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Managing workflow at a growing creative agency


User Stories is a regular column here on the WorkflowMax blog. Here, we get a company to walk us through their workflow process. Every company is different, and every firm has different methods and processes for managing their projects. Our hope is that by taking a look at what others do, you can find techniques to improve your own workflow.

Today we talk to Emma Bannister, director of Sydney-based creative agency, Presentation Studio


Tell us about your creative agency, Presentation Studio

The goal of what we do is help customers transform their presentations. We’re not an average design agency doing just any sort of branding or creative. We really focus on the presentation side of things. There’s only really a few agencies in the world that focus just on this area.

We’ll help with the content and the messaging of the presentation, because quite often people don’t think about their core message, or the audience. So we’ll help with that bit, and then from there we’re able to design the slides, on brand and with infographics to help present what they’re saying.

The core of it is about making the client look good, so they might either win their pitch, or get that job. It’s about helping the speaker to impress everyone.

We’ve got a team of 22 full-time in Sydney, and we use a range of contractors depending on workflow as well.

What kind of clients do you work with?

We mostly work with corporate enterprises. These are big companies that have very clear brands, but with so many employees it can be quite hard to keep that consistency in communication. We also help small start-ups or investor presentations. Anyone and everyone who has a PowerPoint presentation that they need to prepare!

What challenges were you facing when it came to your workflow?

As we started to grow, using a spreadsheet to manage the workflow of projects wasn’t scalable or manageable. We needed to be able to track hours and create estimates. We needed one central place where we could manage enquiries, leads and estimates, through to timesheeting, job management and invoicing.

Walk us through the life of a project:

We’ve recently set up an integration where completed website enquiry forms feed straight into WorkflowMax to instantly create a lead. We’re able to then create an estimate directly from the lead information provided. From those estimates, we’ve already had the tasks allocated, so once the estimate is accepted, the designers just go straight in to see the job, and they enter their timesheets against it. The designers have a more limited view of WorkflowMax, they only really need to see the jobs, the schedule, and their timesheet.

We have a studio manager who will schedule resources, and our account managers track the whole job as it’s going through, to make sure that it’s not going overtime.

We’ll run weekly reports on time management and profitability and productivity. We’ve got a whole schedule of reports that the managers review each week. We use the group feature within WorkflowMax, so the account managers can see the WIP value of what is live.

We have WorkflowMax integrated with Xero, so at the end of a project we can invoice out of there.

What kind of reports are you creating using WorkflowMax?

We run a report on the source of enquiries, and we’ll also run how many quotes were winning and invoicing. We are now tracking productivity hours - we weren’t measuring the estimated hours versus the actual hours versus the invoiced hours - once we started, we realised they weren’t all the same, so that was an eye-opener for us. Being aware of it means we can put the systems in place to make sure that we’re being as efficient as possible.

What do you love most about WorkflowMax?

I like the fact that it’s a visual thing. I like that you can timesheet against different tasks. We need to be able to set different stages of a project and track the amount of hours against those projects. As a service-based business, this timesheeting is crucial. It’s very easy for us to say to a client how much time we’ve spent or where we are at with a project without having to go through a big process to work it out.

Thanks Emma! If you’re running a company using WorkflowMax and want to talk workflow with us, then drop me an email at monica.shepherd@xero.com and we can interview you for User Stories.

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Monica Shepherd
Monica is a marketing copywriter for WorkflowMax, creating content for the website, blogs and ebooks. Having run a copywriting business helping a wide range of businesses create stand-out marketing and website content, she has a thorough understanding of the challenges business owners face. By sharing this insight at WorkflowMax she can continue to follow her passion for helping small businesses punch above their weight.

Monica Shepherd