In the creative industry, the pressure’s always on to deliver cool projects to wow customers. It’s often tough to keep a cool head and deliver successful projects from A to Z, every project at a time. That’s why you need to have a few essentials in place to get from cool idea to ready-to-ship without any significant bumps along the way.

This article contains tips and useful links for working with Teamleader Focus in a creative agency. We made the assumption that projects are the heart of your organisation and that will be the basis of this article. 

Needless to say, all companies work differently and these are just guidelines to help you along. If you have other questions, browse through our support centre for specific info on modules, or contact our support team.

Project planning starts in the pitching phase

The creative sector is all about pitching. Going to great lengths to present your creative idea to a prospective customer and selling it to them makes it a tough, competitive market. To make sure you’ve got enough projects lined up, you need to outclass the competition with the best idea in town. Contrary to other industries, project planning already starts in the pitching phase. Every idea you’ve discussed with customers, like a marketing campaign, can easily be put into a quotation which you can send to your customer to sign. Afterwards, convert this quotation to a project in a few easy steps, and you’re good to go! 

In our example, our project is a marketing campaign for a rebranding:

Keep a helicopter view at all times

When working in a creative agency, you need to have a really strong overview of what needs to happen. While this might sound logical, it’s often an underestimated factor: the better you can plan, the more your project will succeed. Proper planning isn’t about squeezing all your to-do’s into a foolproof schedule, but leaving room for delays, errors, and space to breathe.

Project header

Fill in the fields as these will give you a clear overview of the most important information about the project. You can add extra fields to the header by clicking the three dots in the top right-hand corner > Customise header.

Manage preferences gives you the opportunity to define access/edit rights in a project. Discover more about this feature here.

Work breakdown

Creative agencies often have a clear process in mind when embarking on a new project with a customer. In Teamleader Focus, you can arrange your project by adding groups, and adding tasks and materials to those groups. 

Below the header, you can find the Work breakdown tab. This is where you will structure your project. Since we converted our quotation into a project, we already have groups and tasks in our project:

You can of course still add groups, tasks, and materials to your project or delete the ones that aren’t relevant. 

  • Add a group by clicking on Add group
  • Add a task by clicking on Add task or +Add line.
    You can also add an assignee or multiple assignees to the task.

    All assignees added to a task in the project will automatically appear in the ‘Assignees’ field in the header.

    Fill in the start and end date. There are several safety mechanisms built in to make sure you can deliver your project on time and within budget. When you exceed the end date of a task, material or group, you will receive a notification for this. The same happens when you set the price or cost budget. When your price or cost goes over this budget, you will also receive a notification.

  • Add a material by clicking on the arrow next to Add task > Add material or +Add line.

To improve the flexibility of the project module, you can drag and drop groups, tasks, and materials to alter the order or move something to another group.

Depending on how things are going, you can change the status of the tasks and materials to: To do, In progress, On hold, and Done. Note that the statuses are also colour coded.

You can add columns to the work breakdown overview or delete them. In order to do that, click on the cogwheel and add all the columns you want.

Also note that you can always duplicate tasks, materials, groups one by one or all at once. Lastly, you can merge groups by dragging one group and dropping it into another.

Don’t try to put a price on creativity

In the next phase, you want to be cost-effective, but it is not always easy to stick to a fixed price. 

By talking to different agencies, we learnt the following things. A creative campaign consists of many different deliverables: graphic design, web development, photography, and so on. You can put a fixed price on a number of these items (such as how much time goes into developing the framework of a website), but certain items are difficult to put a price tag on.

We’ve created several billing methods for you to follow up on your project in a more flexible and creative way. Long story short: you choose. You can pick a billing method for the whole project, for the group or for a specific item (task or material). Read all about billing methods here.

For the whole project, you can choose the following billing methods: 

  • Time and materials: The default billing method for a project, based on all time and materials in a project. Note that you can also set custom user rates per project, which you can read more about here.
  • Fixed price: A fixed price for the whole project is set. Underlying work will not have an individual price, but instead will have ‘Budget spent’, which is an indication on how well the fixed price is working out.
  • Non-billable: The entire project is non-billable. There are no prices or invoice options.

As stated above, you can be creative and deviate from this default billing method specifically for tasks, for example. For tasks, we’ve added more billing methods because certain services require a different billing method. These are the options:

After you’ve defined your different billing methods, it’s time to follow up on your actual work and register it. When you work in a creative agency, you need to be vigilant of your time, so you're not overspending it. Time tracking is really key here.

Add time tracking on a task by clicking on +Add time tracking. Here you can decide if the time tracking should be billable or not; this makes it possible for example to add non-billable timetracking to billable tasks. Do you want to add time tracking in bulk at the end of the week, for example? Then you can use our weekly time tracking functionality!

If we look back to our helicopter view and the importance of keeping an overview at all times, then you might be interested in exporting a report of your timesheet per project as well. Go to the header and click on the three dots in the top right-hand corner > Export timesheet.

Send your customers an update on the time tracking of a project without creating an invoice first, or select this option to have an internal overview of the time already spent.

  • This option is only accessible to admins or project owners
  • You can export a report both to PDF and Excel
  • Pick a language to match the language of your customer

Invoice your project in a flexible way

For creative agencies, it’s important to keep an overview of who’s working on what and to then bill that time to your customer. You can easily convert your project to an invoice.

Here it’s important to decide if you want to invoice everything all at once based on your time & materials, or based on a certain time period of your time trackings. It’s also possible to just create blank invoices that are then linked to the project. This all depends on your way of working and might even differ project by project.

Are you on a GO package but interested in trying out our project module? Then start your free 14-day trial here!