Successful IT in Digital & Creative Agencies

We have a large number of Digital and Creative Agency clients and they have specific IT challenges. For these clients, our IT Directors need to both enhance their work and enable creativity, whilst boosting their profitability and reducing risk.

Creative agencies typically have many talented staff most of whom are highly web literate, but they may have little interest, training or motivation to ensure their own IT systems and infrastructure are well organised, structured and maintained.

Specifically, agencies have IT challenges because:

1. they have complex estates of IT kit including large numbers of Macs, remote working, temporary associates, and large file storage requirements.

2. staff need reliable IT so they can spend their time doing great work, have the freedom to innovate, and are able to access IT facilities rapidly when they need them

3. but at the same time, cybersecurity must be maintained and disaster recovery plans must be in place as the whole operation is completely dependent on smooth running IT.

Addressing these issues is difficult. But, once overcome, our clients’ efficiency and effectiveness has been significantly improved.

Key areas where we believe focus is necessary are as follows:

IT Strategy – A simple, agreed IT strategy, regularly reviewed and kept alive. With so many IT literate staff, and cultures which are often open and inclusive this may need wide-ranging discussions, and “the discussion process” may be as important as the actual conclusion.

Internal Infrastructure – Overhaul of internal IT facilities for data storage, networking, email, video, phone and other communication/collaboration. Cloud services like Google, Box or Office365 should be used where possible, but large files need to be properly handled, as well as home working and facilities for associates. In particular, backups need to run smoothly (despite large files) and restores need to be tested. Good asset management practices ensure no money is wasted and licenses are compliant. Whether IT support is inhouse or outsourced, it needs to be effective and managed, and urgent issues tackled effectively.

Hosting – Cloud hosting needs to be setup and monitored. Typically this will be based on Rackspace or AWS, but configuration should be standardised, and centralised.

Cybersecurity & Business Continuity – Practical policies must be agreed, properly communicated and enforced. This ranges from “traditional” issues like safeguarding personal, financial or client information. But may also include agreeing policies and practices for building secure websites or software applications. Security tools and products must be properly configured and maintained. Appropriate business continuity plans must agreed and occasionally practiced.

Systems, Management Reporting & BI – All agencies share the same challenges in terms of timesheets, billing, WIP, pipeline and resource management – though realistic practical solutions depend on the size and shape of the business. Managers typically want high quality regular reporting and, in businesses with strong visual cultures (!), then it’s important that these reports are well presented. This may be based on Excel, Power BI or a more specialist product like Tableau.

Dev team management & DevOps – In some cases our Principal needs to create and oversee an Agile development process. This may mean implementing a story backlog, standups, retrospectives and a Kanban. In addition there are detailed issues of separating development, test and live environments and automating test, build and deployment.

Client hosting packages – We often work with our clients to create standard hosting plans for their sales teams so they easily understand the hosting options available when pitching.

Although these points are central to smooth running Creative and Digital Agencies, they’re normally not issues they find very interesting!

Our Principals focus on getting this sorted, so the rest of your team can focus on your clients.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT Directors, CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with SME and mid-market organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.