Project Kick-Off Meeting Agenda: Banish Scope Creep [Template Inside]

Picture this: You’ve onboarded a fantastic client. You’re psyched to get started and it’s time to hand the project off to the account manager.

The next step is easy: everyone can just jump right in and start cracking on those deliverables! Time to pour yourself a cold one.

* record scratch *

Eh, not so fast there, Kemosabe.

Shut the fridge door! Before you get started, you need to hold a project kick-off meeting.

Okay, what is this and why do you need it?

A project kickoff meeting is a critical step in any successful project. It gets your whole team on the same page, aligns the sales team, account manager, and deliverables team, and helps avoid unnecessary (and time-consuming) bottlenecks.

Sound good? Yeah, it’s a pretty great tool for scaling. But most importantly, a project kickoff meeting helps you avoid dreaded, costly, frustrating scope creep.

Nobody got time for that.

During a project kickoff meeting, you’ll cover topics like:

  • What exactly did sales promise the client?
  • Are there any special considerations for the client or project?
  • What’s the expected turnaround time?

Think about it: how can your team run a successful project that leaves the client happy without a project kickoff meeting? Skip that step, and you’re missing a crucial part of the delivery process.

Fortunately, it’s easy to run a successful project kickoff meeting that leaves every member of your team informed, aligned, and ready to dive in and get things done. The result is promises delivered and happy clients for your agency.

Ready to learn more about how you can master the project kickoff meeting process? Get the scoop below.

What is a Project Kickoff Meeting?

A project kickoff meeting is the first official meeting between the client and the team working on the project.

Wondering when to hold a project kickoff meeting? Great question.

Typically, it takes place after the agency has officially onboarded a client. Your team and the client have already agreed on details like the scope of work and the budget.

So where does a kickoff meeting fit into the equation? The kickoff meeting is your time to learn as much as you can about the client, their expectations, and their goals.

A well-organized kickoff meeting agenda covers topics like:

  • The project’s main objectives
  • Team members’ primary responsibilities
  • The high-level scope of the project
  • Assumptions that went into the planning process
  • The proposed schedule for delivery and review

In a lot of cases, there’ll be more topics covered in a project kickoff meeting. But apart from defining the whats and whys, a project kickoff meeting should also cover the hows, providing a clear direction and strategy for the project in question.

Who Should Attend the Meeting?

Put your dancing shoes on ‘cause it’s a kickoff meeting partay! Who should get an invite?

As a general rule, project kickoff meetings should include everyone on your team who will be involved in the project. Or anyone who has a (direct or indirect) interest in it.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but the following people should probably get an invite:

  • The Project Team: The project team is your group of full-time and part-time resources who are working on the deliverables associated with the project. Depending on the type and scope of the project, this might include copywriters, designers, and project and account managers.
  • Project Sponsor: The project sponsor is the person (typically an executive) responsible for managing, administering, funding, and monitoring the project. To put it another way: the project sponsor is the person who makes sure work is getting done and that the project is on-track for delivery.
  • Project Stakeholders: The project stakeholders are the specific group of people who have an internal or external interest in the project’s successful outcome. These people may be members of your team or members of the client’s creative team.

While this is a general outline of the people who should be included in a project kickoff meeting, it’s important to remember that each meeting and project is different. Include anyone who is important to the project and its successful completion.

Why do You Need a Meeting Agenda?

The start of a new project can feel a little overwhelming. There’s a lot of information flying around. You’re dealing with a new client, a new project, a new set of goals, and a lot of metrics and KPIs in-between.

Is chaos inevitable? No way.

It’s processes that bridle the chaos, and turn it into an organized system so creativity can flow.

The best way to keep that information organized and make sure you don’t miss anything during the project kickoff meeting is to create a project kickoff meeting agenda.

Here are a few benefits of flexing a meeting agenda:

  • Increased clarity about the project, goals, and deliverables
  • A second (and third, and fourth) set of eyes on the project to make sure all questions are answered and details covered
  • The development of important next steps — including a project execution plan and direction

Good news, Amigo. You don’t have to start your kickoff meeting agenda from scratch. Let’s take a look at a few kickoff meeting use cases and sample agendas you can adapt for your agency.

Sample Kickoff Meeting Agenda: 5 Key Steps to Follow

While every project is different, it pays to have a well-defined structure before starting any kickoff meeting.

Here’s the project kickoff meeting template I swear by:

Step #1: Introduce the Team and Client

The kickoff meeting is a great time to make introductions. With that in mind, begin the meeting by congratulating everyone on the new project and thanking them for their time.

To ensure everyone is on the same page at the start of the meeting, ask a few key questions:

  • Has everyone been introduced?
  • Does everyone understand everyone else’s role in the project?
  • Is everyone familiar with the project’s deliverables and scope?
  • Does everyone understand the position of this project in the larger context of the company?

If the project involves people who have never worked together before, take some time to introduce everyone, provide some background, and explain how each team member fits into the project in question.

Step #2: Cover the Project Summary

You issued an intake form during the client onboarding process right? Be sure to do that. Because now’s the time to look over the responses.

This will help put the project in context and ensure everyone on your team understands things like:

  • What the project entails
  • Why it matters
  • Why it’s important to your client and team
  • Who the end-user of the site, product, content, etc. will be
  • Potential risks, constraints, difficulties, or roadblocks involved with the project

If there are any questions regarding the intake form or project summary, this is a great time to address them.

Step #3: Drill Down on the Approach

Typically, your agency will have already hammered out a Scope of Work (SOW) agreement before you sit down at the project kickoff meeting. Still, a successful kickoff meeting should cover the high-level scope of the project and, more importantly, the approach you plan to take to tackle the project.

Because most of the time, by the time they pay you they not only forgot what they paid you for and they want it done yesterday. #TheStrugleIsReal sooo…

Here are a few questions to ask and answer about the project scope:

  • What are the milestones and their delivery dates?
  • What tools, software, or platforms will you use to complete the project?
  • How will you address bottlenecks, time crunches, risks, compliance issues, etc. associated with the project?
  • Which team members or departments need to work together and communicate to get the project done?

Let the client know how your business and services work and agree upon the project scope.

Go through the timelines, estimates, statements of work, and anything else that’s applicable.

Remember your project management checklist? It was born for this. Get it out and start using it.

Step #4: Define Roles

For a project to run smoothly, everyone needs to understand who’s supposed to be doing what, and when. To this end, acknowledge your team’s unique assortment of skills, and be sure everyone understands their role on the project.

Before you leave the kickoff meeting, attendees should know:

  • What they’re supposed to be working on (including key milestones, the expectations for those milestones, and target delivery dates)
  • The KPIs or metrics that will be used to track success on those deliverables
  • Who else on the team they need to work with

If anyone has questions about their role or position in the project, answer them during this phase.

Step #5: Outline Next Steps

Next, come up with a project management plan to ensure that each attendee knows what comes next and what’s expected of them to drive the project to fruition. Set-up full project clarity before impatience takes over the meeting.

Make a plan for keeping everyone on the same page. This is the part where you talk about the collaboration tools you’ll be using, like Slack and Asana. You’ll also want to address how you’ll handle client questions that will inevitably arise during the project.

Discuss and clear misunderstandings regarding project objectives. Get all the questions out of the way before you start cracking on deliverables.

Bottom line: leave nothing to the imagination.

Wrapping up

To put it plainly: a project kickoff meeting is a must-do any time you start a new job.

In addition to helping you avoid unnecessarily time-consuming and (yikes) embarrassing miscommunications, a kickoff meeting puts every team member on the same page and makes it much easier to hit the ground running.

You can’t just waltz, or rather, stumble, into a kickoff meeting unprepared.

Instead, you need a project kickoff meeting agenda. An airtight and scalable kickoff meeting agenda keeps you and your team on track and all bases covered. Oh, and bonus — it makes your team look good, too.

Okay, let’s review your action steps:

  1. Introduce the team and provide background
  2. Review the project summary and client onboarding form responses
  3. Define and align the approach and scope of the project
  4. Specify roles, deliverables, and tools used to get the job done
  5. Plan to collaborate, communicate, and get started on the next steps

While no two project management kick-off meetings are the same, the template above is flexible enough to adapt for any meeting. The idea is that it provides a strong foundation to build from and customize. With this template, you’ve got a decent starting point every time you sit down to meet with a client.

Are you ready to execute your projects like a pro and scale up your business like never before? Check this case study on how a divorced single mom of two turned her side project into a growing business.

Project Management for Agencies

Feel like your projects are managing your team? Let’s wrangle that beast.

Poor project management kills quality, margins, and client retention, period.

And faking it until you make it just isn’t going to cut it.

Project management is a critical core competency and strategy made up of people, processes, and tools that agencies simply cannot grow without. Done right, it scales you into 7,8 and 9 figures.

Let’s S.C.A.L.E. your agency project management for maximum growth now

Where to begin? 

With so many tools like Asana, Monday, ClickUp, how do you know what’s best for your agency? And how do you ensure that your entire organization is using the tools so that you can budget, measure, and plan resources accordingly?

Because let’s face it. If everyone isn’t using the tools, no one is using the tools.

All that said, growth is very achievable and with a fully optimized project management machine in place, you’ll be in a position to onboard 2 or 3x as many clients at one time.

How? With S.C.A.L.E., our proprietary framework for pinpointing the bottlenecks, fixing them, and optimizing your internal and external business processes for maximum efficiency and growth.

Here’s how S.C.A.L.E. works to take your project management from meh to yeah!

S. See what’s happening

Every agency is different. The processes you use, either currently or ultimately, will determine precisely what you need from our suite of services to optimize your project management.

During the first part of S.C.A.L.E., we’ve got to see what’s hot and what’s not — where your project management is working and what’s falling through the cracks.

  • Are statuses being used so you can stay on track, on point, and with your head still firmly attached to your neck?
  • Can people find things or is it all a big jumbled mess of nope?
  • Can we measure team capacity accurately?
  • Do deadlines keep turning into just another week (or ten) lines?
  • Do clients consistently go over scope?

Once we figure out what you need to evolve and elevate your project management, it’s time to establish the baseline.

C. Create a Baseline

We all about that base up in this biznatch. You’ve got stuff that’s working, and some that isn’t. Before we can optimize anything, we need to know how well (or not so well) your current project management practices are going.

During this part of the S.C.A.L.E. framework, we take a temp check on the febrile dream that is your project management. Here, we establish a baseline for current practices, and we’ve only got one way to go from here — up.

Next up, we establish what’s working for your agency so we can optimize and amplify the good stuff.

A. Amplify how you do it

First and foremost, we aren’t going to come in and “blow it up”. We know you have a business to run and we’re jumping on a moving train. You won’t have to stop operations or deal with any sputtering in your revenue stream.

We’ll audit your current systems and processes, identify gaps and help you fill them on the fly. We’re here to enable agency growth, not stifle it.

With our tools, training, and support from our collaborative tribe of agency leaders we’ll:

  • Improve your current PM processes
  • Select and set up the right PM tools for your business
  • Establish rules and parameters for dedicated process communication channels
  • Centralize client and team documents so they’re easy to find
  • Create repeatable workflows so you’re not reinventing the wheel
  • Create easy handoffs and review processes to avoid a million meetings
  • Develop owner dashboards for team oversight without getting into the weeds

Oh, and we’ll help you understand how to set KPIs to measure the impact of all of this on your agency’s growth and performance. Awesome, right? Then you’ll have the ability to lead and delegate.

L. Lead and delegate

Bet you stumbled on this page because you’re sick of putting out five-alarm project catastrophe fires at 3 AM, amirite?

Life’s too short for all that. We will get your project management systems in place running smoothly and effortlessly.

But that’s not all. You’ve got a life to live outside the daily business ops.

In this step, we show you how to lead. We’ll figure out the best ways for you to implement your new project management processes across your team so they know what to do, what’s expected, and how to repeat at scale.

The key to this? Training your project manager or traffic controller so they have the right skills and tools to consistently deliver. We’ll show you how so you can finally get out of the way and relax.

E. Exit and oversee

This is the fun part. It’s the part where you get out of the way. And it’s the part you’ve been waiting for all along.

You get to fully enjoy your business and watch it’s growth from a distance because guess what? Your project management is now running like clockwork without you needing to adjust the gears all the time.

S.C.A.L.E your agency project management today.

Your agency can’t grow and scale without an airtight project management process in place. At ScaleTime, we’ll take what you’re doing, amplify the good stuff, and fix and optimize the not-so-good for maximum growth and revenue.

Well gee, ScaleTime. I sure wish I could get started today on fixing my project management processes. . . 

Oh looky here. Some project management resources for ya! And they’re free. Just click and get started.

The Agency Project Management Checklist

Gimme!

Video: The Basics of Project Management

Teach me, Sensei

Ready to fully streamline your project management processes? Experience greater agency growth and get some work-life balance into your life. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Let’s Do This!

Get a Grip on Resources and Budgets with Time Tracking

Time tracking helps agencies improve their project management, budget, and resource allocation. But no one likes having a beady-eyed manager looking over their shoulder — even if it’s a digital one.  

Most of us have had to deal with a nitpicky micromanager at some point creating some management trauma. I know you don’t want to turn into that person and inflict that on your own team’s morale. But you need a way to keep track of your resources and budgets. 

Enter time tracking. 

UGH, I know. 

But I promise – this is a good thing. 

It’s a great tool, but only when implemented the right way, which we’ll get into here in a second. 

First though, a few important points. 

If you implement time tracking protocols and software with a hammy fist, your employees might feel the same way you did once — spied on, controlled, and micromanaged. 

But what if I told you that specific brand of paranoia isn’t justified?

That is if you can effectively communicate with your team on the importance of time tracking. And why it’s a good thing — for them. 

Let’s dive into how your business and your team benefit from time tracking. We’ll also show you the top time tracking tools to use to get a better grip on your resources and budgets.

Time Tracking, Project Management, and the Pareto Principle

You’ve probably heard of it — the Pareto Principle, one of my favorite principles, AKA the 80/20 rule. 

Applied to agencies, the Pareto Principle states that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients. Or a specific type of work. 

Do you know who those clients and projects are?

If you do, you can refocus your agency goals to maximize the most profitable clients or projects and improve your budget management. 

“But Juliana, what’s time tracking got to do with all that?”

Every hour you track is another hour that can be billed. When running fixed-priced contracts, you can identify the 20% that brings the most profits to the yard. 

You can weed out the types of projects and clients stretching your resources without doing much for your profit margins. 

Time tracking is a tool that can help scale your agency since you won’t be wasting time frying the small fish. 

Client management got you down? Your client onboarding probably needs some adjustments. It’s not too hard to do with our free client onboarding toolkit

CTA Button: Get the Free Toolkit

How does time tracking help your team members?

Scope creep can bury itself into your budgets, timelines, and also stress your employees. But in a lot of cases, workloads increase in such small increments, you might not notice. 

That is until you’re up at 3 AM stressing out about a project and not knowing how the heck it got so out of control. 

Implementing time tracking can help you identify when a workload is starting to get too big for its britches. 

But when employees hear “time tracking,” they often feel like Big Brother’s about to start spying on them. 

Tips for getting employee buy-in 

PMs, clearly communicate the point of time tracking to your team: 

  • We’re protecting our bandwidth so you don’t burnout 
  • We’re using time tracking to see what’s getting accomplished and when
  • Time tracking will reduce micromanaging because it increases transparency

On that last point, time tracking gives PMs the ability to supervise more efficiently. 

They won’t have the chance to nitpick or directly observe every single detail of the employee’s work process. With time tracking, project managers get a clearer picture of someone’s performance at a cursory glance.

Time tracking can also increase accountability across teams. 

If you’ve noticed a pattern of deliverables repeatedly missing deadlines, or certain team members taking on a huge workload, you might have an accountability issue somewhere. 

With time tracking, you can see where someone or a certain department might be slacking. Let your team know that time tracking can help with this issue and lighten their loads. 

When implementing time tracking, be clear about how you’ll do it, the data you’ll see, and how you’ll use it. 

Being upfront will go a long way toward building trust and getting buy-in from your team. So, manage expectations well in advance of implementation. 

Top Time Tracking Tools for Agencies

Make your life easier. When choosing a time tracking tool, get one with the following features:

  • Budget tracking
  • Freelancer tracking
  • Invoicing 
  • Project management integration

What about the price? If you capture just two hours a month, most time tracking software will pay for itself. We like these two:

Harvest

Harvest is $10 per month for each user and is one of the most popular time tracking tools on the market. It’s got all the important stuff you need:

  • Budget tracking
  • Built-in invoicing features
  • Ability to assign roles so that freelancers and part-timers can time track
  • Offers integrations with Asana, GitHub, and Jira

Toggl

Toggl paid plans are a little more expensive than Harvest — ranging from $10 to $59 a user per month. But it’s got a lower barrier to entry and is easier to set up. 

No need to set up tags, tasks, or projects. Just hit a timer, and you’re off to the races. 

  • Budget tracking
  • Invoicing abilities 
  • Freelancers can track their time
  • Integrations work through Chrome Extension
  • Great for small teams as it offers a free plan for up to five users

Your Next Steps for Time Tracking

Communicating with your team is the most important step in the process. Remember that.  

  • Figure out how you’re going to time track 
  • Be transparent about how you’ll use the data
  • Openly discuss your plans and goals
  • Let your team know how time tracking is going to benefit them 

Anytime you add something new to your team member’s workflow, building trust is key to getting buy-in. 

Have you wanted to use time tracking software to help scale your agency? What’s causing you to hold back? Let us know in the comments.

KPIs for Growth: Measuring Project Management

“I love flying blind! Oh look, we’re about to fly headfirst into a mountain.” And it’s a mountain of misplaced expectations, lost brains, and absolute disorder. 

We all like and need certainty in our lives. And when it comes to scaling an agency, knowing where we’re winning and where we need a little bit of help is vital to agency growth. 

Hardly anything happens in a vacuum and effective project management is another one of those things. You need to make sure you’ve got the right tools and processes in place for scaling and growing. 

Because bottom line? You can’t scale chaos. 

So, how do you define KPIs for project management? It’s ScaleTime to the rescue to right your flight and steer you clear of the Mountain of Chaos. 

Check out our top growth KPIs for measuring project management tools to see just how well (or not) your current project management processes are working. 

Hold up — what makes a good KPI anyway? 

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator

Every internut (typo and it stays) guru and their uncle will throw a million KPIs you must measure or else!!! at you. But I want you to focus on KPIs that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Anything less, and you’re going to get overwhelmed. So let’s focus on the following to keep us on track. 

Growth KPI #1: Project Run Rate 

Gotta keep an eye on that budget. Success isn’t just about right deliverables, although that’s vital too. You also need to keep an eye on expense efficiency. 

Unforeseen issues can and often do occur during the course of a project. Project Run Rate can help you see how, why, and where budget shifts need to happen. 

Projects that keep running over budget are going to raise an eyebrow when it comes to your agency’s integrity. So, track the Cost Performance Index, or CPI KPI (catchy, right?) to measure how well you’re doing. 

Project Run Rate = Earned Value/Actual Costs

Earned Value is how much work’s gotten done at a specified cost. Actual Costs are pretty straightforward — they’re the money that’s already been spent on the project. 

If CPI is high (over 1), then you’ll finish the project under budget. Too low (below 1), and you’re about to go over. This KPI is vital to understanding your project’s health – whether it’s a one time project or retained services.

So, you’re 2 months into a 6 month project budgeted at 5k, month, you look at your data and you’ve spent 14k through two months. Houston, we have a problem. Time to look at managing your team’s time to get back on track.

Growth KPI #2: On Time Deliverables

Delivering on time is just as critical as staying on budget. Schedule Performance Index (SPI) helps you measure how well your team is sticking to the schedule.

SPI = Earned Value/Planned Value

Planned Value is the planned percentage of work you’re aiming to complete within budget. 

Say you’ve got a 10K budget and 40% of the project left to do. Planned Value is 4K. 

Use SPI to compare your actual costs and time and tweak the budget if you must. 

We often underestimate our timelines and how long a particular task is going to take. You usually can’t identify a creeping scope down to the last detail. 

This KPI will help you see where you have some leeway with timelines without jeopardizing the budget. 

You have a client who wants copy for their next email campaign. But oh yeah, could you just add in a few A/B split tests while you’re at it, too? For copy and subject lines? You’ve got the time for that, don’t you?

Dutifully measure this KPI, and you’ll know if it’s, “OMG, hair on fire! Must get done ASAP!” Or if you can breathe a sigh of relief. SPI helps you figure out your project management priorities and if you have some breathing room in the schedule. 

Growth KPI #3: Resource Capacity

Resources are finite. 

Does your team have the time needed to hit milestones by their due date? What about changes in scope? Does your team have the bandwidth to accommodate?

You must have the right amount of resources (people and their time) to complete your projects on schedule and within budget. That way, you’ll have a happy customer, and happy employees, at the end. 

When you’re short of crucial resources, projects are painful. 

You’ve might have been here before. You didn’t adequately onboard your client (no worries we’ve all been there, done that). Now they’re asking for “little” extras that are really adding up, resulting in an out-of-control, ballooning project and stressed employees. 

You have to measure your resource capacity to prevent these kinds of problems. 

So project managers, measure your resource capacity KPIs for maximum performance and resource efficiency. 

When you set this KPI, make the target realistic. No one goes full-throttle, 100% productive throughout the whole day. We all need a coffee break (or five) at times.  

Measuring this KPI has several different benefits:

  • You can allocate resources properly
  • Determine any hiring needs
  • Set an accurate schedule for deliverables
  • Determine an accurate project completion timeline

Resource Capacity = # of Project Team Members X % of Time Team Members are Available to Work

Use Growth KPIs and Go from Good to Gold

With the measurables of project management, you’ll:

  • More quickly and easily scale your agency
  • Increase your business integrity
  • Become more efficient, lean, and mean

Use these top three project management KPIs to keep your project’s on track, within budget, and your clients happy. 
Are you having trouble measuring KPIs and optimizing for growth? Reach out to us today.

5 Marketing Agency Tools to Simply Collaboaration & Communication

So many tools. So little time. 

Figuring out whether the latest and allegedly greatest newfangled communication tool is going to help your agency scale is not an easy task.

There’s the tried-and-true email, Slack, Asana, Monday, Clickup, and so many more. They’re all good, but here’s the problem:

If your organization doesn’t clearly define the roles these communication tools play, information gets:

  • Disorganized
  • Lost
  • Jumbled

Communication and efficiency suffer. Bottom line, you can’t control chaos, and chaos is what happens when your tools don’t have clearly defined communication roles. 

Let’s fix that for you. Use these top agency communication tools in the right roles for agency growth. 

Best Agency Tools for Managing Projects and Timelines

Are you running headfirst into a brick wall of:

  • Confused staff who don’t know what tasks to execute or prioritize?
  • PMs unaware of project status?
  • No clear expectations or higher-ups identified?
  • Impatient clients tired of waiting for your team to get their sh$t together?

Then your issue is you don’t have an organized system to monitor your project status and manage timelines. Managing project timelines is critical to scaling an agency. 

The best collaboration tools for project management are tools like:

  • Clickup
  • Asana
  • Trello
  • Monday

These are powerful project management tools with easy-to-use, modern interfaces for managing your project timelines. You can:

  • Plan project timelines
  • Assign specific tasks
  • Work on team management 
  • Monitor the status of each project
  • Quickly see where each project is on its dedicated timeline

But, these tools are NOT for communicating around things that are not directly project related, which lead us to . . .

Best Tool for Non-Task Related Communication

It’s Slack. Hands down. Think of Slack like a digital version of the traditional water cooler. Using Slack can help improve teamwork, productivity, and culture. 

Employees can shoot off a quick message or meme to brighten the day. Questions can be answered quickly and communication efficiently improved. 

Setting up Slack channels related to different client accounts and tasks can help keep communications streamlined. You can also invite clients to Slack channels so clients and account managers are all on the same page. 

Best Long-form Communication Tool

Email is one of the best communication tools for your vendors, partners, and clients. Unless, you can convince them or they have the sophistication to get on your project manager or Slack.  

If you want your communication to be efficient, clear, and concise, head on over to email to make sure nothing gets lost in translation. 

Email enables you to communicate a lot of complex information in an archivable form. And it makes it easy for you to archive important communication chains for later reference. CCing streamlines communication among multiple partners at different companies too. 

WARNING – you don’t want a hairy inbox! To get clients out of your inbox use automations to move actionable messages and requests over to your project manager to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. 

Best Collaboration Tools for Scaling an Agency

Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive are excellent tools for collaboration and storing critical project documents. Team members can access the cloud from any device, anytime, and anywhere. 

Ever lost your brain on a project? Then you need to start using Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive.

Google Drive is empowered with Google’s search capabilities so docs are easily found and accessed. Store your instruction forms, SOPs, and other vital documents in the easily accessible cloud. 

Communication Tools Help Everyone Work Smarter and Faster

One final tip — invite your clients to use these tools. This can help you all work smarter and faster and hit those deliverable timelines. 

Just make sure you identify any cracks in your client processes and fix them first. Let’s just say, boundaries are beautiful and vital to a project’s success. 

Put your communication aces in their places

Today’s agencies need powerful collaboration and communication tools to hit goals and consistently deliver results. 

Increase your efficiency and communication effectiveness, and you’ll have an easier time growing your business. 

Whether you want to ixnay the crossing of communication wires or improve workplace culture, these top business communication tools can help.  

What agency communication tools have you used? What results did you achieve? Let us know in the comments!

How to Organize Client Folders & Files: 6 Simple Tips to Try

Frustrated team, inefficient processes, overwhelmed brain . . . you know how it feels when your business tends to fade fast.

Help! I’m going crazy with all the digital paperwork!

This is an issue I often see when my clients and prospects are overwhelmed with the “piles” of digital documents around them.

What could be the culprit? 

Poorly organized, or even worse, unorganized client folders.

So, how to focus on the business and tend to the customers and clients when you have to hunt down hundreds of documents to get things done?

With folder structure.

Did you know that the typical American employee/employer spends two hours a week just trying to find papers?

Woah, that’s about a hundred hours a year!

Just take a deep breath and imagine you’re losing more than a hundred hours of productivity every year.

That’s profitability running straight out the door.

Losing money because your paperwork is not organized? It sucks.

But you can put a halt to all that disorder-craziness with a proper folder structure in place.

A Common Lost Brain Example

You’re in the middle of the day, and you’re trying to find a piece of paper, an article, or a client asset. So, you click at one folder, then another, and then another. But you can’t find what you need. 

You ring your co-worker and ask them if they know where the item is located? They say they’ll check and revert.

You wait and wait and wait.

Only to hear that they couldn’t find it either.

This is a classic scenario of LOST BRAIN.

You end up wasting your time — asking everyone around you to figure out what you need because you don’t know where it is.

But the good news is, you can STOP that.

And, INSTEAD, you can just go into your organized folder structure and get what you want. Quickly!

Because you know precisely where it lives and where it should be at all times.

This thing/item/document that you might be looking for is the BRAIN of your business.

It could be:

  • Clients’ assets
  • Proposals
  • Scopes
  • Change orders
  • Content
  • Deliverables
  • Milestones
  • Meeting notes
  • Meeting agendas
  • Frameworks, and
  • Anything that you’re producing for the client

So, where does it live?

It could live in a file, a folder, in your drawer, or a cabinet that has piles of paperwork already.

Take your BRAIN out of the DIGITAL MESS.

And make sure everything in your business has its organization.

Why?

Because you don’t want to end up hunting people down for everything you need.

Imagine this: If an employee leaves and you hire someone else, how do you expect the new employee to ramp up? Can they seamlessly pick up from where the previous employee left off?

Not unless there is a folder structure. It’s the only thing that can help them easily replace the brain of the previous employee.

And what would be the results in that case? 

Quick delivery, fewer hassles.

Understanding where your brain lives will not only help you train people faster, it will help you make more money by delivering to clients more quickly.

Overall, your profitability will increase, and you’ll better navigate and grow your business.

DIGITIZE and ORGANIZE Your Brain

Once you know where your brain lives, it’s time to digitize and organize.

This is where a folder structure or a folder taxonomy comes and changes everything — for the better, of course.

Excellent delegation isn’t a myth.

You can make that happen. But how?

By having all your papers, documents, and files in specified places and organizing them into folder structures. So that the next time someone needs a document, they don’t have to make a hundred clicks to get to it.

A well-organized folder structure will save time and $$$ for your business. And it will help you manage your business better. 

Give Your Business a Fulfilling Run. Ready, Set, Go!

Not knowing where your brain lives is a huge drain on your business productivity, sales, and profitability.

Understand where your brain lives, organize client folders, and save time and money.

While you are trying to find your brain, check this case study to learn how one of my clients doubled her sales, tripled her team in size, and decreased her expenses in less than one year. Oh, and guess what? You can do it too. Just ask ScaleTime how.

What is Folder Structure?

You’re working on an important deadline, when ding!, there comes a message from your colleague:

Hey, do you have that meeting note from last month’s meeting with that fussbudget client? He is asking for something that seems out of scope, and the boss wants us to dig in and check if his request is legit.”

Uh oh. That’s a message you wouldn’t want to see.

But you did. 

And, darn, there’s no escape.

Now, you’ll have to scroll through hundreds of folders and documents to find a simple record that you should’ve kept handy.

In fact, until now, it was handy. Or was it?

Well, this is why you need a folder structure.

Think of it as that binder you store all your physical documents in. It kills disorderliness and keeps everything organized on your systems.

It’s your solution to document clutter.

How To Build A Client Folder Taxonomy?

  1. Create a template — Have a standard folder structure template in place. When you know how to create a folder structure quickly, you’ll spend less time making it when you scale.
  2. Define the hierarchy — Don’t dump everything in folders. Focus on a logical progression and categorize the folders either by project, client, or department.
  3. Label them right — Hey, don’t rush when saving files in folders. Name everything descriptively to save time and frustration as you search later on.
  4. Create shortcuts –—While an efficient folder structure is your savior in most scenarios, you need shortcuts for the most commonly used folders and subfolders. But, don’t flood your system with shortcuts either. Go easy on them.
  5. Version and Iteration control — Create processes for storing and keeping track of versions and iterations of deliverables.

Why is Folder Structure Important?

Well, a good folder structure is crucial in various scenarios:

  • When you want to find an item without wasting your time
  • When you want to make your systems easier to manage and sustainable
  • When you want to reduce the digital mess
  • When you want to avoid the risk of people using the wrong document
  • When you want to have a structured approach to manage all the deliverables and documents and enable sensible search

So, there you have it, the ultimate guide on saving time with folder structures.

Master the Skill of Folder Structure

When it comes to managing client folders, you need a folder structure that makes document search easier and folder organization better.

Level up your folder structure skills by:

  • Creating a folder structure
  • Using templates
  • Maintaining a folder hierarchy
  • Labeling files, folders, and everything in between
  • Creating shortcuts
  • Implementing version/iteration control

Before you get busy with creating that perfect folder structure, download this free client onboarding guide and toolkit to optimize your client onboarding process.

If you have any tips to make the most of the folder structure, leave a comment below. And if you are facing any struggles or challenges with your folder structure, let us know.

Creating Sexy Systems with Smart Technology and Even Smarter Documentation

Stop employee morale degrade

Stop productivity dwindle

Stop profitability downswing

Most of the clients I’ve worked with faced some common “problems” before I helped them step up their processes.

Some of these issues I regularly hear about are:

“We don’t have the bandwidth to take another project.”

“We don’t know how to collaborate better.”

“Our team is too scattered. We don’t have a centralized database for information sharing.”

“An important client asset is missing; I don’t know where to find it.”

“Delegation is a nuisance. How to do it quickly without micromanaging?”

So, how to improve, Juliana, how?

I say with the right TECHNOLOGY and DOCUMENTATION.

If you’re lost in processes (like many businesses), take your employees out of the confines of their silos.

Enable them to collaborate and ramp up better — with the power of technology and documentation.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: make your team collaboration-and-delegation-ready because the lack of collaboration and delegation leads to inefficiencies.

And you can scale your inefficiencies faster than anything else.

Here’s how you can leverage technology and documentation for creating BEAUTIFUL PROCESSES and SEXY SYSTEMS.

Technology

I understand that chaos is the order of the universe. 

Choosing the right tools and pieces of technology will help you:

  • Work across verticals
  • Work across platforms
  • Work across teams – especially the collaborative and telecommuting ones

I mean, how to find all the information you need to get your business going?

For example, if Employee A is in Sydney, Employee B is in Singapore, and you’re sitting in New York, how the heck are you going to collaborate?

You would need all the information in one place — without banging your head against the wall.

Enter technology, and you’re on your way to cutting out the crap and improving performance.

Technology automates tasks and creates efficiencies. So, you and your group can concentrate on the more critical parts of the business — the BIGGER stuff.

Documentation

There’s no ONE document that you need to keep handy all the time.

You have to keep ALL your business documents easily accessible by all who are involved in your business processes.

From the video screencasts to the screenshots, the meeting minutes, the agendas, the contingency plans — every single piece of paper — hard copy or soft copy — should be well-documented to get into the nitty-gritty of the workflow.

Documentation helps you delegate things quickly and help people ramp up quickly.

Let’s say, John, your Account Manager, leaves the organization. You hired a new manager, but they’re clueless about which client needs what.

So, what will save your bacon? Documentation, baby.

When all your information is documented, your employees will be able to use it without any fuss — whenever, wherever.

Documentation = Quicker Delegation = Conversions $$$

It will also help you create quality along the way and have people do things the way you want them to do reliably.

So, as you skate around your expertise, take technology and documentation along with you. They’ll check off your goals sooner than what you’d do otherwise.

And they’ll keep your sanity intact.

Don’t Let Your Tasks Fall Through The Cracks

  • Adopt the right technology for better collaboration
  • Adopt documentation to track all of your projects and delegate quickly

 Here’s to stepping up to the next level.

If you have questions on what tech and documentation processes we use here at ScaleTime, leave a comment, and I’ll share it soon.

5 Pillars for Creating Stunning Processes for Your Business

Struggling to create a process? You’re not alone.

Companies lose 20-30% of their annual revenue due to inefficient processes.

And that’s freaking HUGE!

Many of my clients and prospects ask me, “Juliana, how can I create processes for my business?” Or I sometimes get, “How can I improve the processes I already have?” 

I advise: Rip those layers of red tape must-dos and GET SH$T DONE.

Processing a process is way more than having repeatable systems in place and that super-strong desire to document.

It’s the meta process of your business. It’s how you take the core part of your business and make it effective and efficient.

At ScaleTime, we understand you need super-awesome systems. And you need super-super-awesome processes to help your systems level up.

To unlock opportunities for efficient, effective and quality scaling, we use the following five pillars.

So, brace yourselves for the grand reveal of our killer five-stage approach that works for us every time and will work for you too.

1. Workflows

First, you need workflows. These are the repeatable steps that you need to keep track of your projects. They’re fantastic at giving you a bird’s eye view of the core part of your business.

So you can track a document easily. But workflows? That’s a different animal altogether. 

Creating a workflow process for your business is a checklist that lives in your project management systems and CRMs, helping you track the work being done. This lets you breathe more easily because you can see the workload, capacity, and deadlines. 

Think of the workflow as aides you need to define the people and technologies involved in the processes. And creating them is nothing less than an art – because your processes’ beautiful execution begins with the rightly crafted workflows.

2. Tech Stack

When creating business processes, you need to be skilled at leveraging technology. Because at the end of the day, it’s about collaboration. No matter where your team is, you need that collaboration to be visible and trackable. 

The main things in your tech stack should be: 

  • Project manager
  • CRM
  • Accounting software
  • Scheduler
  • Password protector

Your tech stack should include technology that creates efficiencies, streamlines communication and automates specific tasks so that your business can focus on high-level stuff.

3. Documents

How in the world can you delegate things quickly when there’s so much to do?

Through documents.

These are the support assets you need so that you are not reinventing the wheel.

This step of the process includes spreadsheets, decks, screencasts, screenshots, client documents, agendas, and all the information that helps you get into the nitty-gritty of the workflows.

It’s your key to faster delegation and to enable people to ramp up quickly.

4. Training

Remember that your business process is agile. You won’t have the same processes when you’re a $1 million business vs. a $5 million company.

As your business scales, it changes everything — from sales to production, from project management to the people involved. You need dynamic instructions to teach people how to perform tasks and reach levels of excellence.

This is where training helps.

It ensures you don’t get stuck in a rut and enables you to innovate and ramp up confidently.

5. Metrics

Metrics are the numbers that measure the efficacy of the processes.

Right Measurement = High Profit.

Understand and measure the key performance metrics for your business’s core part:

  • Metrics
  • Outcomes
  • Time a process is taking
  • People’s performance

This will help you drive results and profits.

So, there you have it: the roadmap to successful processes.

But, hey, when you have stunning processes in place, remember to keep optimizing and updating them.

Treat them the same way you treat your marketing campaigns or product launches. Because sustaining successful processes is as important as creating them.

Repeat After Me: Your Meta Process Is A FIVE-STAGE Approach Involving:

  • Workflows
  • Tech Stack
  • Documents
  • Training
  • Metrics

Go ahead, rock it.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.

I’d love to know how you optimize your processes and which processes cause you the most headaches.

And if you’ve crushed it in a process, I’d love to know that as well.

How to Achieve Project Management Freedom

What do people say about you when you’re too much into your projects?

Do they think it’s a nightmare working with you on projects?

Well, $hit.

As a founder or a project manager, you may also want to achieve enough freedom for innovation, creativity, and personal judgment by stepping aside from the projects.

But striking the right balance between involvement and flexibility so that your team enjoys working with you (and you get a breather) isn’t easy.

If you can’t wait to get rid of the problems, the setups, the processes, the never-ending communication, I hear you.

Trust me. I understand being tired of the constant need to be involved in the business and the desire to step away from it.

That waiting for the day when you’re no longer putting out fires.

I get it.

But, Juliana, how to achieve that project management freedom?

With the right:

Tools

Equip your business with project management tools that are worth your time and investment.

From project management systems to databases, time tracking software, and communication tools — you need it all to allow users to control their tasks, conversations, and projects better.

Documents

I’ve said this before, and I’m repeating it now: documents and data are the real treasure of your business.

You must centralize all the documents so that everyone can use them without creating further dependencies.

Get a hold of all your decks, videos, client folders/doc management, internal files, sketches, client/vendor contracts, misc servers, etc.

You’ll be one step closer to project management freedom.

Workflows

As for the workflows, gather everything you’ve got to figure out what needs to be created, what can go into standardization, and what into optimization.

To up your game, go by these rules:

  • Too many workflows? Play cleanup. Did you audit your workflow templates and found that you’ve got too many? See if a thing sparks joy. If not, get rid of it so that it doesn’t clog up your system.
  • Not any? Let’s go. And if you don’t have any, or if you’re missing a lot, let’s go and build them.

But know this: Building templates is a team sport — not something you can do all by yourself. Get your team involved.

Trainings

One of the reasons why it is difficult for a lot of people to delegate the project management system and train people is because a lot of it has to do with making decisions.

So, how to train alongside decisions so that you can delegate stuff well?

For external, such as client requests, have a decision tree around them to make decisions quickly.

For internal, create a change board for initiatives. Evaluate the idea, the resources that are necessary for it, the objectives, and the outcomes. Then accept or reject it.

For meetings, optimize them.

Because if you are in meetings all the time and they aren’t even useful, you’re reducing capacity. Don’t do that, my friend. Don’t do that.

 

Performance

Without metrics and people, you just got a lot of pretty stuff.

So, to ensure you achieve project management freedom, reward people based on their performances.

And create some hashtags as you do it.

Something like #beastmode, #awesome, etc.

That way, when you can look for a particular hashtag, and see who has achieved how many, you can be like, “Wow, Jenny has got 15 beast modes in the last month. Let’s incentivize her.”

You can do this to quantify performance, both on the positive and the negative side.

Ninja Your Project Management 

When it comes to project management, make sure that it all works like a lean, mean competitive machine, like a beautiful organism.

Achieve freedom by:

  1. Using the right tools
  2. Centralizing documents
  3. Auditing workflows
  4. Investing in training and making decisions alongside
  5. Measuring performance

Project Management Compass: How to Navigate the Workflow Waters

2.5%

That’s the percentage of companies successfully completing 100% of their projects.

Bummer?

So, what really stops companies from hitting the sweet spot when it comes to project management?

Maybe most of them just suck at the navigation of creating the project management process, a.k.a the project management compass.

So how to manage your workflow better and navigate the workflow waters?

By understanding the workflow cycle.

Brace yourself for some project management success.

Welcome… strategy!

There are few greater joys in the business world than a project well strategized.

Whether you’re a project manager, the founder, the coordinator, or a gladiator who has been brought in to do this — strategizing is the cornerstone of success.

Strategize well to know the who, what, where, when, and how of the projects, the clients, the engagements, the retainers, and everything you can possibly think of.

More power to the plan

Despite its ridiculously ubiquitous influence, planning isn’t given as much thought as it deserves.

Begin your workflow well with checklists, assign people to the tasks, and get the milestones ready.

Pay attention to who’s going to do what

There shouldn’t be any surprises when it comes to accountability.

Deploy the work right. 

And let people know who’s accountable for what.

Empower for high performance

Eh . . . I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news. 

But your failure to empower people to take up tasks means you’re failing at the project management process.

You must aim to empower people to take on their particular tasks and projects and string along with them.

Mark your calendar

Set aside time in the calendar to review the workflow as it’s happening and QA the deliverables.

So yeah, I know you personally may not be queuing the deliverables. But make sure that they are getting queued.

When processes are reviewed well, whether internally by the team or externally by the client, you ensure they don’t clog up production.

Keep up with the workflow

Track your workflow against your timetables, milestones, invoices, and anything that holds significance to your business.

And as you do it, you might as well have to babysit the project. 

That’s particularly true if there are dependencies in a project.

You have to make sure that people are doing what they said they’ll be doing.

Set the priorities straight

Once you feel that your workflow process is deviating the line, don’t forget to reprioritize things.

Whether it’s a client-led delay that’s making it impossible to achieve a deadline and pushing everything else off, or an internal anomaly — always make sure that your priorities are still in order.

Reweighting the projects, including scaling the new ones, is frigging crucial to your PM success.

Hey, what’s the scope again?

It would be great if a fairy workflow mother flew from the sky and set out a superb project scope for you.

But when it comes to rescoping your workflow, you’re on your own.

Remember that projects are kinda perpetually changing entities.

And you know what? 

Whatever it is that you aim to create and what you finally deliver could be drastically different.

Which is why you need to rescope projects as you work to achieve the results. S

o, you’re not left wondering —  what the heck happened?!

What TO DO Next

Frankly, I wouldn’t blame you for getting confused when it comes to navigating the crazy rollercoaster that is the project management process.

Between the umpteen tasks, the goal to create more capacity, and more profitability, things could go a bit haywire. 

So, take the follow action points and ace your project management process like a pro:

  • Strategize
  • Plan
  • Deploy
  • Empower
  • Review (Q/A)
  • Track (Babysit)
  • (Re)prioritize
  • (Re)scope

While you’re at it, check this case study of how one of my clients built a repeatable, scalable process. You can too!