How did we ever scope using Excel?

A new concept today will become commonplace tomorrow. In five years’, time, you’ll look back and wonder how you ever managed without it. In this post we look at one of the last frontiers of the business process – the digital automation of scoping.

On my desk sat a blue box filled with contact cards. Every time I identified a potential lead, I would take out a new card, hand write the name of the company, the key contact, their phone number, email address and other qualifying notes and file it in the box in order of ‘hot’, ‘warm’ or ‘cold’ – highest priority leads nearest the front. Whenever I spoke to any of these leads, I would hand-write the details of each conversation and the date on the back of the appropriate card.

Every week, I would complete a spreadsheet known to us as the ‘30-60-90’ detailing all the deals I would close in the next 30, 60 and 90 days and submit it by email to my sales director by close of business on Friday afternoon.

CRM goes digital

In 2006, this was our manual CRM system. It was slow, disconnected and frankly, ridiculous. Who in their right mind would run any sales processes like that now? Back then, we didn’t realize there was any other way. We did what we knew and managed because we weren’t aware of an alternative. We didn’t know what we didn’t know.

Then along came digital CRMs. Sure, Goldmine had been around since 1990 but it was Salesforce that started to really normalize networked client databases, contact management and more crucially, pipeline management and real-time sales forecasting.

Salesforce was launched in 1999 and we adopted it around 2007, which goes to show how long it can take for mindsets and processes to shift towards new technology and innovations when old patterns and habits are long-established.

Now online tools are the norm

Finance and accounting have gone through its own version of this evolution with bookkeeping processes moving from paper to Excel to early accounting software like Sage and Netsuite and now in its status, cloud accounting tools like Xero. There’s not an accountant in the land who doesn’t log-ins to an online tool to manage every conceivable finance task.

In 2010 we were selling an agency workflow tool called Traffic. It evolved to become Traffic Live, but in its first incarnation it was a server-based FileMaker creation. I would cold call agencies and find that more often than not, creative teams were logging their timesheets (if they did timesheets at all) in Excel.

It’s not a case anymore of ‘do we need a timesheet tool’ but rather, ‘which one shall we choose?’

Fast forward 10 years and every agency have a workflow tool – indeed, there are new ones popping up all the time, so much has the market moved to make this a commodity business management tool. It’s not a case anymore of ‘do we need a timesheet tool’ but rather ‘which one shall we choose’.

The point I’m making is that there isn’t a single business process that isn’t managed digitally with a purpose-built online tool.

Except scoping.

So why is scoping still being done on spreadsheets?

If you had to go back to running manual processes for sales, finance, project management, HR, you’d be in a world of trouble. It’s hard to believe that we ever ran our businesses that way.

Why then, is it acceptable to manage your most important agency task with spreadsheets? Scoping is the process of deciding what you’re going to sell, how you’re going to describe it and how much you’re going to charge. It’s absolutely business critical and impacts financial performance more directly than anything else you do.

Without a system to standardize scoping, you risk error, inconsistency, inaccuracy and inefficiency – all of which will dent your financial performance.

Birth of a new standard for marketing services

If you had to explain the value and ROI you get from your other business automation tools I’m sure you could justify them in any number of ways; put simply though, they all help you to do a better job as efficiently as possible.

Much like the early days of Salesforce and Xero, we’re witnessing the birth of a new market-leading business automation standard. The final frontier of legacy manual processes is scoping. Change is coming and forward-thinking agencies have already taken the leap.

SCOPE was launched in 2015 and it’s the first and only data-driven scoping tool for agencies and brands. Digital scope management is a new concept and we can understand the hesitancy that comes with change. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know.

But we do know. We’re watching our clients benefit in real terms from transforming their scoping processes. Without going into the full ROI story, it helps them to do a better job as efficiently as possible – just like all their other business automation tools.

We’ve walked this path before, and we know where it goes. A new concept today will become commonplace tomorrow. In five years’, time, you’ll look back and wonder how you ever managed to scope using Excel.

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