Choosing a new system for your agency?

Top 10 Questions you should ask...

Over the last 15 years helping Creative businesses, we’ve seen a lot along the way. A common cause of frustration is a system that’s hard to use and doesn’t deliver. Here are 10 questions you must ask if you don’t want to end up with egg on your face...

1. Am I sure we need a new system? 

Crazy as it may sound, many agencies already have tech that isn’t being used to its full potential. There are many reasons, but often we find it’s because they have an out of date version, only a handful of people know how to use the system or new plug-ins haven’t been installed. All relatively simple fixes.

2. Will a new system really solve our problems?

Systems are NOT a silver bullet. If your process is painful, your structure isn’t right and you don’t have the right people doing the right jobs, a new system won’t help! This might be stating the bleedin’ obvious but it's not uncommon to think that a new system will be the silver bullet for multiple internal challenges.

 3. Will the system help or hinder?

Many bright shiny systems out there don’t live up to the demo. We often hear of complaints from the people using it day in and day out – “I spend more time updating the system than I do the work”.  The right system should, above all, be easy and intuitive to use, help your business perform better and be a benefit to your clients.

4. Do I know (in detail) the requirements from every department it will touch?

If you don’t, you’ll make assumptions. And we all know how that ends up. In reality, people won’t use it, it will fail and egg-on-face is never a good look (assuming you’re the person in charge of this initiative). Don’t make the common mistake of not bothering to gather requirements properly and to then wonder why the shiny new system doesn’t really work and why it doesn’t deliver on your business objectives.

5. What are the benefits for each department using it or affected by it?

If you can clearly articulate these, you can sell it internally and people will be pleased to use it. If you don’t, they won’t. Simple.

6. Can the vendor prove the ROI?

It's not unknown for some agency systems to actually undermine profitability. By Millions. That’s not an exaggeration, by the way. Spend time here pushing your vendors, working this out. If they can’t show you how they can deliver measurable ROI, walk away.

7. Have I invested enough in training?

More often than not, the demo is a thing of beauty that fills you with the hope that your business will be able to run way more effectively. And that it’s going to be so intuitive you won’t need that much training. However, in practice, people give up when they hit the first couple of obstacles. So the investment in training is as vital as the investment in the system itself. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that a day's training per department will cut it. It just won't.

8. Have I allowed for a testing period or soft launch?

Related to the point above, but what appears to be a straightforward system, in theory, isn’t to those that use all of its functionality in reality. Far better to test it in part of the business and to introduce parts of the system in phases. Test and learn what works and what doesn't.

9. Will the management team support and mandate its use?

If they won't. It will fail.

When you're happy that you've discovered the perfect system for your agency, then there's one last question you must ask:

10. Is it really, really, really the right system for us?

Before you sign on the dotted line, insist on a site visit to an agency that's using all of the functionality and has been for at least a year (without the vendor present). We've saved a bunch of agencies from making the wrong decision by this one simple step.

And lastly, here's a bonus tip ("Top 11 questions" didn't really cut it as a title):

Insist on your vendor using your agency as a case study (wording approved by you, of course) on their website, 6 months after go-live, for at least a year. This will help you guarantee the level of support you need to make the system a real success for your business.