We’re thrilled to be welcoming Andy Wright from Streamtime to guest write on this week’s blog for us! In this post, Andy focuses on the health of our agencies. We’re used to measuring our agency’s success by metrics like hours, utilisation and profit margin, but really, we should be focusing on team and individual motivation, client quality and how we can reduce stress-related sick days. Have a read about Andy’s perspective on what makes a health agency.
I know this is an obvious one – if not, we really are in trouble.
I’m writing this post because I want more people to think about what the health of their agency really means.
We’ve just written our vision for Streamtime for the next few years – in fact we got the Delorean out and went to 2030! My biggest source of sorrow for our own business is when we don’t effectively get across how much we care about the future of the creative industry. When we get judged solely on being a software company. When we get lined up in the feature comparison table.
Features are easy (comparatively). Prioritising what we create and why we create it comes from a much deeper place.
If you’re only hearing about Streamtime for the first time in this piece or if your only experience has been from seeing us in a comparison table, then I hope you’ll bear with me as I explain a bit more about us. You might stop reading now, thinking this is an ad. I’ll be honest, we’ve paid to be here. But we’re only here because we genuinely want to play our part in creating a healthier creative industry.
So, if you’ll give me 5 minutes, I can explain further.
Software that gives a shit.
Last year we wrote an ad aimed at explaining how much more we want to be, than just a software company. Here it is:
We’re for the creative industry, creative founders, creative leaders, creative directors, wannabes and supporters.
We’re for a healthier industry: giving a shit about keeping teams healthy while making a healthy profit.
We’re for saving time, so that you get to work on your business and not just in it. We make software that works for you, and not the other way round.
We’re for burying the dreaded timesheet deep, deep, deep in the ground once and for all, at the same time as giving you more accurate data on how and where you’re spending time.
We’re for sharing the highs and the lows. We get what it means to be recognised and rewarded for success (our latest 2020 Webby, a D&AD Pencil), and giving you a virtual high five whenever we can.
We’re for being a Zoom away when you need help, a chat, some advice, or just another perspective. After 18 years in the business, and having run, worked in and even started an agency we’re here to share it all whenever it helps.
We’re for giving 2020 the chance to redeem itself after all those talks and presentations that in no way predicted this clusterfuck.
We’re for 100% agreeing that, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
We’re for healthier creative businesses.
And let’s face it, we’re nothing without you.
It felt right to share this with the creative world (well, Creative Review). Of course, we’re in a competitive marketplace. It’s a marketplace defined by terms like utilisation, productivity, profitability, capacity. If you’re in the business of selling software to businesses it makes sense that you talk about these things.
But if you’re in the business of creating a healthier industry, those terms only tell half the story. In fact, in some cases they’re detrimental to the story. We need metrics that measure the health of our people, not just our bank accounts and client relationships. When was the last time you reflected on the health of your team and whether they’re able to do their best work? Compare that to the time spent worrying about your clients and if they’re happy.
The future for creative agencies
The recent work we’ve been doing focuses heavily on making sure we’re moving in a direction that creates healthier agencies. We’re questioning what the metrics should be that are important to agencies of the future. In 2030 – and probably before – they should look something like this:
“Hours, utilisation, profit margin. KPI’s for neanderthals! What we measure now are;
- project clearance rates – how efficiently we get through tasks that need to get done.
- team and individual motivation scores – how people feel trusted, fulfilled and clear on their expectations
- client quality scores – the magic formula of profit, volume of work, and team happiness
And of course, any other metrics you want to create. If we’ve got the data, you can call it something and graph it. Boom!”
In fact, we’d like to go further in order to think about our customers as our community (I wanted to write family, but yeah ?).
Here’s another metric we’d like to track,
“Reduce stress-related sick days. Across the Streamtime community (you’re probably more used to what we used to call them – customers), we’ve just passed 90 days without a stress-related incident. Of course, we encourage teams to plan and take mental health days, but much better if they’re proactive rather than reactive. This is now one of our key performance metrics. It’s really encouraging to see that creative businesses are starting to get a better reputation for battling the burnout that used to occur more regularly in their teams.”
Beyond project management features
While our competitors are building features focusing on the money, they’re only focusing on half the picture. We need solutions that focus on our humans. Ironically, many agencies will talk about Human Centred Design approaches for their clients’ problems – but forget to apply the same approach to their own.
We’re humans, not robots. We’re creatives, not bean-counters. There are times when we need to do the admin and count the beans – for sure, but not to the detriment of our creativity.
And of course, my own side-project (supported by Streamtime), Never Not Creative is focused on creating a better world for creatives. In fact, it’s shortly to become a charity in it’s own right.
When we onboard new customers to Streamtime, all of the above and more is part of our thinking and our philosophy. We’re not just helping you learn the product. We’re helping you to learn the philosophies and processes that can help you to run a healthier business. We can’t do all of the work of course, that’s up to you. What we can do, is be that coach, driving you in the right direction.
If you ever want to chat about this and how to work on having a healthier creative business, you can slide into my calendar here. You don’t have to be a customer.
About Andy Wright, Streamtime
Andy co-founded and successfully ran ‘For the People’ for a number of years. One of their biggest clients with whom they created an award winning and much loved product was Streamtime. One thing led to another and Andy took the opportunity to head up the Streamtime business, focusing on driving disruptive innovation and creating a sustainable and collaborative workspace. Andy passion is all about helping agency owners run healthy, profitable businesses.