By Jean-noël Lafargue via Wikimedia Commons

By Jean-noël Lafargue via Wikimedia Commons

One of my favorite podcasts recently covered the future of work. Their lens for this big idea was pretty mundane: a UPS driver in rural Pennsylvania with 30 years on the job. As a quick summary, data people have analyzed and optimized package delivery so that this driver delivers roughly 35% more packages in a given day.

Some of the changes were very small: keyless entry, automatic doors, even instructing right-handed drivers to store pens in their left shirt pocket. But these efficiencies add up. 1 minute of time savings per driver per day yields $14,500,000 in cost savings per year.

Impressive, right? But what does this have to do with agencies?

Well, as 15-year agency veteran, I can tell you that agency efficiency puts UPS to shame.  And if you’ve spent even 5 minutes in an agency, you know I’m lying.

Seriously, even well-run agencies are a mess. Our business is people and people are messy. And we rationalize status quo by claiming that creativity thrives on chaos.

In the words of Peggy Olsen from Mad Men: 

The reality is that any business that sells hours has a short-term incentive for inefficiency.  If the client will pay for it, why not bill them for 8 hours to search stock photography? Why not send 5 designers to a half-day review session?

If the client will pay for it…

And when the client won’t, the long-run catches up with your overbilling, inefficient ways. The client puts the business up for review, a more efficient agency delivers equal quality for less money, and your agency is suddenly laying off people whose skills searching stock photography and sitting quietly through review sessions suddenly don’t seem so marketable.

So what do smart agencies do about this?  They invest in operationalizing their processes—just like UPS.  And a well-designed DAM is essential to that continual improvement.

But unlike driving a UPS truck, agency work is less repetitive and involves less opening and closing of doors.  So what processes should a DAM help optimize?

To quote David H. Maister, who literally wrote the book on managing the professional services firm, every agency will have some version of the following mission statement: 

To deliver outstanding client service; to provide fulfilling careers and professional satisfaction for our people; and to achieve financial success…

So over the next several days, I will be posting 3 articles on this topic devoted to Service, Satisfaction, and Success.

If you are the impatient type and can’t wait for me to finish writing, I have the outline and would be glad to discuss over a conversation.

If you want to read the next 3 articles but don’t trust yourself to check back, why don’t you sign up for our newsletter below?