instructions in the SOP must keep employees on task and on point with deliverables.

Drafting an SOP must-haves

Thorough research is needed to draft the SOP.

Stakeholders play a big part in making a successful standard operating procedure because of the practical knowledge they can bring to the table. They can state their industry objectives and ensure the organization gets the resources it needs.

Just as well, employees should contribute to the official SOP of a project since ultimately, they’re the end-users.

Drafting an SOP isn’t just helpful in the actual operation of the company. An SOP is also useful for training new hires and channeling their most relevant skills for the project’s success.

Also, an SOP will help new team members to familiarize themselves with company’s internal processes and their professional responsibilities.

The Importance of a Project Management SOP

Project management helps us get shi$ done — especially in business. Successful project management sets goals, how to achieve them, and when to achieve them.

In addition, it ensures that everyone in the development team understands and contributes to the project from start to finish. Furthermore, airtight project wrangling involves thorough planning, management, and communication.

What’s the importance of a project management SOP? Let’s talk about the reasons in detail.

Maintains Organization

Even though the project manager and everyone on the team already knows what to do when they encounter certain SNAFUs, the truth is, they won’t stay in the company forever.

SOPs help you employee-proof your business.

We need to make sure that even if a star employee leaves, the professional experience and knowledge they contributed will live on.

You’ll need to document these aspects as part of the SOP for project management. This way, you’ll ensure the organization will continue to move forward even if your star player puts in their two-weeks.

Guarantees Consistency

When your development teams work on a broad range of projects, it’s impossible for everyone to remember the exact processes involved in an activity they haven’t handled lately.

Anyone can get a little rusty. But an SOP greases those memory wheels.

Establishing clear, concise step-by-step standard instructions will help the team master the process of producing a particular business product or services over and over again.

It will help the project management team eliminate any possible error compromising the products or services.

Enhances Commitment

The SOP sets the metrics to gauge the improvement of employees’ performance and professional growth.

When team members follow the SOP, they’ll understand what the organization expects from them. As a result, they’ll strive for quality and contribute significant support to the project management.

Better Communication

Stress causes even the brightest bulb in the chandelier to fumble their words. When under pressure, we’re often can’t express ourselves clearly.

It can happen to some of the best project managers and team leaders. And when it does, there’s miscommunication and misunderstandings.

If something is unclear, employees can always refer to the SOP. Problem solved. Lights on blast.

Identify All the Processes Within a Project: Step by Step

Step by Step

If you write an SOP, it can seem like an overwhelming task — especially if you’re not one of those fancy-schmancy professional writers. So, break the process down into shallow steps so you can stay focused and organized.

Baby steps make everything less overwhelming:

  • Step 1: Project Scope and Objectives — Start with the end already in mind. What result do you want, who will do it, and what steps does it take?
  • Step 2: Project Infrastructure — This step describes the project’s motif and where it will fit in, and its nature or which infrastructure is involved.
  • Step 3: Characteristics — In this step, you’ll identify the project’s product and analyze its characteristics.
  • Step 4: Product or Services — Outline the final products or services the customer will get, including how all these aspects move through the supply chain before reaching the end-user.
  • Step 5: Estimate the Time and Effort for Each Activity — Every project needs a definitive start and finish date. Setting any dates, though, ultimately depends on how long any one process takes. So, plan your schedules along with budget management to produce the correct results on targeted dates.
  • Step 6: Risks — These are always present. In project management, you’ll need to account for any the risks involved in certain activities so you can either avoid or mitigate them.
  • Step 7: Resource Allocation — For successful project management (and business), allocate your resources and distribute them to the necessary projects to ensure workloads are evenly assigned.
  • Step 8: Review — The first draft of SOPs is then reviewed and tested to see if it will yield the desired results.
  • Step 9: Execution — The finalized and publicized SOP for project management is executed.

Voila!

Is This a Recurring Project? Could You Repeat It?

You can use and follow standard operating procedures again and again for recurring projects with processes that don’t change too much.

But for best practices, you’ll need to occasionally review and update your SOPs. The ideal frequency is every one to two years.

The review’s goal is to check if the procedures are still practical and feasible, and whether the focus of the procedure has changed. During the review, you can determine if the SOPs are still needed, or if you need to change or remove them.

You can also add additional details to further flesh out your SOP. Include the interval for future reviews in the updated SOP document along with an updates history.

How To Create an SOP

In SOP writing, there are several important factors to consider:

  • Goals — Defines the specific goals of each SOP. Provides precise instructions on how to accomplish each step accurately to achieve targets.
  • Assets — Refers to the tools, programs, software, spreadsheets, links, and other applicable information required to create the SOP.
  • Location — A centralized and cloud-based storage where the information for SOP is located such as Asana, Google Drive, Slack, Airtable, etc.
  • Tools and Resources — The tools and resources needed to accomplish a task or process. These tools and resources should be identified on the SOP along with important information about them.
  • Deliverables — Refers to the more tangible outputs you’ll achieve with the SOP.
  • Metrics — These are any particular metrics that evaluate and check if the processes are achieving your desired goals.
  • Instructions or Criteria — The SOP must have clear instructions for completing every procedure. It must also define standards to follow when working toward a goal.

Templatize It!

Template and plan

We made that word up but the point still stands.

Once you’ve established an official standard operating procedure, you can use it as the baseline format for writing SOPs in the future.

To get started, you can make a template from this sample SOP. You’re welcome.

How can you create the sample SOP?

Step 1 — Choose a document software program to create the template. You can go the traditional route with Microsoft Word. Or Google Sheets, Notion, Get Guru, Slite, etc.

Step 2 — Create a file for the SOP Template.

Step 3 — Define the SOP format. This includes the control block where you’ll outline the compliance standards, management information and dates. Then add header and footer with the company name or department’s name and page numbers. Lastly, set the page margin.

Pssst. A bigger page margin is needed if you’re printing and binding the SOP document.

Step 4 —Work that content and add your key elements:

  • Goal. The document’s goal must be written in one or two sentences. Be brief but concise. There’s no need for more elaborate details yet, oh budding professional writer.
  • Scope. A complete explanation of what’s tackled in the SOP that’s clear and easy to understand.
  • Table of Contents if needed. A list of the SOP’s sections along with numbers.
  • Reference Guide. List of other documents referred to in the SOP.
  • Definition of Terms. Organizational terms used in the SOP document and in the company.
  • Tools, Assets, and Location. This section provides direction on the assets and tools related to the SOP and the location of where to find these tools.
  • Tasks and Responsibilities. This section identifies who does a specific task.
  • Procedure. This relates to the instructions and criteria that you’ve identified for your SOP, broken down into steps that should be taken and maintained to achieve the deliverables.
  • Monitoring. This section identifies who is responsible for monitoring the SOP implementation and the metrics you identified for assessing the results.
  • History of Revisions. Date of revisions along with the reason for revision.
  • Signatures.

Step 5 — Finalize the SOP style. This includes the fonts styles and sizes, and paragraph styles. Make sure it’s on-brand.

Step 6 — Save your shiny new template file on a shared drive and inform the necessary stakeholders. Make sure to put it on Read Only setting so no one can copy or alter it.

Build the Framework for an Effective Project Management SOP with ScaleTime!

SOPs maximize teams’ efficiency and save organizations from potential future headaches. When implemented correctly, they can certainly take a business to a new level.

Remember to:

  • Start small
  • Define your goals and deliverables
  • Properly allocate your resources along with your budget planning
  • Determine your metrics
  • Give clear instructions
  • Use a template to craft a repeatable SOP sample
  • Update and review your SOPs

So, that pretty much sums up everything you need to know about creating an effective project management SOP.

Are you ready to get started on yours? There are tools available to make this process even better and easier.

ScaleTime‘s expertise is here and ready for you to plunder to take your business to the next level of awesome. Get ready to grow and hit your career goals with our latest tools and processes that save time, money, and bandwidth. With our project management checklist, you can do just that in a streamlined way. Check it out now!

Want to learn more about ScaleTime and how it can help your business? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and let us schedule a demo to get a bird’s eye view of your business’s full potential.

New Client Onboarding Form For Success

how to scale a marketing

You’ve done everything possible to get new clients to notice your kickbutt offerings.

  • Providing quality on time, every time
  • Discounts!
  • Memorable, marvelous marketing campaigns

Your hard work and smarts are finally paying off with a firehose pipeline of customers who want to buy from you and only you.

That’s great and all, but do you have what it takes to ensure that those prospective customers become loyal clients?

There’s one more important thing left for you to do to scale your marketing agency and skyrocket revenue. You need a client onboarding template.

Omg. Lookit! We’ve got one right here with your name it.

Our client onboarding form has everything you need for a successful customer onboarding process.

Let’s dig in first with the prep work.

 

Preparation

We’ve all been through those awkward moments when we wanted to strike up a conversation with someone we kind of know, but aren’t quite sure where to start. This is similar to the client onboarding process.

It goes something like this:

New clients have shown an interest in your business. Super!

They’re ready to purchase but aren’t sure how to get started. Bummer.

If you don’t reduce the friction at this inflection point and smooth the transition to make it easier for them to get started with your services, you’ll lose this interested customer!

This is the critical moment where a client onboarding template comes in to save you both.

Plus, having a professional onboarding template ready to deploy when prospects are ready to buy helps your brand make a good first impression.

Here are your prep work action steps:

  • Providing quality on time, every
  • Send tailored welcome documents to every new client
  • Introduce your team
  • Give the customer any additional information they should know about your company’s services and policies

New clients are likely to purchase from companies with a friendly onboarding process. A client onboarding toolkit is a prerequisite to achieving this.

We’ll break down your prep work action steps into more detail up next.

how to scale a social media marketing agency

Client’s Basic Details

Start a successful customer onboarding process with a friendly introduction.

Gathering new clients’ basic information, like their name, title, and company name, is a step toward establishing effective client relationships.

The other essential new clients’ details that are a must-have are contact details — phone numbers, email addresses, websites, etc.

Setting Expectations

The customer onboarding process should involve new clients and your company’s clear goals and objectives.

Include agreed-upon deliverables, establish communication channels and identify success measurement KPIs in the client onboarding form.

This shows your company’s dedication to meeting clients’ expectations, leading to fruitful customer acquisition. It also positions your company as a professional, reliable brand and shows you’re up to the task.

New Client Questionnaire

Send new customers an intake form to complete for a favorable client onboarding process.

The intake form should gather up-to-date information from the new clients and is paramount in helping you and other relevant team members understand their new customer.

After the client completes the intake form, review the information thoroughly and make sure it’s stored where team members can access it easily.

Marketing and Media Tools

Typically, new clients have done a lot of research into their project and goals before they’ve contacted you.

So, your new client probably has a lot of resources in their arsenal that could help you move the project along. As such, be sure to request access to any resources the client deems useful for the work on the new client onboarding template.

These additional resources are building blocks for the new client onboarding checklist and will help surpass new customer expectations.

Onboarding Meeting

The client onboarding process template should detail what will take place in the first client onboarding meeting. The information collected on the client onboarding template will determine the direction to take during the meeting.

For example, you can choose to share a logical strategy you’re using to develop new clients’ workspace. This is critical knowledge to get you and the client on the same page.

Ask questions about any concerns you might have and allow room for new clients to ask questions. Remember to take notes, so you don’t miss or forget key points.

The onboarding process benefits from building positive customer relationships if done right.

how to scale your marketing

Strategize

To plan for a new client’s growth, you’ll want to engage in fact-finding into the client’s goals first. Strategizing is key in the client onboarding checklist.

Here’s how to achieve this in the client onboarding process:

Market Research

The first step is to investigate your new client’s competitors. It’s essential to get the latest information and know what your new client is up against.

Top Competitors

They say knowing your competitor is smart business. Something about keeping friends close and enemies closer. So, identify the five top competitors for your new client and what gives those competitors an advantage over your customer.

List the competitors’ website links and even the keywords used in the meta title. Use competitor analysis tools such as Similarweb and SEMRush for diving deeper.

Competitor Ads

Research your onboarding client competitor ads’ target market, the ads’ placement, and how the competitors efficiently increase their campaign.

Another thing to consider is how your customer onboarding competitors create touchpoints for new customers and maximize advertising results.

Audit Websites and Traffic

Inspect your new customer’s competitors’ websites to know where their site traffic comes from and their SEO optimization strategies.

Use tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Ubersuggest to learn how you can give your new clients a competitive edge.

Marketing Strategy

The client onboarding process template involves developing ways in which your new clients may shift their business to top levels. Again, consulting a digital agency is helpful if you don’t know how to plan your marketing strategy.

Target Persona

After putting together the relevant information and detailed metrics, the next step is to outline your new customer’s ideal prospects and target audience. Describe their demographics, drivers, and pain points for a new client to figure out a solution.

Goals

Use the new client’s target audience to create a series of goals. The intention is to increase the new clients’ company awareness, leads, and drive sales.

Outline the steps for how your agency will increase customer acquisition and website traffic for your new client in great detail.

Value Proposition

Think of the unique features your new client’s products or services possess that you can highlight to attract their target customers.

A promise for value to be delivered improves customer understanding, drives sales, and builds customer engagement. They should be relevant and valuable solutions for the top priority needs of their target customers.

how to scale a marketing

Brief The Team

Assign the new client a team for their project. Ensure you’re moving together with relevant team members for successful client onboarding.

Client briefs

The briefs should be part of the new client onboarding template. Provide new clients with documents containing:

  • Relevant, detailed information
  • Product or service they offer
  • Questionnaire responses
  • Marketing strategy you’ve outlined

These are essential assets the team needs to carry out a smooth project from start to finish.

Client handoffs

Schedule a meeting with the team assigned to the client’s project. During the meeting, elaborate on all the aspects of the new client and the task at hand.

Assign responsibilities such as team lead and stating the relevant clients’ communication lines. Inform the client of the team and who’s handling what.

Putting workflows into project systems

The client onboarding template should include standardized project workflows.

Have a proven sequence of steps through which the project is accomplished. List all the project details and identify how they will fit into the project management workflow.

Project management software provides relevant tools for organizing workflow. You can use other tools such as a cloud-hosted Google Drive folder and Notion page to build the project workflow you want.

how to scale a marketing

Kickoff

The project is about to start, and the team members and clients must set the vision for the project for the next few months.

First-Month Plan

We all know that failing to plan is planning to fail.
So during the first month, you’ve got to create a work progress record.

Incorporate all the work plans for the new client during the onboarding process for the next four weeks. Define the path, ideas to be implemented, and how those implementations will contribute to the overall goal.

Setup Reporting Templates and Tools

Reporting tools come in handy for demonstrating how the project is moving forward. Setting up these templates helps you display detailed project metrics.

In addition, these tools allow options for client access and ability to view or share completed reports. Reporting also adds transparency to the project and keeps clients at ease.

Kickoff Meeting

At this point in the client onboarding template, you must have a clear purpose for the project kickoff meeting.

Schedule the meeting and inform the client and relevant team members. Follow up to ensure the stakeholders confirm their attendance.

When you hold the meeting, try and get a shared understanding of what needs to be done and agree on how you will collaborate during the entire project lifetime.

Research reports anatomy

After the meeting, you should create a report discussing the client’s problem you’re solving, the methods you’ll use, the expected results, and the conclusions.

Acknowledgments and references should be included for a complete report. This is necessary for validating solid elements of the clients’ products or services.

Project Launch

After achieving your objectives in the client onboarding checklist, the next step is to launch the project. This is the real deal — the fun part — that follows the client onboarding process.

First, create a new client workspace consisting of all the onboarding documents for the project’s official papers.

After compiling the project objectives, deliverables, and timelines, it’s time to get the client’s approval and set project in motion. You can then add clients to your project management software to keep them on the same page.

how to scale a marketing

Follow up

Post Onboarding Meeting

When it’s all said and done, you can mark off the new client onboarding checklist.

Send your clients emails to request a meeting. The post-on-boarding meeting will help you understand their customer experience, track onboarding success, and how you can improve for a future new client onboarding template.

Ongoing educational sequences

You should regularly train new clients on your onboarding process through channels such as webinars or email newsletters. In addition, keep your the client informed of any news or changes and bring any project concerns to their attention quickly.

Keep Clients Engaged

You and your new client should agree on the best way to communicate. The channel should provide convenient tools to share information and chat with your new client and your team quickly and easily.

Strengthening client relationships with prompt, clear communication and easy channels in which to do it keeps them engaged and clears misunderstandings.

Conclusion

A new customer onboarding template/form is necessary for ensuring customer satisfaction and creating a high customer lifetime value.

The best asset of a customer onboarding strategy is providing the new client with a frictionless entry point into your team. In addition, the client onboarding process matters as it determines the new numbers of subscriptions, sign-ups, and purchases.

Your action steps for a kickbutt client onboarding process:

  • Get all the relevant information — client details, competitor details, KPIs, measurements, reports — and store where all parties can easily access it.
  • Assign a team to your new client and make the necessary introductions.
  • Engage in a client kickoff meeting to get everyone on the same page and details fleshed out.
  • Ensure transparency into critical business processes. Make sure clients can access data and reporting so they can keep track of the milestones and feel good about where the project is headed.
  • Get a post onboarding meeting scheduled so you can ensure the future success of a good customer onboarding process.

Following the client onboarding template earnestly works for the best onboarding strategy. The client onboarding process, when done correctly, makes customers comfortable and creates customer convenience in the client’s ongoing relationship.

Ready to get your very own new client onboarding guide? Download it HERE.

If you need assistance with client onboarding, don’t hesitate to hit us up. Our team is ready to get all the obstacles out of your way!

 

Marketing Agency Sales Process: How to Boost Revenue

Marketing Agency Sales Process

Congrats. You’re ready to start selling!

Marketing goals and objectives have been thoroughly explained and delegated. Your sales team and their reps are ready to get cracking! You put your feet up and let them do their magic.

And then a month passes.

You check in with your team, hoping for some stellar, brag-worthy conversion reports. But all you get are some suggestions for a few website changes and a proposal to change the company’s logo!

Wtf.

Cue panic attack. This CANNOT be happening.

Where are my brag-worth conversion reports, damnit!

After quelling your panic and reining in your frustration, it hits you:

Did I walk them through the sales process steps? Are they aware of the entire sales process?

Whoops. Well, this is embarrassing.

When reps don’t know the sales process steps, a conversion rate angel loses its wings. And this lack of knowledge is a common sales process mistake that your sales rep may be making.

So, if you’re expecting sales growth but are overwhelmed with choosing the right ways to do it, we’re here to help.

ScaleTime offers results-driven development for your digital marketing agency, allowing you to optimize your systems and maximize your revenues.

Sound fun? It sure is, amigo. Let’s get started!

Marketing Agency Sales Process

Meet a Customer’s Needs With Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is now every business’s go-to for the latest trends, news, and updates for optimizing the sales process and obtaining robust conversion rates.

Meeting your customers’ needs by accessing the best digital marketing techniques anywhere, anytime, with anyone is an essential step to turbo-charging your business growth.

With the right digital marketing techniques and strategies, your brand will obtain increased visibility online, and ensure that more people (and paying customers) see you!

In addition, mobile devices, smartphones, apps, and other channels help connect you to potential clients and your target audience.

Result? More sales, bruv.

How do you know who’s a member of your target audience?

Marketing Agency Sales Process

Your target audience is the individuals or entities most likely to become your customers. These are the people who fit the profile for the type of person who would most like your brand and purchase your offerings.

All sales managers should know how to identify the brand’s target audience and put all their marketing efforts into making those particular individuals notice and purchase the deliverables you are offering.

Inbound marketing, social media marketing, and other digital platforms make your agency more public and accessible and are used to attract and engage your audience.

At first, your target audience might be on the small side. But once you determine who you’re selling to, you can find additional digital marketing avenues for expanding your reach and tapping into more audiences who will convert into profitable customers.

Mapping Out Your Sales Process

The road to customer success is not a smooth-sailing one. There will be bumps and many obstacles along the way. But with the help of a standardized sales process, you can get your sales team going and your revenue increasing.

So how will your agency go from here to there?

Sales process flowchart guide

We’ve come up with this Sales Process Flowchart Guide, where we discuss the various steps of a sales process and tips in building a sales strategy with a handy-dandy sales flowchart!

Sales reps and project managers, rejoice for your life is about to get easier.

All right, here’s an example of an actual flowchart:

Marketing Agency Sales Process

As you can see, this flowchart is broken up into small chunks of tasks that comprise all the necessary sales process steps.

The sections are also categorized into various shapes and colors to differentiate processes, subprocesses, and decisions. Arrows point out the direction of the next stage, while documentation is often indicated to put into writing the activities performed in a specific step.

Overall, the sales process flowchart is composed of 7 steps:

  1. Sourcing leads
  2. Contacting new leads
  3. Determining the sales cycle
  4. Creating and preparing sales collateral
  5. Taking note of questions and arguments
  6. Closing deals
  7. Caring for current clients

Now that you can see in a visual representation what the sales process looks like, the next step is to create a sales process that works for your business.

How to Create an Agency Sales Process and Get Results in 7 Steps

Marketing Agency Sales Process

Step 1: Source Your Leads

Leads must have specific demographic attributes your target customers most likely to find your products or services of interest.

So, to get to your leads, you need to get the target market right.

All right, but how do you figure out those specific demographic attributes?

Get your sales team to check on prospecting and qualifying the target audience and create marketing projects to generate their demographic information.

Then, place them in a secure, organized database like a Customer Relationship Management or CRM, and track your leads’ engagement, interactions, and updates on contact numbers and demographic location.

A CRM can also monitor customer relationships and evaluate whether they are quality leads.

Other than this, you also need to make sure your product or service offered has undergone a product-market fit. Or at the very least, the presence of strong demand in the market today.

Another factor is the price tolerance of the offered product or service. This is the amount buyers are still willing to pay for your offering, instead of selecting another competitor’s product or service.

Step 2: Contact and Qualify New Leads

Understanding how to qualify new leads is critical for knowing whether or not your agency has a quality group of leads or if you need to reevaluate your existing lead generation strategy.

Here are a few factors to consider when sorting the quality leads wheat from the chaff.

Stakeholders

Stakeholders are people or entities with a vested interest in your company’s success. They understand they are affected if the company fails, so they do everything to keep it thriving.

There are influential stakeholders, investors, internal stakeholders like employees, and external stakeholders like suppliers and trade associations. Your company stakeholders can all create a change in the agency’s overall marketing strategy and educate and empower people with the strategy’s effectiveness.

Authority

Lead generation is straightforward when individuals see you as an authority or if they know you are knowledgeable, especially when it comes to addressing their needs.

Also, holding an authoritative position also gives you the power to sway purchasing decisions without being seen as an aggressive salesperson or a retail dictator.

On the other end of the spectrum, having leads that engage with your business because they find your brand authoritative will ultimately expedite the sales process. That is, IF your sales reps properly pitch those leads!

An authority figure for many businesses is the finance manager, budget consultant, or the business owner.

Needs

When your leads immediately need what you’re currently offering, then you’re in luck. A thirsty man in the desert won’t give you no side-eye when you offer him a glass of cold water for five grand.

Basically, if your leads have an immediate, urgent need for your products, they’re not going to think twice about buying.

But most likely, you’re not offering an essential, urgent item. So, the entire sales process is going to take a bit longer. In lieu of this, marketing managers and sales reps must ask leads certain questions to determine how quickly the individual is likely to buy and exactly where they are in the buyer’s journey.

Questions like:

  • What are your challenges right now?
  • Is it worth it to you to spend money to overcome those challenges?
  • How much money? What’s your budget?
  • How soon do you need to solve your problems?

Etcetera, etcetera.

Keep in mind though that leads, whether quality or not, can also refer your agency to someone they know who needs your services.

Also in the future, the need for your services may arise. So leads you’ve already engaged and conversed with are more likely to remember you and contact you for help.

The point is to open the dialogue with anyone who has raised their hand, and keep that dialogue open for the lead’s future needs.

Timeline

Leads are often bound by a timeline or a specific period that either hinders or allows them to turn from a lead into a profitable customer.

Whether the challenges they face can be solved right now or not, they face other problems whose answers your products or services cannot provide.

This may be more important to them, so they put purchasing from you on hold for the meantime.

It is also important to note that when contacting leads, you don’t want to just ask a few questions so you can tick off some arbitrary boxes.

The point of talking to leads is to actively listen and understand their needs, wants, goals, and challenges to create and offer suitable products and services.

This takes us to the next step:

Step 3: Determine the sales cycle

Having sourced and qualified your leads, determining how you will engage them is the next step in the sales process.

One of the sales process steps includes having specific touch points in the sales cycle. touch points are the type of encounters you have with prospective buyers.

A touch point in the sales cycle might not always take the form of directly talking to a lead. In some instances, a touch point might be an action your sales or marketing reps take to get your in front of quality leads.

  • In today’s digital, always on-screen world, a sales touchpoint can be something like:
  • A website query
  • An email subscription
  • Question on a transaction

Most touch points occur on handheld devices like a mobile phone connected to the internet. However, some leads still prefer the traditional route with face-to-face interactions or coffee dates. If possible, a good mix of both digital and traditional touch points is ideal.

Additionally, a touchpoint can also be sales calls like a warm or scheduled call. Or a discovery call with a lukewarm lead that lets you know more about a potential buyer after they’ve indicated they want to learn more about your brand.

Email follow-ups can also be touch points that can boost the approach stage of the sales process.

After a successful discovery call, assign leads to a contact or account manager to personally manage and check on their status and follow up with them confidently.

Step 4: Create sales collateral

The real work may start with sourcing leads. But the creative part of preparing a presentation for them is also a project.

A presentation of sales collateral includes introducing yourself, your brand, and unique offerings. This step is a make or break for you and an opportunity to say something about what you do and what customers love about your business.

Some common forms of sales collateral include:

  • Capabilities decks — These are visual presentations for investors. You flash visuals while you talk about your agency’s growth and where it’s heading.
  • Proposals— Proposals are documents which outline your proposed solution to a specific client.
  • Sales decks— These are presentations for prospective clients that need convincing to commit to a purchase.
  • Sales sheets — Sales sheets are flyers or a one-pager that discuss the customer’s challenges and the solutions your product or service offers.
  • Contracts— The written agreement between the buyer and the agency.

Sales collateral helps you convey the benefits and advantages potential clients will get when they start working with you. Collateral is a storytelling guide for your clients to help them grasp and deepen their understanding of your organization.

Step 5: Document Questions and Objections

One of the unavoidable steps in the sales process is facing obstacles and handling objections. You’re talking to a person with a brain, remember? They’re going to ask questions and have some concerns you’ll need to overcome if you want to make them a client.

So, marketing managers and sales reps must know how to deal with concerns the potential client may raise, pain points from investors, and questions from prospects. The challenge here is to act under pressure.

Easiest way to do that? Acknowledge the questions and objections and present specific solutions to objections, questions, and concerns.

Many managers and sales reps will just nod their heads during a presentation and forget what they are nodding for, but this should not be the case. Take time to jot down as many questions as possible and not just rely on memory on portions of the pitch or the agreement that need clarifying.

This way, the potential client knows you’re engaged and determined to win their YES(es) at the end of the day.

Step 6: Close the Deal! And track metrics 

After gracefully answering the prospects’ concerns, now’s your time to shine and close that deal.

First, negotiate with the revised conditions and terms and let them know you’re willing to agree.

Next, steer them in the direction of having a done deal.

Ask about their review and payment process and the timeline that goes along with it.

Next, confirm details like invoices, contract finalization, and endorsement with the sales operation team.

The last sales process step of onboarding and tracking clients is just around the corner for a project manager.

Why is it important to also track metrics after closing the deal?

Sales metrics monitor your agency’s progress. They allow you to see exactly who and what marketing techniques are working.

Accessing and analyzing this critical data allows you to reassessing the current sales process to see if it is still suitable for your business’s needs or needs updating.

Sales metrics also tell you about the customer and how advantageous they are to your agency’s bottom line. Obtain reports on relevant sales or marketing agency processes like the sales conversion rate, customer lifetime value, and customer retention rate.

Step 7: Continue Nurturing Customers

The sales process doesn’t end once your lead becomes a prospect and then a paying customer.

Customer success lies in your ability to retain existing clients and open an opportunity for cross-selling other related products or services. Or up selling the existing ones that they have previously purchased.

Customer success isn’t all about obtaining bigger and better profits. It’s also about offering something of value to foster a deeper relationship.

Keep in mind that customers want to be constantly taken care of and treated like kings and queens. So constant check-in with the client creates a great aftersales approach.

Days after the purchase, check in with clients to know if they’re content. Check in again a few weeks after purchase for issues or concerns.

Months after the purchase, check in with the client again to see if they’re still happy with their purchase and if they are, then ask for a referral. They’re more likely to give one if they’re satisfied!

Optimizing Your Marketing Agency Sales Process

Refine Your Sales Process Continuously

Now that you’ve created a suitable sales process for yourself, implement it with your marketing agency and test it. Again and again.

Give yourself one chance, and if you’re not happy with it, tweak it according to the reports from your marketing team. Measure the results again and fine-tune the sales process steps to improve the weaker parts that need improving.

Some questions to ask:

  • Is my outbound sales working for me?
  • Do my social channels target content creation for new clients?
  • Will expansion to one platform level up my content marketing and close more deals?
  • Is my marketing budget enough for current client work?

If you’re ready to max your revenue and optimize your sales process, ScaleTime is here for your agency.

Know what you’re selling, understand your goals and define your metrics, delegate sales and track your sales process progress with our Sales Toolkit.

Align Your Sales Process with the Buyer’s Journey

Pushing for sales and hard-selling is now a thing of the past. Likewise, sales tactics that aren’t based on the buyer’s needs are no longer as effective as they once were.

For success in today’s world, you’ve gotta align the sales process with the buyer’s journey.

A buyer’s journey is the path people take when making a purchase.

Even when if you’re looking at an impulse buy, the client still silently undergoes the process of becoming aware, considering, and deciding to purchase.

This journey challenges sales reps to better understand the buyer’s needs and know when to influence their thinking and decision-making at the right time with the tactics that will have the most impact.

Marketing Agency Sales Process

The buyer’s journey is composed of 3 stages:

1. Awareness stage — This is where the buyer acknowledges or recognizes they’ve got a problem.

SALES ACTION:

Help the client. This is the stage where you inform and educate clients but not in a pushy way. Instead, provide them with the resources that can help them.

2. Consideration stage — This is when the buyer thinks about and contemplates the options they have to solve the problem.

SALES ACTION:

Make clients understand how your products and services solve their problems. Studying how competitors affect buyers at this stage will also help gauge how you can successfully influence their perception.

3. Decision stage — This is the stage where the buyer decides and selects the answer to the problem

SALES ACTION:

Clarify any objections they might have to make your selling position unique. Assist buyers in selecting and choosing the right product and service for their needs.

Once the marketing team understands the buyer’s journey and behavior at certain places in it, it becomes much easier to incorporate the sales process, influence their decision, and select the right product or service for them.

Measure Results

To optimize the process, measure the results of the implemented steps.

For example:

  • Who are the prospects that moved to the next stage of the sales process?
  • What has made them move to the next step?
  • What can you do to improve these numbers?

Set benchmarks for conversions if you’re the founder, so they know what to hit when you bring on a sales team. Check on your competition’s performance and identify which areas you are good at and which areas to improve.

Always make the sales metrics visible to the sales team. This will create transparency and help motivate and inspire the sales team members in their performance, enhance their production, and design better sales strategies.

Sales Process vs. Sales Methodology

Marketing Agency Sales Process

As one of the final notes, remember not to confuse the sales process with sales methodology. These are concepts commonly interchanged but are separate yet related sales concepts.

The sales process is the steps and tasks needed to acquire new clients and close more deals. The sales process steps are the what of the sales team.

On the other hand, the sales methodology is the how or the framework that makes up sales processes and techniques. Sales methodology is the driving force behind recognizing a marketing agency’s need to expand through sales.

Also, it’s essential to consider the perfect methodology that works well with your sales team. This will significantly impact the sales process and attract and retain profitable clients.

Key Takeaway

Not all clients are quality clients, and not all marketing strategies will work in your favor.

Therefore, it is essential to consider carefully planning the sales process steps, using appropriate sales methodology, reviewing and assessing key performance indicators, and improving the entire marketing agency sales process to build strong relationships with your leads, prospects, existing and new customers.

Action steps:

  • Pinpoint your qualified lead demographics
  • Identify your target market and create marketing materials that resonate with your target audience
  • Determine your specific sales cycle
  • Map the buyer’s journey, and create sales collateral to close the deal
  • Track your metrics. Analyze, optimize, and repeat

Get quality sales with our Streamlined Sales Process for marketing agencies and watch your digital marketing agency grow and take on new heights!

Contact us today to learn more.

Marketing Agency Sales Process

Here are 3 Easy Solutions that Stop Scope Creep in your Digital Marketing Agency

Office employees managing scope creep

Aside from that time you discovered you lack resources and have feisty unpredictable clients, allowing scope creep to happen is the most dreaded moments in your project’s life cycle.

Scope creep is the wolf at the door of every digital marketing agency. But that doesn’t make the dreaded scope creeper an inevitable (and uninvited) guest at the project execution table. To strike the scope creep monster in the heart with a silver bullet, you need a suite of solutions and processes.

The good news is, with scope creep always lurking around the corner, you can still protect your project scope. We’ll give you easy and manageable solutions in this post.

Ready to beat that scope creep? Let’s hit it right between the eyes with the following agency weapons.

Download our Project Management Checklist

What are the signs of scope creep in project management?

Project scope creep happens when you encounter changes after implementing the project plan. When the client asks for additional tasks or makes change requests not included in the initial project scope document, it messes up the costs, resources, and the project timeline.

Unfortunately, it also messes you up, and that’s something you definitely don’t want.

Having different stakeholders in the mix entails a handful of minds running in different directions all at once. Too many cooks in the kitchen equals scope creep.

When the shadow of scope creep darkens the land of your digital marketing agency, your team members and clients will:

  • inputs into the planned task list
  • Suggest additional features not included in the original project requirements
  • Implement their own unsolicited opinions on the project team’s scope of work
  • Make other small requests that harsh your agency mellow

True, additional new features on the final output make the client happy and ecstatic. That’s all good. But along the way, if the requests have bypassed the change control process, it’s an indication of scope creep.

Can your agency handle scope creep?

Scope creep may start as a deviation from what was initially agreed upon and outlined in the project plan. As a project manager, you might be afraid to negotiate with new clients, so you accommodate any new change request that hits your inbox.

But then, just two weeks later, your team members have already missed deadlines!

What you need are boundaries.

Prevent scope creep: Your first line of defense

Setting boundaries and going with a planned project schedule helps manage scope creep and prevent it from further ruining your timeline.

In most cases, clients boundary-stomp inadvertently. They might think that making revision requests ASAP is doing you a favor. But if these change requests are made outside the scope of the original (or even modified) project brief, then it falls under the scope creep umbrella.

And these little twists and turns aren’t doing you any favors.

Project scope creep is that freeloader friend in your apartment, who doesn’t pay rent on time or take out the trash.

You’re oh so nice. So you don’t say anything. You simmer and brood instead.

Next thing you know, your crummy roommate is inviting over their party animal friends, eating your leftover lo mein, and doing shots off your heirloom Stickley coffee table

Despite all the boundary-stomping, maybe you don’t want the friendship to end. But you might have saved the relationship early by communicating the house rules and learning when to say no.

3 ways to prevent scope creep in your digital agency

Scope Creep Managment

So, how do you help you help your clients help you, and prevent scope creep? Let’s get into the top strategies for managing scope creep next.

Revisit the project scope and document all changes

The first strategy you’ll want to deploy is monitoring the project schedule after the planning process. Unfortunately, it’s usually in the project execution phase that project scope creep occurs. And when it happens it snowballs, becomes even harder to stop scope creep from taking over your project.

Example:

A client asks for a new website, complete with personal branding and product uploading. All is well in the land of new client projects.

But wait! Not so fast.

Your team members suddenly receive a call from the client seeking to change the color scheme and theme.

Ruh roh. This will affect your specialists’ and developers’ tasks and will undoubtedly divert from the originally agreed project scope.

Handling new requests on the fly

Digital marketing agencies can easily face this problem head on and prevent scope creep while changing with market demands and keeping clients happy, too.

How?

Project managers must formalize any deviation from the original project scope via a change control process.

Why does this work so well? Because it allows project managers to accurately track project requirements and project deliverables.

A modification, or change request, not included in the existing project plan must be meticulously documented to ensure the change is accounted for and that changes to the schedule are anticipated and addressed.

Balancing team member’s expertise and bandwidth

Managing scope creep adequately also means balancing your project team members’ expertise and time.

For example, when emergencies cause human resources to fall behind, or team members prefer working on better projects, these also lead to scope creep in the existing and future project timelines.

In addition, project plan alterations can mess up other projects and delay these projects’ timelines.

Start with clearer communication

A successful project outcome can’t happen if you and the client have poor communication skills. You need good two-way communication.

Remember the exchanging of information between two or more parties? Yep. That.

It helps the project manager avoid scope creep when everyone involved knows how to listen and respond. Plus, it lets you know you’re on the same page with the clients and contractors involved in the project and execution process.

Host a kickoff meeting first.

Throwing a kickoff meeting with project stakeholders and project team members prevents scope creep from hamstringing your team.

A kickoff meeting lets you outline all the project details, no matter how small. It should be the the first meeting you have with all the parties who will participate in execution of the project.

What does a kickoff meeting include?

Ask away and get the answers to these most important questions:

  • What’s the project scope and summary?
  • How will we handle bottlenecks and contingencies?
  • Who’s working together on which deliverables?
  • What’s a reasonable turnaround time for each milestone?

As a project manager, you must communicate with project participants. And it’s also crucial that you and everyone working on the project (and the client) fully understand the project scope document.

Avoid too much verbal-only communication

To manage scope creep adequately, you need to communicate in black and white. You need to document, document, document!

Why?

  • Documentation keeps people accountable
  • It prevents confusion
  • Everyone can stay on the same page

Contracts, spreadsheets, written agreements — the sky’s the limit.

Documentation action steps

As a project manager, be sure to double-check your most important documents, such as clients’ waivers and amendments.

Have collaborators review and sign the documents. Spend time reading everything. Clear up any misunderstandings regarding additional fees and tasks, so you aren’t shortchanged.

What happens if scope creep starts a’creepin’?

Once scope creep begins sneaking in, inform stakeholders of the current project status and what actions you and the team must take to avoid further diversion from the project scope.

Never mislead your clients or team members. And make sure you know when to say no to client requests that will knock the project off course.

Gently remind your clients of the original scope if necessary to avoid further misunderstandings.

Also, keep in mind that information dissemination is a two-way street.

Avoiding scope creep means listening to client feedback during project milestones. Let them know upfront what to expect, so you’re meeting their expectations and keeping your clients happy.

Project managers, it’s never too late to use powerful project management software

Digital agencies face scope creep more than most businesses out there. Fortunately, you’ve got tons of tools and software at your disposal.

Chances are, there’s app out there that can help with your specific project management issues.

At first, it might seem tricky to start, install, set up, and invest in the app’s premium features. But, you’ll see how the setup is worth it once you’re halfway through your project — scrambling through receipts, folders, and papers. Or hitting CTRL+F in your spreadsheets to locate something your team created yesterday. And no one can find it.

But we want to stress — picking a gem from the millions of software tools on the market isn’t enough to fully protect a project’s scope.

Managing project scope creep: Implement efficient project management software.

Managing scope creep

Project managers utilize the right tools to watch resource allocation, change control processes, firm parameters, specific details on project goal updates, and overall, complete project work.

An effective project management tool or app lets you automate and sync, so you can do more with your time, putting everything into place and passing on essential updates to your clients and your team. All in real-time.

Project management software lets you keep an eye on additional requests from the agreed-upon scope to avoid missing deadlines.

Additionally, it lets you see the big picture and observe human resource utilization and capacity and your budget and cost savings. Reports are also automatically generated to help you analyze data and forecast the need for extra contractors or team members.

Bottom line: Scope creep-proof your agency!

In an ideal setting, you create a project plan, meet with your client, brief your team, execute the project and move on to your next assignment.

But this is the real world. And in the real world, it’s not that simple.

There will always people and events that make scope creep happen and cause you to lose control of the project. Scope creep-proofing your digital marketing agency may not mean eliminating scope creep totally.

Instead, implementing the tools and processes necessary to prevent scope creep prepares you for it.

Preparation also helps minimize your worries of scope creep developing into a larger, unmanageable boulder blocking your way to project completion.

Implement these 3 easy solutions to avoid scope creep and save the day:

  • Monitor your project scope and record all the changes
  • Constantly communicate with project members
  • Use reliable project management tools

With these solutions, you’ll stop potential changes in your project scope in their tracks with ease.

No doubt about it.

Manage scope creep with the help of ScaleTime!

Our Agency Project Management Checklist gives you access to vital project requirements, including 80/20 must-haves, key document templates, valuable metrics, and other features that optimize your project and team members’ expertise.

Streamline your process and say goodbye to lack of productivity.

Download the checklist here.

How to Manage Scope Creep in Your Digital Marketing Agency

Managing scope creep is a key part of project management.

Look at you, plucky project manager. You’re on your way to your fourth and much-anticipated milestone — setting up the last few details of your project plan! Yes!

Put your dancing shoes on, ’cause you’re about to party after this successful closing.

But wait, what’s that? The phone. It’s ringing. And it’s your client.

Womp womp womp.

All they want is just a tiny change in the deliverables.

Ugh. You thought you were on the same page with them. But no. You’ve gotta take off the dancing shoes, and put on the shi$ kicker boots instead.

Now you’re worried the project will fail with a big, fat F.

Where will you get the additional funds?

How will you tell the contractors? Or adjust the timeline?

And will there be any other more changes in the future?

So many questions are running through your head. So much for the party after completing the project. Dreams. Crushed.

As a project manager, you’re expected to manage, and protect against, scope creep over the project schedule duration.

Scope creep management: Why you need it.

Scope creep management allows the entire team (and clients) to stay on track with project goals, protect everyone’s bandwidth from hidden agendas, maintain overall job breakdown structure, and balance resource allocation.

So, are you up to mitigating scope creep? Yes? Good. Let’s get your digital marketing agency streamlined and ready to take on anything — even those last minute client requests.

What is Project Scope Creep?

It’s not as pervy as it sounds. But scope creep is super annoying. Scope creep is that thing that happens when clients make those little requests throughout the project schedule, throwing off your carefully laid plans.

Scope creep issues drastically impact the project’s schedule, cost, or final deliverables. You can start out with a particular project and know precisely how long it will take to complete, what all the deliverables will look like, and what it will cost.

But darn that scope creep!

If you don’t get a handle on it early, you’ll end up with a completely different project at the end. And a stressed out team, and possibly irate clients.

It’s like going to a bakery for a custom cake. But when you go to pick up your chocolate cake with buttercream icing and a dusting of coconut shavings on top, you’re presented instead with a bicycle tied together with duct tape and a cardboard kickstand.

That is not what you signed up for.

So, these scope creep changes can, at most, entirely block the project’s progress. Or, they can result in different, low-quality deliverables.

Good news — hope is not lost when the scope starts creeping.

Learning how to avoid scope creep, and manage project scope with finesse is possible. It’s also a must if you want to advance in your career as a project manager. Changes in project scope are pretty much par for the course in this field of work.

Before we get into how to manage scope creep, let’s take a closer look at what often causes these hiccups in the road to successful project completion.

Common scope creep causes:

  • Miscommunication during the project planning phase. Goals end up being completely different
  • Outside forces like economic and environmental conditions impacting the project schedule
  • Project politics or leadership drama resulting in confusion among the project team members
  • Ad spend, milestone, or deliverable changes

This list isn’t exhaustive, but you get the picture. Let’s dive into some examples of scope creep next.

Examples of what scope creep is and isn’t

Let’s take the example of a website client. The client asks for a slightly different website redesign that you and your team agreed on at a specific price. Technically, that’s not considered scope creep.

Maybe they want the Green Tea instead of Black Coffee theme. No biggie. It doesn’t cost anymore, or take anymore time to manage this change.

But this is scope creep:

Instead, the client tells you over the phone to add all the optimization, integrated social media accounts, and advertisements to your new site. This is more time. More money. And totally different sets of milestones.
It’s not just a redesign job anymore. This is way more involved and an example of scope creep.

Keep in mind, scope creep doesn’t always show up as a whole phase or section of the project being modified. Often it starts as tiny, minimal alterations to the original scope.

Adjusting the website to match the client’s new branding palette midway through the project, for example, would add unforeseen time to your team’s work schedule. This is way different than what you and the team bargained for, and would be classified as scope creep.

Most cases of scope creep are innocent.

But occasionally, one party might have a hidden agenda. A lack of awareness of scope creep can put your agency at risk from disingenuous clients who make a deal for one deliverable but plan to sneak other projects in under the same umbrella.

This is no bueno and it’s the type of scope creep you want to avoid at all costs.

Project Management and Scope Creep

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), project scope is the work required to output the project deliverables.

Project managers must characterize the project scope at the outset. If alteration requests should occur, they must undergo a formal change management process. This protects everyone’s sanity from the insanity of a project going off the rails from scope creep.

What’s in a project’s scope? That which we call a creep by another other name is still a creep.

So, the scope of a project must include a breakdown of work to be done and instructions for any changes.

Any changes throughout the project must enforce a step-by-step procedure that follows the change management process.

Like so:

When it comes to working without a tight project scope, you’ve got to learn how to maximize your project method and use it to your team’s advantage.

Project failure comes in different forms, including:

  • Poor estimation and prioritization
  • Disagreement on how to handle changes
  • A lack of sign offs,
  • Missing review processes to manage change requests

Now that we’ve defined scope creep and project scope, let’s dive into how to avoid scope creep or mitigate scope creep should it occur.

How can you control scope creep?

Project scope creep happens to the best project management teams. Use these tools and tactics to keep your projects on task and in-budget as your team heads for the glorious finish line.

Create a project budget

Often, the biggest risk you can take on if you don’t wrangle that scope creep beast is budgeting issues. Wasted time is wasted money. And taking on seemingly small changes to the project that aren’t in the budget will nickel and dime your agency into the poorhouse.

So, protecting the project budget is mission critical.

The project budget should be adequately defined during the project’s planning phase. Include project stakeholders — your client and each team member — during the process. Agree on a precise project budget based on properly calculated estimates.

Deficient budget estimates in a project plan can cause delays in the later part of the project, which is a sure sign that scope creep is already developing. A comprehensible project budget will also limit requests for additional funding, if not totally eliminate them.

Estimations

Estimations should be based on proper research together with the project team. Collaborate on the estimates and avoid making wild guesses. When using a pricing model, consider both time and resources to develop a more precise estimate and prevent scope creep in project management.

As a digital marketing agency, progress payments are essential to ensuring your revenue or, at the very least, some working capital. Invoicing for work done in advance can also update you on the volume of work you’ve already completed and help you cover any ongoing expenses.

You must invest time considering all costs involved in the most efficient manner. Any budget proposals and cost breakdown issues should be cleared before executing the project.

That way, you can meet clients’ deliverables on time and uphold your agency’s reputation in carrying out the project scope.

Face ALL change requests

The best project managers handle each change request as it arises.

Getting back to change requests that arise during the project’s duration is one of the most critical responsibilities involved in scope management. Even though you know this is a tedious, time-consuming task, you’ve still got to do it.

In any project, scope creep arises from not answering these requests.

It may take up a whole day or just a few minutes before you clock out to answer these requests. But regardless, they need to be addressed promptly, no matter what.

Remember to inform all parties involved, so they know all the measures and steps necessary to fulfill amended project requirements and still ace at preventing scope creep. But more on communication later.

All the approved, rejected, and resolved change requests must be organized and logged in the project’s change plans.

According to PMI, this allows reviewing and adequately documenting all requests and integrating them while considering all possible project risks.

Conduct a special meeting called a risk workshop and include appropriate risk responses to minimize unforeseen considerations.

Create a timeline and stick to it.

A clear work breakdown structure helps reduce scope creep.

The ideal setup is creating a timeline and following it to the letter. However, in every project plan, there will always be unavoidable bumps.

The key here is simple:

Be realistic about what you can accomplish in the allotted project timeline.

Define detailed requirements and milestones with project team members. Give space for contingencies and allow some wiggle room and flexibility while creating your timeline.

Doing so will assist you in maintaining your schedule and provide you with the opportunity to regroup and prioritize or de-prioritize tasks and change requests.

You also need to consider how quickly each team member can work so you’ll have an idea of how long they’ll take to complete the various assignments.

But not so fast — creating a timetable doesn’t end there.

You have to keep track of it consistently, religiously. Watch out for red flags outside your control like marketing conditions and global phenomena that may affect prices, contractors, and even clients’ businesses, which can trigger change requests.

Set REASONABLE boundaries

A lack of boundaries can lead to failed projects when scope creep occurs.

  • Don’t take on more than you can handle. Be willing to say no to a particular project phase when necessary.
  • Be transparent and practical when laying down the project limitations with a specific time, cost, and scope.
  • Include these in the scope management plan.
  • Don’t hesitate to inform key stakeholders of the realistic expectations on the project scope before work begins.

Addressing boundaries is also a confident move to preserve leadership and authority as a project manager. It minimizes a project’s complexity and keeps you in control of the situation and your schedule.

You may have said yes to a few requests. But the ability to contain the damage and work within the given resources should remain intact for the project’s duration.

Five-star communication

Communicative change control processes keeps the whole team in the loop

Constantly update all involved parties on the progress, timelines, missed deadlines, and expectations.

Poor communication can result in surprises — unpleasant surprises, that is.

Remember, changes in the agreed-upon scope with the key stakeholders and project sponsor are not considered scope creep.

On the other hand, scope creep is when you have poor communication among stakeholders, disorganized documentation of new features, and out-of-date change control systems. These issues doom projects to failure.

Your project deliverables may be reaching a five-star rating. But, if your project teams’ communication is merely a one-star meh, you need help addressing scope creep.

All new requests based on the original scope should undergo the standard change management process, including:

  • updating new features
  • Documenting project charter amendments
  • Ensuring you’re on the same page with modifications in the scope statement.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Laying out expectations, budgets, and having a process for managing scope creep change requests is critical for your agency’s reputation and revenue.

Bottom Line for Project Managers

Consider looking at scope creep positively. It’s a type of change, and change is the only thing permanent in this world.

If you can’t see what’s missing or putting unnecessary stress on your systems, then you’ll have no opportunity to grow into the best project manager EVAH if you don’t allow for some scope change as the project runs its course.

Sure, handling scope creep is a challenging part of being a project manager. But one of the good things for today’s project managers is that technology is readily available to help you see through the despair and onward to the wins of change.

Pro tip:

Monitor change requests, work progress, invoices, and payments through reliable project management software.

A handy project management tool paired with a powerful agency framework can help you unite your team and spare you from the effort of juggling phone calls and client visits while taking care of your spreadsheets.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Let ScaleTime show you the way to better project management.

Scope management plans for successful projects are made easy with ScaleTime. Handle scope creep in project management by optimizing your digital agency’s systems and processes. Let us help you automate and streamline your business by downloading the Agency Project Management Checklist here!

How to Know if We Have More Strategic Implementation Issues Than We Think

Strategic implementation is key to business performance.

Business strategy is the backbone of your company. It’s the strategic plan directing your company to the pathway of success and achieving your goals.

Well, that certainly sounds simple, right?

Not.

Constructing an effective business strategy plan is one thing. Implementing it though? That’s an entirely different, major step.

You’ve got to execute the implementation well to ensure the company’s competitive status in the market, continue its ventures, satisfy your customers, and achieve your goals.

In this post, we’ll break it down so you can spot these top signs of wonky implementation and straighten them out:

  1. The company isn’t growing anymore.
  2. Your employees aren’t responding to directives.
  3. Customers and partners don’t want to work with you.
  4. Competitors are catching up.
  5. Qualified employees are scarce.
  6. Growth has stalled and there’s no progress in the recent reports.
  7. You’re having difficulty making decisions.

But first, coffee.

Fill up that mug. We’re gonna get into your strategic planning must-haves first.

Your strategic planning must-haves

We’ve got to make sure your have the necessary resources, manpower, and systems in place that will conform to the strategies set forth in your plan.

So why is this important?

Because this is the deal-breaker in business. These courses of action will tell if the business plan is effective or not, and by not, we mean the plan is failing.

Sound easy? Not gonna lie. It’s kind of hard.

But the things which are hard, are most worth doing.

Executing business strategies is another big challenge to conquer.

What makes the implementation so difficult? Where do problems come from? What are the key performance indicators (KPIs)? Is it the company’s method, manpower, or the systems?

Strategic issues are conflicts or problems without apparent solutions. Because if there is an obvious solution, the question is, why wasn’t it addressed in the first place?

Identifying all the issues with strategy execution in strategic management exposes the strategy’s cracks and helps you determine the next course of action.

So, let’s discuss the major signs pointing to any underlying cracks in your strategic implementation process.

1.  The company isn’t growing

A new business venture needs to meet the goals and objectives of its key stakeholders.

Growth is the most important factor to measure a business’s success. A growing company means it’s expanding in multiple ways.

Although there’s no single way to measure growth, we have different points where we can determine if the company is becoming stagnant or isn’t growing anymore.

  • Profits and losses reports are not changing.
  • Office tasks are repetitive.
  • You’re not getting new customers.

We may think that it’s easy to spot these signs. But finding out which parts of the strategic plans are the root causes of these issues is the real challenge.

Maybe, the strategic planning process is too slow responding to current changes in the marketplace. Technology, disasters, political conflicts, and pandemics are factors that may not be addressed in strategic implementation.

Still, as we see nowadays, these issues affect businesses in ways we haven’t witnessed before.

The bottom line is, you can’t just react. You have to anticipate. As such, a successful strategy implementation process must be action-oriented.

2.  Employees aren’t responding to directives

A plan is just a plan if the team responsible don't support successful implementation.

If the strategic plan is the backbone of the business, then, employees are the most critical resources. So, helping them engage in the company and reach their full potential can be rewarding for both the employer and the employee.

But at the same time, it can be disappointing if employees don’t carry out their given instructions or accomplish their specific tasks. This is a sign pointing to something wrong in the strategic implementation plan.

Top reasons why employees become unresponsive

The main reasons employees underperform and become unresponsive are:

  • They don’t know what is expected from them
  • The company’s environment doesn’t empower team effort
  • The tasks delegated to employees don’t align with their skills or level of capability
  • They don’t feel they are contributing to the company, so they don’t feel appreciated.

Solving this issue requires reviewing the key components in implementation planning and highlighting how employees can participate in the company as decision makers.

As a result, employees and team members involved will be empowered. They’ll understand how their efforts contribute directly to the company’s progress — while also allowing them to grow personally and financially.

3. Customers and partners don’t want to work with you

Strategic objectives are key to ensuring buy in from clients and other stakeholders.

Customers are the lifeblood of the business. They provide the cash that keeps the brand alive. So, their needs are the foundation of the product or service we offer and propel the company’s further development.

But how do you know if customers aren’t satisfied?

  • They rarely or never complain because they’re tired of doing so.
  • They don’t care about special offers.
  • They rely on the contract conditions because they don’t trust customer service anymore.

To ensure success, you have to understand your customers’ concerns and let them know you hear them and will respond. You’ve got to review your business plan and present an immediate solution to the customer’s complaints.

On the other hand, business partners might need to give you additional access to funding, resources, innovation, and knowledge to help you reach more customers successfully. But what if your business partners don’t want to work with you anymore?

That often indicates strategic plan issues.

Some telltale signs a business partnership is about to end:

  • Collapse in communication
  • Business partner is no longer contributing
  • Frequent conflicting business decisions
  • Changes in partner’s goals

You can’t ignore these warning signs. You must have an open discussion with your wavering partner and let them voice their concerns without judgment. It’s also a good idea to seek outside help or a third party to mediate and resolve the problems.

4.  Competitors are catching up or overtaking your brand in the market

Day-to-day performance management includes staying ahead of the competition.

Keeping your thumb on the pulse of your business competitors is a significant factor in your brand’s ultimate success.

Aside from the current competition you have, new contenders are constantly entering the market. And that’s why it’s important to know where you stand amongst the competition.

So, how do you know if your competitors are catching up or overtaking your brand?

While comparing revenue is the easiest way to know who’s leading the pack, there are other signs indicating if competitors are pulling in more marketshare. And by extension, your clientele:

  • Clients or customers are querying about new products
  • Customers’ feedback is changing
  • You’re missing opportunities for innovation
  • The availability of resources has changed

Good strategic planning with an emphasis on the key initiatives of the sales and marketing teams will prevent your business from drowning in the competition. Know your competitors, what they’re up to, and what they’re offering in the marketplace.

Competing is about retaining and attracting new customers. Knowing your target customers and how their expectations are changing will help you adjust the strategic plan so the product or service you offer remains appealing.

Check the latest craze in social media since it’s the easiest way to assess the market.

5.  You can’t find qualified employees

Adequate resources - both financial resources and human resources - are needed for project success.

Qualified employees are needed to execute the strategic plan successfully.

Although the unemployment rate has gone down, believe it or not, finding qualified employees is still one of the biggest struggles in the business industry.  The reasons are the demand for qualified employees surpasses the supply, salary, location of the company, changes in the needs of the employees, and a flawed hiring process.

How can we solve these problems and get all the necessary skills in the company from new hires? Consider an organizational change and review the business plan. Fix each of the issues mentioned above.

Here are some of the ways to overcome this particular business challenge:

  • Build the company’s reputation.
  • Don’t settle for less. Make use of the interview process to assess and screen the qualifications of each applicant.
  • Adapt to the needs of employees, and allow employees to work remotely if possible.
  • Add cool, unique perks and benefits.
  • Build a consistent and organized hiring process.

Button up your hiring process with our FREE Hiring Toolkit.

6.  Growth has stalled and there’s no clear way forward

A successfully implemented performance management system will be visible in the company's metrics.

Businesses, whether big or small, often experience rapid growth at first. But then growth significantly slows for some reason.

When we focus solely on selling products or services, we often forget the importance of strategy and innovation. As a result, the business growth plateaus.

So, what are the most common culprits behind business growth slowdown?

  • A weak or outdated strategic policy plan
  • Flawed pricing technique
  • Leadership has become too complacent
  • You’re playing it safe

Tossing money aggressively at the problems won’t solve them. It’s time to go back to the strategic plan and see what can be fixed.

Here are some ways to address this problem and give the business a new direction:

  • Re-evaluate the strategy plan and update it so it’s relevant to market changes.
  • Don’t focus on lowering the prices. Instead, try adding value to the product or service.
  • Don’t blend in. Stand out in a crowded market.
  • Bring back the enthusiasm, reignite the passion, and make tough organizational decisions.

As soon as the problems are resolved, start moving forward and shift direction to invigorate new life into the business.

7.  You’re struggling with decision making

Using a SWOT analysis can help identify the strategic initiatives needed from upper management.

An effective strategic implementation boils down to the ability of the team to make fast and precise decisions about which course of actions the organization should take.

But if the team struggles to make these critical decisions, it can impede the company’s growth and survival.

Why is making decisions quickly and precisely so difficult?

Fear.

The fear of making the wrong decision and suffering negative consequences stops the team from doing it in the first place. In some cases, the organization may not have the sufficient resources or the right tools to help the team comprehend and handle a significant problem. Also, the team making the big decisions may not know enough about the problem, and so, can’t come up with a good solution.

No matter how complicated or straightforward the decisions are, we can do something to outline the fundamentals for great-decision making practice.

Here are some:

  • Empower the team and encourage them to learn from failures.
  • Seek an outside expert’s help if necessary.
  • Be transparent with your team.

Honesty, and fostering a company culture of growth and learning prevents people from shying away from making the necessary, tough decisions.

Conclusion

When these not-so-obvious pitfalls in business are detected early, it’s much easier to solve them or avoid them altogether.

Strategic planning and successful implementation and execution aren’t a leap of faith. They’re an outcome of a thorough, critical study and implementation of sound, fundamental business practices.

So, your action steps:

  • Be brave enough to pivot and change direction
  • Keep an eye on your competitors and revamp your offerings to exceed consumer expectations
  • Seek outside, expert help if necessary
  • Button up your hiring processes
  • Foster a company culture of honesty, growth, and learning
  • Empower your team members to learn from their mistakes
  • Communicate effectively with customers and business partners

Feel like something is off with your business processes, but aren’t sure what it is? Take our FREE agency growth assessment quiz to see where things are falling short. We’ll send you a bundle of resources tailored to scaling your agency.

Let’s do it!