Moving your organization green

by Barry on October 20, 2010

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There are many benefits to going green. You are making a statement that the environment is important and that you want it to be around for our children and grand-children. Going green can save money and time and it is contagious. Your staff is more likely to emulate the behavior in their homes and you will attract others who believe that going green is the only way to go. And you can use this as a marketing advantage in attracting new clients.

The following tips help your organization go green. While you may not be able to apply them all, the more that you can do will make the world that much of a better place. [click to continue…]

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Change happens…deal with it!

by Barry on October 12, 2010

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One of the things that holds back many people is their resistance to change. To succeed in the business world, you need to first recognize that change is happening, and then quickly adapt to the change. While such a simple philosophy, there are so many of us who are not very good at handling change. I know because for way too many years, I was one of those people. Then one of my managers recommended the book, “Who Moved My Cheese”, and ever since, I have been a convert. I loved the book so much that I immediately went out and bought copies of the book for every member of my team and made it required reading for them followed up a training session to discuss the book.

The premise of the book is about two mice who go the same spot everyday in a maze looking for their daily cheese. One day the cheese is moved to another location. One of the mice went looking for the cheese in another location while the other mouse stayed in the old location waiting for the cheese to return. The mouse who went looking for cheese in the new location thrived as it found the cheese while the other mouse did not fare so well. [click to continue…]

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KPIs myths exposed

by Barry on October 11, 2010

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Most organizations have no idea of how to implement Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). They either measure everything that moves, or they operate in the blind and measure nothing except perhaps revenues or profitability.

KPIs allows you to quickly and directly evaluate the health of an organization. It is important to select the right KPIs to measure. This is the hardest part in determining your KPI strategy. You want to select those KPIs that truly tell you how your business is doing, and what are the true root-cause measurements you should be evaluating. They should be closely tied to your overall business strategy. For example, Southwest Airlines determined that their operations is based on a quick turnaround time of their planes once their planes reach the gate. They concluded that this allows them to fly fewer planes and have more on-time departures, which allows them to lower prices and gain more customers, ultimately making them more profitable. So whenever a Southwest plane touches down, every person who works for Southwest is doing their part to turn around their planes in thirty minutes or less. [click to continue…]

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Fixing organization confusion

by Barry on October 7, 2010

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In your organization, is there confusion over what does a project manager does versus an account executive, or who develops the creative brief? How do new hires quickly come up-to-speed learning what they are responsible for? As you plan that next reorg, how are you going to reallocate work so that you are certain that everything is covered?

Having a clear definition of everyone’s roles and responsibilities is crucial for an organization. Sure, you can get along without one, but then you probably don’t even realize that your organization probably wastes a lot of time constantly battling over who does what, or ever worse, not giving your people the authority that they need to do their jobs, which leads to an inefficient organization and higher employee-turnover.
[click to continue…]

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Three easy steps for dealing with mistakes

by Barry on October 1, 2010

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Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. It is part of life and part of business. The only question is how you react to the mistake. Do you deny the mistake or do you admit to it and use it as a learning experience? It amazes me how many business (and political) leaders first try denying the mistake before they change their story and finally admit to it.

One of the true signs of a leader is how they handle mistakes. This applies to mistakes made by yourself, your team, or your organization. The following three steps will get you there.
[click to continue…]

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Post image for Why big agencies still cannot deliver digital-Reason #1: <p>Introducing Creative Lock

There are many reasons why big agencies are having trouble moving to digital. While some of them have solved these problems, many big agencies are left behind in the dust. This post is the first of a series that examines these issues.

One of the absolutes of executing digital projects is creative lock. Creative lock refers to a point in time (that is, a milestone) where the creative (including design, copy, editorial, site architecture and wireframes) is locked and no more changes can be made. No changes really means no changes, not even small ones! The exact time that creative lock occurs varies by the type of project. For example, on a microsite development project, creative lock is typically at the point when everything is handed off to the technology team to code. On a display ad project, it occurs when the display ads are handed to the production to be resized and tagged. [click to continue…]

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Post image for 90% of Project Management is about doing the basics but doing them exceptionally well

There is no great secret or magical potion to being a good Project Manager. 90% of the job is about doing the basics, but doing them exceptionally well.

What does this mean? You can ignore the long job spec that your HR group loves. Instead below is a list of the top ten things that a Project Manager does. [click to continue…]

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Post image for Performance reviews suck (and 3 steps for fixing them)

Does this sound familiar to you? Once a year, you get a notice from your HR person that it is time for the annual performance reviews. So all of the managers spend the next few weeks reviewing everyone’s performance, and determining who get the allocation of available money for raises.

The idea of yearly performance reviews is ridiculous and should be abolished immediately. It does very little to actually motivate people, and does a poor job at measuring performance. Instead I advocate making three changes. [click to continue…]

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Implementing a digital strategy

by Barry on September 10, 2010

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Too many brands are developing a Facebook page only because their CMO read in a trade magazine that they should be on Facebook but they have no idea of why. The end result is that some marketing manager deep within the organization creates a Facebook page, posts one or two promotional videos, or perhaps a copy of their television ad, but it is completely disconnected from their brands and from their campaigns that are in-market. The result is lost opportunity and brand confusion in the marketplace. This all could have been avoiding by having a proper digital strategy.

When developing your digital strategy, your strategy needs to be integrated with your overall marketing strategy so that you have a cohesive brand and user experience. You want customers to experience the same brand and campaign traits regardless if they are in one of your stores, talking to one of your reps on the phone, reading an email from your company, visiting your web site, viewing banner ads, or posting updates to your Facebook wall. [click to continue…]

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Characteristics of a great leader

by Barry on September 6, 2010

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Who was the best leader you have ever worked for? What are the traits that made this this person a great leader, and what the characteristics that all great leaders share?

Below are the nine essential traits that a leader should possess. When going through this list, it does not matter if you are leading a team of three people, a department of 100, or an entire organization of thousands. While going through this list, ask yourself how do you rate?

1. Believe in a vision. Leaders must set a vision, and get people to believe in that vision. The vision is something that everyone should aspire to, in everything that they do. Find people who support the vision and who will help spread the word. [click to continue…]

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Post image for Back to Basics: How to Write a Statement of Work

Writing a Statement of Work (SOW) is one of the most important things that an agency does. Frequently it is the first deliverable that a client sees. It is crucial that your SOW is telling the client a story. It starts with the “why”, then moves to the “how” and “what”, followed by the “when”, and “how much”. Everything should be cohesive with a flow so that it is easy to follow. Don’t treat the SOW as a “form” that you simply fill in the blanks. This article explains what is contained with a SOW, and provides a SOW template that you can download and use.

Contrary to what many people believe, the Statement of Work (SOW) is not a sales tool. It should only be given to clients after you have their agreement as to the scope, schedule, key assumptions and price. Many people believe that the SOW is where you first present this information. WRONG! The SOW is a legal contract used to document the agreement only after the business terms have been agreed. This preliminary agreement can be verbal. This means that if there are price issues (and there always are!), have those negotiations before the SOW is presented. Yes, you could ignore this advice and use the SOW to negotiate the contract but doing so will always take more time. [click to continue…]

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Post image for Pricing Methodologies 101: Pricing projects profitably

Is it best to price that new project on a Fixed Fee or a Time and Materials basis? Perhaps we should structure it on a Cost Plus basis, a Revenue Sharing model, or maybe Commission based? What are the advantages of each to an agency? From a client perspective, what are the pros and cons of each?

There are many factors in determining which pricing methodology to use such as client preferences, agency preferences, campaign objectives, and scope details. This article describes each methodology, focusing on the pros and cons from both the client and agency point of views. [click to continue…]

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Selecting and managing off-shore vendors

by Barry on July 14, 2010

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Why off-shore
There are many reasons to move work off-shore such as reducing costs, reducing time-to-market, using specialized services without having to hire full time staff, and adding the ability to handle additional work during your peak times without hiring additional full time employees.

There are also many reasons not to move work off-shore such as security concerns, creative control is harder to achieve, negative impact to your culture, and if not done properly, moving work off-shore can increase costs and negatively impact schedules. [click to continue…]

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Building your management team

by Barry on June 7, 2010

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Selecting your agency’s team structure and finding the right people is one of the most difficult parts of setting up an agency. Too many agencies don’t put enough thought into the structure or they change their structure at the flip of a dime. As a result, they don’t have the proper organization to sustain them in the long-term. The following steps guide you through how to setup your management team.

Note that the actual titles vary depending on the organization. For sake of this discussion, I am referring to the person in charge of the organization as the CEO.  Other typical titles for this person are President, Managing Director and General Manager.

Step 1: Understand (or develop) your organization’s vision and subsequently your strategy

Developing a vision is one of the most important parts of setting up an organization. Everything starts with the vision, the strategy needs to drive from that vision, and every action that the organization makes needs to be on-strategy (and conversely on-vision). The vision should be real and something that everyone in the organization can grasp; a rallying cry so that everyone understands and more importantly, that they believe in. I’ve seen way too many organizations with a lack of vision, resulting in no cohesiveness across departments and each department trying to build its own empire instead of working together under a common vision. [click to continue…]

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Post image for How to write emails so people stop ignoring you

Being able to clearly and concisely communicate using email is one of the most important traits for just about anyone working in the corporate world. It doesn’t matter what your role is, or how senior you may be, if you cannot communicate well using email, it is a huge handicap.

The most important consideration is to ask yourself before sending any email is “can this email be avoided?”  We need to break the addiction from email. I’m not saying that we should not use email, but do you really need to send an email to the designer / writer / account director / your boss who sits 20 feet from you? Instead get up and go talk to that person. It will be good for both you and your waistline. If they are not close to you, call them on the phone. This allows a real two-way dialog to occur. Remember that  email at its best is a one-way communications tool. [click to continue…]

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Clear those red flags when pitching

by Barry on April 15, 2010

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One of the necessary evils of our business is pitching new work. Unless you have figured out how to have infinite resources and infinite time, it is essential to qualify all leads before you assign a pitch team. Any red flags needs to be resolved. You don’t want to spend your agency’s limited resources on opportunities where you are unlikely to win and the revenue potential is small. The advantages of a diligent qualification process are:

  • More resources are available to help on pitches that you can actually win
  • Protects your team from wasting their time
  • Maintains morale as no one likes working on losing pitches.
  • Improves your win rate
  • Lowers costs as you will need to pull in less freelancers to either work on the pitch or the backfill for other people who were pulled into the pitch

[click to continue…]

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Explaining the role of operations

by Barry on April 7, 2010

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One question I hear often is “what is operations and what do you do?” While there are many definitions regarding operations, my view is that the operations group in an advertising agency is responsible for running the day-to-day business of the organization, maintaining profitability targets, ensuring consistency, and being a key part of the senior management team. In short, operations is responsible for getting things done. For the execution of all things.

The operations group is typically led by a COO, who partners extensively with the CEO providing leadership and direction for all business activities. The COO also works very closely with the other department leads including client services, strategy/planning, creative, technology, media, production, HR, finance and IT. One frequent question is how does operations differ from project managers.  The main difference is that project managers are focused on the success of their projects while the operations group focuses on the success of the office. Obviously there is much overlap and in a typical agency environment, the project management group reports to the COO. [click to continue…]

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Bring that entrepreneur spirit

by Barry on March 29, 2010

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Acting like an entrepreneur means that you are committed, that putting in the minimum is not good enough, and that you can be trusted to do what say that you’re going to do.  You treat every project as if your personal success depends on the project succeeding.

As a result, people will want to work with you even more. Companies will want to hire you.  Co-workers will want you on their team. Clients will feel your commitment and will request you. People will see that you are not focused on putting in the minimum 40 hours or only thinking about winning that next award, and instead that you really care about doing a good job, every time.

Here are my top ten tips for acting like an entrepreneur. [click to continue…]

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Guide for working with freelancers

by Barry on March 22, 2010

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Using freelancers is a great way to solve your staffing gaps if you need to additional coverage because someone is on vacation, you have too much work, or if you need specialized help. There are many benefits to establishing a good relationship and treating freelancers with respect.  I’ve seen too many companies treat freelancers poorly and having hired hundreds of freelancers, and spending time as a freelancer, I’ve compiled tips and guidelines for working with freelancers.  Like all relationships, the goal is to make sure that everyone gets what they want (a win-win). [click to continue…]

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Ten Ways to Screw up a Project

by Barry on March 14, 2010

Danger sign

After way too many years screwing up projects for clients, I thought that it would be good to share my experiences so that you too can learn how to screw up projects for your clients. Be forewarned that you cannot expect to screw up a project by accident as it will take years to master these techniques.

Before we get to the list, let’s cover a few basics. First, the best time to screw up a project is right in the beginning. Might as well start screwing up during the pitch. Or if that’s not possible, there are plenty of opportunities during planning and concepting. This means that you can screw up early and then relax. [click to continue…]

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Are you a Manager or a Leader?

by Barry on March 11, 2010

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There has been a lot written about leadership versus management. Most of these treat management as an evil, and attributes the success of organizations to having strong leaders. I believe that successful organizations need to have people who are equally skilled as both managers and leaders.

An effective organization needs to have managers who also possess strong leadership skills. While it is important for the manager to control costs, measure sales, and make the organization as efficient as possible (all management traits), it is also crucial for the manager to communicate a vision, develop a culture based on trust and respect, and mentor its staff (all leadership traits). [click to continue…]

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Project Management in a digital agency

by Barry on March 11, 2010

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I am often asked by members of my team, job candidates, recruiters, clients, and client prospects what are the most important aspects of a Project Manager in a digital agency? The top three things that I look for are Project Managers who acts as risk manager, provides flexibility while protecting the agency, and are integration experts.

1. Acts as Risk Managers
Project Managers need to view themselves as a risk manager. This can be difficult as most Project Managers believe that their most important task is to act as the protector of the schedule and budget. My view is much more holistic. Although managing the schedule and budget are components of a Project Manager’s job, their primary responsibility is to manage risk. They need to anticipate everything that can go wrong on a project, and make sure that what can go wrong is mitigated. A Project Manager can come up with thousands of excuses why their project can fail. Their job is to make sure that the project does not fail and that it is delivered successfully every single time. [click to continue…]

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Help! Too many social networking sites

by Barry on March 10, 2010

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If you’re anything like me, you’re inundated with requests from social networking sites. There seems to be new sites sprouting up every week and they each claim to fill a niche that no one else does. It’s been confusing figuring out which invites to respond to, or which sites I should pay attention to. To see how everyone else is handling this overload, I conducted a very informal survey a few weeks ago to see which social networking sites are useful, and what are the shared best practices. Here are the results of my research and analysis.

Professional Use
For professional use, almost everyone agrees that Linkedin is the clear winner. Pretty much everyone has a Linkedin account and if you don’t have a Linkedin account, then you should sign up for one today. According to Linkedin, they have 19 million registered users. Their focus is on building and maintaining a professional network and they also provide a job posting board, service providers, and an Answers section (similar to Yahoo Answers). You should also pay attention to Linkedin’s newly designed home page. From a usability perspective, this is a big improvement. [click to continue…]

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To blog or not to blog

by Barry on March 10, 2010

Question Mark

After starting this blog two years ago and writing a few articles, I put the blog on hold. I was on the fence whether blogging made sense or not, after all, what could I say that is not currently being said elsewhere in the hundreds of millions of blogs already out there.

I now realize that my decision to stop blogging was a mistake. As my blog byline states, by focusing on people and process, you enable profitability. My niche is helping organizations align the right people and develop processes for how things get done in a repeatable and scalable manner, which drives efficiency and ultimately profitability.

You will read articles on the three P’s: People, Process and Profitability. We will focus on how to find top talent, use that talent effectively, identify the top 20% and bottom 10%, developing a repeatable and scalable process, working with vendors, implementing new technologies such as mobile, driving efficiencies and improving profitability.

Disclaimer – due to nasty malware that infected my original blog, I ended up tearing down the old blog and rebuilding it from the ground up. The good news is that this newer version is more secure (I hope) and is better designed making it easier to read.

Enjoy.

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