End-to-end Agency Management: To Use One Core Tool or Integrate with Many?

If you had to choose only one benefit that you value most in a business management tool, which one would it be? 

Would it be its number of different features, its user friendliness, its ability to easily integrate with other tools, customer support, or flexibility in pricing?

It’s hard to choose just one benefit, isn’t it? In fact, you’d probably like your agency management platform to have all of the above.

In this article, we tackle whether or not it’s possible to use only one tool to run your entire agency—or if end-to-end agency management calls for a number of different integrations to get the data you need to move your agency forward.

Option 1: Running Your Agency in One Core Tool

Whether you’re a project manager, head of operations, or the CEO of an agency, one of the most important things that you need is to be able to access real-time business data. That basically means all of the most important KPIs to keep your agency profitable: revenue, profit margins, utilization, forecasting, and similar. 

To do this, you’re constantly on the lookout for that one tool (or a mix of tools) that will make complex projects simpler, timelines and tasks more transparent, and your teammates more aligned. 

So the question is: can an agency find (and use) only one tool instead of multiple business management tools? Maybe a better question is: which features are crucial for an agency management tool to have? 

We all know that agency management encompasses multiple disciplines: sales, HR, operations, client servicing, production i.e. end to end project management (any type of creative work—from copywriting to development), financial forecasting, accounting, and more.

Option 2: Multiple Integrations 

There are business tools out there that are specialized in project management, time tracking, sales management… Yet, when all those features aren’t connected in the same system, how do you get consolidated data?

That’s where integrations come in. At a glance, a tool that’s specialized in one service and can integrate with hundreds of other apps is great. But the issue still remains: how do you get all your teammates, external partners, clients, accounting services on the same page? It may be easy to navigate from one to another—but eventually, you’ll start losing focus.

A typical scenario when running task management in one platform, time tracking in another, and trying to keep track of budget management and projects in Gantt chart-like tools or spreadsheets is wasting precious time and creative energy while switching between those tools. Another big challenge is getting consolidated data at your fingertips.

Using Productive as One Scalable Agency Tool 

Productive is an agency management tool that exists to help agencies reach their highest potential. Its aim is to be the only tool you need to run and scale a profitable agency by replacing spreadsheets and multiple tools. 

It does that by giving you wholesome view of your business through seven core features:

  • Sales
Source: Productive

Productive lets you set your agency’s sales funnel up in stages so you can push deals towards closure and see where your potential clients stand, at a glance. Once a new deal is closed, it’s simple to convert it into a new project and keep all the data in one tool.

  • Time Tracking
Source: Productive

Productive made time tracking easy-to-use by offering multiple different methods to track time: it can be tracked daily, weekly, via calendar integrations, automatically… Because tracked hours are connected to your agency’s project budgets and services, reporting and billing, you can get accurate data in real time in Productive.

  • Resource Planning
Source: Productive

Operations and resource planning are crucial in agencies. You can get a high-level overview of resource schedules and utilization and do financial forecasting, plus predict hiring plans with Productive’s Scheduling feature. Employees who requested any type of time off in Productive are also automatically indicated as unavailable in Scheduling, which makes it all the more easier to plan work out.

  • Budgeting
Source: Productive

Productive’s Budgeting feature lets you get a global view of your client’s project budgets and monitor the state of each budget. You can add custom fields, columns and filter data as it suits you and your team.

  • Project Management
Source: Productive

Agency work mostly revolves around delivering services through project timelines, which are broken down into smaller tasks that are assigned to different teammates with deadlines or time frames. In Productive, you can set your projects up in different views (e.g. Board view, Table view, or Timeline view) and collaborate with teammates, external partners (contractors) and you can even invite your clients onboard.   

  • Reporting
Source: Productive

With tracked time and expenses entered into Productive, your agency can get real-time data to make confident, data-driven decisions through over 50 agency-focused insights, or by building your own reports from scratch.

  • Billing
Source: Productive

In Productive, you can choose from budgeted amounts, recurring fees, tracked time or expenses to quickly create invoices and send them out to clients. After each project is complete, your accounting department can easily take care of billing because all your data is in one place.

To Use One Core Tool or Integrate with Other Tools? 

You can’t run absolutely all your agency work in one tool. First, this is impossible because agencies usually deliver services that are produced in specialized tools. Second, depending on the size and type of your agency and the country (or multiple markets) you operate from—certain additional tools will streamline and automate your agency’s work. 

Productive is integrated with a number of popular business and finance management tools, such as:

  • Popular Calendar Tools: Google Calendar and MS Outlook

The biggest benefit of synchronizing calendars with Productive is having those events as automatically tracked time in Productive.

  • Accounting tools: Xero, QuickBooks, Exact, Visma e-conomic

Productive’s sync with Xero, QuickBooks, Exact and Visma e-conomic lets you easily export and copy invoiced amounts from one tool to the other for further processing.

  • Jira

If your agency does a lot of development work and your teams are accustomed to using Jira, you can simply connect the two tools and streamline work.

  • Zapier and Custom Integrations

Productive’s API lets you fill in any gaps that your business needs. On the other hand, if you want to access specific apps that Productive doesn’t directly integrate with, you can set up certain actions in Productive to trigger reactions in other apps via Zapier in hundreds of other tools.

  • Slack

Last, but not least—Productive and Slack work hand in hand, in a way that task and project management are streamlined through Slack towards Productive, and vice versa. For example, you can get Productive notifications in Slack, or send quick replies to comments in Productive without leaving your agency’s Slack organization. 

Another cool option is syncing your Slack status with your Productive organization and calendar of choice, so your time off status or calendar event are all the same.

Source: Productive

One Core Agency Management Tool and a Few Key Integrations

The conclusion is pretty simple: yes, you can find one core agency management tool, but you’ll also need to set up a few integrations depending on the type of agency you run. Usually, those integrations will be geared towards market specific accounting services and widely spread communications and organizational tools such as Slack and the Google Suite.

Please also check our top branding agencies and best digital marketing agencies for startups articles for further reading.