The Secrets Behind Effective Agency Resource Management

Arrigo Lupori
Last Updated:
May 17, 2024

Efficient resource management is crucial for the success of your creative agency.

Managing your resources effectively is not just about getting the most out of your manpower; it's about orchestrating it in a way that maximizes your agency's overall efficiency and profitability. 

I’ll take you through the secret sauce behind effective agency resource management, including best practices, strategies and tools to optimize your operations, turning them into a profitable business.

Understanding agency resource management

Resource management involves the anticipation, monitoring, and control of human capabilities, material resources, and technological processes to achieve a fully-optimized agency business.

It’s a vital topic that covers balancing workloads, maximizing efficiency, and ensuring that all resources are used effectively to meet strategic objectives.

Effective resource management ensures that all team members can focus on their strengths while minimizing waste and redundancy in processes.

"Effective resource management is the backbone of any successful agency. It allows you to make the most of your resources while ensuring that your team remains motivated and productive."

The cornerstones of resource management include:

Human resources

Skills, experience, and availability of your team.

Material resources

Physical tools and materials needed to complete projects.

Technological processes

Software and systems that support your agency's operations.

Financial performance

Everything that revolves around sales, accounting, money-making.

A good mix of these 4 elements will get you far, but of course it’s not as easy as listing them and going at it; there are (big) nuances to each of them which I’ll help you navigate in detail.

Establishing clear goals and objectives

Setting clear, measurable objectives is the first step in effective resource management. (This is the first step in any viable business strategy!)

"Setting clear goals and aligning team efforts with these objectives is crucial. Without measurable targets, it's impossible to gauge success or make necessary adjustments."

This process doesn’t have to be complicated:

  • Define success criteria: Establish what "success" looks like for each project and set measurable targets to gauge performance. Only do this with 2 to 4 objectives, don’t overshoot it.
  • Communicate goals: Ensure that all team members are aware of and committed to the objectives. Repeat yourself if you need to, always remind the team of the goals.

By setting clear objectives and revisiting them, your agency can maintain focus and drive, ensuring that all team members understand their roles and contributions towards the agency's (and their) success.

Making decisions driven by data

Leveraging data analysis tools is crucial for making informed decisions.

using financial reporting tools like manyrequests is fundamental for agency resource management
Timesheet reports say a lot about an agency's use of resources

By using dashboards and analytics, your agency can gain insights into resource usage and identify areas for improvement:

Use dashboards

Implement tools that provide real-time data on resource utilization.

Apply predictive analytics

Use historical data to anticipate future needs and potential risks.

This integrated approach to data helps ensure that every decision, from resource allocation to project prioritization, is backed by clear, actionable metrics.

Also, predictive models can help you anticipate client needs, identify potential bottlenecks before they become issues, and adjust resource levels to match the expected demand.

Evaluate and adjust based on that data

Continuously evaluate resource management initiatives to ensure that they remain effective—regularly measuring performance and making necessary adjustments based on metrics is essential.

  • Frequent reviews: Conduct regular reviews of each initiative to assess performance.
  • Flexible adjustments: Be prepared to adjust and reallocate resources as needed.

To effectively implement this, you should set regular intervals for performance reviews—quarterly, for example.

During these sessions, your managers and team leaders should assess whether the current management strategies are meeting the set objectives based on the data collected.

If discrepancies or opportunities for improvement are identified, you should act accordingly. 

This could involve reallocating resources, refining processes, or even revisiting client acquisition strategies to ensure they align with both the agency’s capabilities and client expectations.

Make the customer the absolute priority

Creating a smooth client experience is critical for agency success.

By focusing on clear communication, efficient processes, and high-quality deliverables, you’ll reduce complaints and move faster.

In every interaction, your agency must ensure that clients feel valued.

using interactive feedback tools can make customers feel heard and engaged
Using interactive feedback tools can make customers feel heard and engaged

This can be achieved by implementing a structured onboarding process which helps set the stage for all subsequent communications.

You should strive to underpromise and overdeliver. Understand the customers’ needs, adapt services accordingly, and always aim to deliver more value.

Phases of resource management for your agency

The first part of succeeding as an agency is understanding where you stand at the moment.

Estimating resources involves collecting and analyzing data from various sources to understand demand and supply. Accurate resource estimation helps in planning effectively and avoiding last-minute surprises.

Generally, you're looking to solve 4 problems:

Sales funnel

Monitor the stages of leads and potential clients to anticipate future resource needs.

Scheduled resources

Track current resource allocation to identify overbooked or underused team members.

Hiring timelines

Plan for new hires or contractors based on upcoming projects and workloads.

Delivery backlog

Review pending projects to allocate resources effectively.

Resource estimation is not just about matching supply with demand; it's also about understanding the nuances of each project and its specific requirements.

For instance, complex projects may require more specialized skills, which might need additional training or hiring.

"Accurate resource estimation is key. By analyzing data from your sales funnel and delivery backlog, you can plan effectively and avoid last-minute surprises."

Looking into both the skills inventory and the project pipeline, your agency can make informed decisions about when to hire, who to hire, and how to allocate their current team most efficiently.

This proactive approach to resource management can save you from costly last-minute hires and ensure that projects are not just completed, but are completed well within the client’s specifications.

Scheduling resources

Understanding your agency's actual capacity is crucial for effective scheduling. 

Capacity planning and skill matching ensure quality work and timely project completion.

  • Capacity planning: Determines how many hours each team member can realistically devote to a project. A team member’s real productive hours are usually 4 - 5 on a given business day. 
  • Skill matching: Assigns tasks based on individual skills and experience to ensure quality work. You obviously can’t assign a graphic designer to develop a website, but there are slighter nuances between roles, like programmers not necessarily specializing in web development.

Capacity planning involves calculating the maximum number of work hours available and matching them to project timelines.

This ensures that projects are staffed appropriately.

Skill matching improves this process by aligning specific talents and capabilities of team members with the tasks that best suit their strengths, improving both efficiency and job satisfaction.

Delivering projects

using a client portal like manyrequests helps you deliver projects directly within the customer's environment
Inviting customers directly into a project discussion is a great way to build trust

Project delivery requires optimal collaboration and transparent communication. Using a unified platform for all project tasks and updates reduces the need for long meetings and ensures alignment.

Concepts that will help you here are:

Unified platforms

Use a single platform for all project tasks and updates to reduce the need for long meetings. Keep non-confidential documents available for all team members to see.

Clear communication

Maintain open channels of communication to ensure everyone is on the same page. You can use tools like Slack or Google Chat to achieve this.

Implementing a project management tool that integrates task management with communication tools allows for much more effective collaboration.

For instance, platforms like ManyRequests can be used to assign tasks, track progress, and facilitate communication within the same environment.

This reduces confusion and ensures that all team members have the latest updates at their fingertips, which is crucial for the timely and successful delivery of projects.

Optimizing resources

Utilization reports help identify blind spots and bottlenecks in resource management.

Monitoring department, team, and individual performance through utilization dashboards can pinpoint areas where resources are being wasted or underutilized.

Concepts that will help you here are:

Utilization dashboards

Monitor department, team, and individual performance.

Bottleneck identification

Use reports to pinpoint areas where resources are being wasted or underutilized.

Effective resource optimization involves regular analysis of how resources are currently being used, making adjustments to improve efficiency.

This might mean reallocating team members to different projects, investing in training, or adjusting project timelines to better match resource availability.

Analyzing results

Regularly checking key metrics like utilization rates and profitability helps in assessing the effectiveness of your resource management objectives.

Don’t just set them and forget them! Conduct weekly reviews and final analysis at the end of a project to identify strengths and areas for improvement.

  • Weekly reviews: Regular reviews to track project progress and performance.
  • Final analysis: Analyze project data to identify strengths and areas for improvement.

Establish metrics that reflect strategic objectives and review these metrics frequently to determine if you’re getting closer to the overarching objectives.

This could include analyzing time spent on different tasks, the cost of project delivery, client satisfaction levels, sales conversion rates, and more.

Overcoming common challenges with agency resources

In this journey to profitability, you’re bound to encounter roadblocks.

time tracking helps you spot profitability issues
Time tracking helps you spot profitability issues

Ensuring visibility to available resources can mitigate them, like daily time tracking and centralized data systems (e.g. CRMs, ERPs) that help maintain accurate records and manage resource allocation.

  • Daily time tracking: Ensure team members track their time daily to understand if projects are profitable. Agencies are a heavily people-driven business; the less time you spend on a project while still delivering high quality, the more you keep in your pockets. It’s that simple.
  • Centralized data: Use a centralized system to track and manage resource allocation across projects. That could be a CRM system combined with a client portal like ManyRequests.

But even with proper tracking, challenges like unexpected project scope changes or sudden employee absences can disrupt workflow and impact productivity.

I’ll share a few ways to reduce these risks.

Sudden increase in demand

Managing rapid changes in project management requires flexibility.

Resource forecasting helps anticipate future demand to scale in time and meet increased demand:

Resource forecasting

Anticipate future demand based on current trends and historical data.

Scalable processes

Implement tools and processes that can scale quickly to meet increased demand.

Using flexible staffing models (e.g. productized services) and web-based project management software allows your agency to adjust their capabilities quickly and efficiently.

Remote work

Regular check-ins and setting clear expectations is key for managing remote teams. With the increase in remote work, your agency must adapt its resource management strategies to accommodate distributed teams

(i.e. Team members across different time zones)

Regular virtual check-ins and clear, documented expectations help ensure that remote employees are well-integrated into project teams and fully aware of their responsibilities. Tools that facilitate remote collaboration, like video conferencing and shared digital workspaces, are also vital.

Don’t skimp on this.

It’s the lifeline of your organization.

Leave management

Incorporate vacation and sick leave into resource planning from the get-go; the last thing you want is to become aware that an employee is going away for 2 weeks just a few days before.

Follow 2 simple strategies:

  • Leave scheduling: Use management tools to schedule and track leave requests.
  • Contingency planning: Have backup plans in place for when team members are on leave.

Effective leave management prevents work disruptions and ensures continuity in project delivery.

Your agency should implement clear policies for scheduling leave and ensure these policies are communicated effectively to all team members.

Onboarding new team members

Efficient onboarding processes help integrate new hires smoothly.

Structured onboarding plans and mentorship programs ensure that new team members are well-prepared and supported.

Tools and technologies for agency resource management

You can't talk about resources without mentioning project management.

"The right project management software makes a world of difference. It helps in tracking progress, managing tasks, and ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks."

Effective project management software is indispensable for tracking progress and managing tasks efficiently.

Features such as task allocation, progress tracking, and integration capabilities ensure that projects stay on track and team members remain productive.

Look for the following capabilities:

Task allocation

Easily assign tasks to team members based on their skills and availability.

Progress tracking

Monitor the status of tasks and projects in real-time.

Integration capabilities

Ensure the software integrates with other tools used by your agency.

These tools not only streamline project management but also improve the overall operational efficiency of the agency, enabling better resource utilization and more accurate planning.

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems

a crm like manyrequests can go a long way towards ensuring smooth client communication
A CRM like ManyRequests can go a long way towards building customer relationships

Integrating CRM systems with resource management improves client satisfaction by providing a centralized platform for managing customer relationships.

Benefits include storing comprehensive client profiles and automating routine communications, which streamline interactions and improve the customer’s experience.

  • Client profiles: Store comprehensive information about each client, including project details and communication history. This gives you the context to build a meaningful relationship.
  • Automated communication: Use the CRM to automate routine communications, such as follow-up emails and project updates, freeing up time better spent on delivering projects.

CRM systems are crucial for maintaining detailed records of client interactions, which can be invaluable for both current project management and future sales efforts.

They help agencies understand their clients better and tailor their services accordingly.

Time tracking for agencies

Time tracking tools protect and optimize team productivity by providing insights into how long tasks take to complete. This helps in increasing profitability, identifying inefficiencies and ensuring accurate billing.

Concepts that will help you here are:

Real-time tracking

Monitor the time spent on each task as it happens.


Generate detailed reports on time usage to identify inefficiencies.

With daily time tracking, your agency can identify areas of improvement and ensure accurate billing. These critical insights help you make informed decisions about resource allocation and pricing.

Financial management tools

Integrating financial tools with resource management streamlines invoicing, payments, and reporting. This helps keep a steady cash flow and simplifies management by automating core processes.

  • Invoicing: Create and send invoices automatically based on project milestones or time tracked.
  • Payments: Enable clients to pay invoices directly through the management platform.

From tracking expenses and managing budgets to forecasting future financial needs, automating these processes reduces administrative overhead and allows you to focus more on strategic activities.

Collaboration platforms

Collaboration platforms like ManyRequests provide real-time updates and secure communication channels, ensuring that all team members are aligned, informed, and ready to roll.

Two important pieces of functionality are required:

File sharing

Share files securely within the platform, eliminating the need for email attachments.

Real-time updates

Ensure all team members are updated on project changes instantly.

This is particularly important for agencies with remote or distributed teams, as it helps maintain project continuity and team cohesion.

But they also work well for in-person collaboration.

Implementing agency resource management software

Implementing an effective agency resource management strategy involves several steps, including deploying software meant to help you speed up the value generation process.

Step 1: Centralize client & project management

client & project management portal for agency called manyrequests

Begin by centralizing all client and project management activities.

Use a platform that allows you to manage clients, timelines, and projects from a single interface.

Keeping everything in one place reduces the risk of miscommunication and improves workflow efficiency by giving team members a comprehensive overview of all ongoing activities.

Step 2: Streamline client onboarding

a client portal like ManyRequests can help with making onboarding a pleasurable experience for agency customers

Use onboarding tools to create a seamless experience for new clients.

Customizable layouts, login screens, and branded emails help new customers feel at home. You also want a platform that unifies project management with customer relationship management (CRM), something that a tool like ManyRequests can carry out through an integrated client portal.

Step 3: Simplify task and time management

daily time tracking helps your agency gauge profitability and optimize resource management

Use time tracking to monitor projects and ensure that team members remain productive. Live tracking and detailed timesheet reports help in increasing profits by ensuring accurate billing and resource allocation.

This step is vital for keeping projects on schedule and identifying areas where efficiency can be further improved. For example, you can use these tools to adjust allocations and prevent bottlenecks.

It also helps in identifying which tasks take more time than budgeted, allowing for adjustments in future project planning and pricing strategies—it's a strategic business tool!

Step 4: Improve client communication and feedback

manyrequests helps your agency implement proper client communication for resource management

Feedback and commenting tools allow clients to provide direct feedback on your deliverables, speeding up the revision process and ensuring clarity in communication.

By facilitating easier and clearer communication, these tools help prevent misunderstandings and keep projects moving forward.

Regular updates and the ability to comment directly on work in progress make clients feel more involved and valued, which is crucial for building long-term relationships.

Step 5: Use financial management tools

automated invoicing via manyrequests can help your agency manage resources effectively

Automate invoicing, payment tracking, and financial reporting with integrated financial tools. This helps maintain a steady cash flow and reduces admin burden.

Automation also ensures that invoices are sent on time and payments are tracked accurately, which helps in forecasting financial health and making informed business decisions.

Step 6: Continuous improvement with customer feedback

Regularly collect and analyze customer feedback to identify areas for improvement.

A feedback gathering platform like ManyRequests can simplify this process by automating review collection at the end of each project, which helps identify what's working well and what to improve.

Final recap to keep as reference in your agency

By implementing best practices, using the right tools, and continuously adjusting strategies, your agency can improve its operations and deliver exceptional results.

Here’s a summary of the major areas we’ve talked about:

Key aspectDescriptionRoles requiredKPIs to check for
Clear goals and objectivesSetting measurable targets to align team efforts.Project Managers, Team LeadsQuarterly achievement rate, Team alignment
Data-driven decisionsUsing analytics to inform resource allocation and planning.Data Analysts, ManagersResource utilization, Forecast accuracy
Regular evaluationContinuous assessment of performance and adjustment of strategies.Project Managers, AnalystsPerformance metrics, Quality control
Client satisfactionEnsuring a smooth client experience through effective communication and service delivery.Account Managers, Client SupportClient feedback scores, Retention rates
Project management toolsUsing software to track progress and manage tasks.Project Managers, Team MembersTask completion rates, Project timeliness
CRM systemsCentralized platform for managing customer relationships.Sales Teams, Account ManagersClient interaction frequency, Expansion rate
Time-tracking solutionsMonitoring and reporting time spent on tasks for productivity improvements.Team Members, HRBillable vs non-billable, Productivity rates
Financial toolsAutomating financial processes for efficient management.Finance Teams, ManagersCost of goods sold, Positive cash flow
Collaboration platformsEnhancing communication and file-sharing capabilities.All Team MembersTime to delivery, Number of meetings
Resource estimationAccurate prediction of resource needs based on data.Project Managers, AnalystsEstimation accuracy, Project profitability
Scheduling resourcesEffective planning of team capacity and skill matching.Project Managers, HRDelivery cadence, Task suitability
Optimizing resourcesIdentifying and addressing bottlenecks and inefficiencies.Managers, AnalystsUtilization rates, Team alignment

This comprehensive approach ensures that you meet and exceed customer expectations, fostering growth and maintaining a significant advantage in the competitive agency industry.