Implementing the right digital infrastructure is one of the less glamorous parts of managing a business, but it’s critical to the organisation’s success. And if your IT agency has remote or hybrid workers too, having the right systems in place is even more vital. 

You might have the perfect team, but if they don’t have the right tools to collaborate, share knowledge, track progress, monitor cash flow, and manage their work—the agency ultimately suffers. 

The “right” digital infrastructure depends on your business and its specific needs. It could be a mix of different tools and systems, or a unified business management suite that manages your core business functions, supported by complementary tools. For growing teams, choosing a unified business management software can help you manage costs, consolidate business data, and optimise processes and operations for scaling. 

Let’s quickly review the core business functions to better understand how business management software transforms the way your IT agency operates. 

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5 Essential business functions of IT agencies

Here’s an overview of an IT agency’s core business functions.

1. Project and task management 

For IT agencies, project management has a two-fold purpose; it not only helps teams manage their work internally, but it’s also essential for keeping clients in the loop. For example, consider a software development project, where you might need to loop the client in at different stages of the development lifecycle for approvals and feedback.

As far as internal work goes, there are several aspects of project and task management, including defining and managing budgets, measuring and maximizing profitability, setting milestones, creating work orders, and automating repetitive tasks and processes. 

2. Time tracking

Just like project management, time tracking is important for both the client and your own team. It helps project leaders measure productivity, accurately calculate billable hours, and consequently determine which projects are more profitable than others. 

To better appreciate just how important time tracking is for businesses, one study found that over 50 million hours spent on emails are never recorded. Around 40% of survey respondents don’t track the time they spend reading and replying to emails, and only a third tracks this time “often or always.” 

Emails aren’t the only kind of work that your team may be lax in logging, which is why time tracking is essential for ensuring your agency is properly paid for all billable work. It’s important to make sure your team members know what work is billable, and that they have the systems in place to track it. 

3. Client management

Client management is necessary throughout the customer’s entire lifecycle, from when you first engage them as a lead till long after you’ve won their business and are delivering consistent services and support. Some of the routine tasks IT agencies manage include:

  • Managing business enquiries, including understanding potential clients’ needs and determining if your agency is the right fit for them.
  • Client onboarding. This may involve bringing their team onto your client portal (which may be part of your business management suite), giving them necessary permissions on relevant platforms, connecting them with team members, and outlining contract milestones. Onboarding also typically entails generating offers and contracts and sharing any necessary documentation.
  • Support.  Client support doesn’t just entail answering support requests and queries, but also proactively updating customers about status changes, getting necessary approvals, and collecting feedback. 
  • Retention, remarketing, and referral marketing. Delighting your customers and retaining their business is key to maintaining consistent cash flow. For small-to-medium sized agencies, retaining a major client’s business could make the difference between making payroll or not. 

    But beyond retaining your existing revenue, it’s also important to invest in generating new income. Your previous and existing clients can potentially help out here; you upsell new services to them and ask them to refer your business to others.

4. Cashflow and business economics

Cash flow is considered a company’s lifeblood, but many small businesses and entrepreneurs don’t take a holistic approach to cash flow management. One study found that a lack of understanding of cash flows or ineffective cash flow management contributed to the failure of SMEs over 80% of the time.

These figures are quite concerning—and it’s vital to avoid making these same mistakes that many small businesses do. It’s important to go beyond checking your income statement each month or looking out for any tax liability. This means:

  • Actively monitoring cash flow, i.e., tracking income and expenses (both planned and expected). Distinguishing between recurring and one-time payments and identifying expenses that will have a long-term impact helps you make more informed decisions. Incomes are typically tougher to predict than expenses, but it’s important to have a process in place for estimating them. 
  • Distinguishing between profit and earnings. Being “profitable” is an economic result that appears on your income statement at the end of the year, but it says little about whether your business is really making money. 

    Businesses of all sizes need to make payroll on time and pay any third parties or contractors, and it’s even more important for small businesses to focus on where—and when—the money is coming in.

    It can take time to collect money from customers, and similarly, a “cost” doesn’t necessarily mean an immediate expense (e.g., it could be a SaaS subscription billed annually). For small businesses in particular, it’s crucial to make sure you have enough money coming in to meet your expenses at present, or else the business could go bankrupt before you get a chance to see if it’s profitable at the year’s end.

💡 Learn how to strategically plan and manage cash flow in Caflou’s cash flow management academy.

5. Human resource management

How an organisation manages its people impacts every aspect of the business. Giving people the tools and support they need, for example, helps them succeed in delivery. Similarly, assigning clear responsibilities, empowering people to take accountability, and cultivating collaboration help teams mature and improve their productivity. And while the way your agency supports and handles its resources is very much a management decision, technology plays a key role in the execution. 

For example, you’ll need project-specific insights and employee productivity data to make sure the right people are working on the right projects. Similarly, your tech stack can drastically impact employee collaboration, especially for remote-first or hybrid teams. One study revealed that knowledge workers spend almost 3 hours a day searching for the information they need on broken collaboration tools.

So if your systems encourage knowledge sharing, give team members visibility into each other’s work, and provide teams with various ways to communicate, team collaboration and productivity improves. 

What should you look for in IT agency management software?

Software plays a key role in helping businesses manage and streamline core functions. For smaller agencies, in particular, having a digital infrastructure is necessary for scaling your operations. Here’s what to look for in IT agency management software:

1. Centralised business data

Centralising your business data is critical for several reasons–it becomes easier to store and access knowledge and protect sensitive data, and teams are better equipped to make data-driven decisions. For example, knowing the profitability of individual projects and the clients they’re linked to can help you prioritise customer retention efforts. You’ll also have more insights into your business’s economics, such as which projects your biggest expenses are linked to (and whether these projects bring in enough revenue to justify these costs).

Of course, unifying your business data in this way requires the right software. That’s why it’s important to find a solution that supports your core business functions—including HR, project management, cash flow and economics, and client management—and centralises the data linked to these functions in a single, unified platform.

2. End-to-end customer management

The right agency management software can help you manage leads, handle communication and correspondence, loop clients in for approvals, provide automatic project status updates, and answer support requests effectively. Using a CRM or a business management suite with a CRM module also consolidates customer data, making it easier to analyse and take necessary actions. 

For smaller agencies, in particular, it’s important to have a unified business platform with built-in automation to manage these tasks and processes. Otherwise, it becomes difficult to manage clients as you scale–support requests may not be adequately prioritised, some communications may get lost, and you might lose track of billable work. Thus, it’s unsurprising that over 90% of organisations with 10 or more employees use a CRM.

3. Project and task management capabilities

Business management suites make it easy to organize and manage your projects with core capabilities, including different project views, project milestones, task creation and assignment, and reporting. However, many systems offer value beyond these core features–for example, you track more granular insights, such as the progress of individual team members or the finances of different projects. 

It’s also critical to manage project budgets and track project profitability, to make sure your business is profitable and has healthy cash flow. One report that surveyed 160 agency leaders revealed that around 90% didn’t consider their projects profitable. There can be several reasons why projects aren’t profitable–e.g., underpricing services or cost overruns—so tracking profitability is also important for diagnosing these issues. 

4. Productivity tracking and resource management

Optimising productivity is a consideration for businesses of all sizes, but it’s especially relevant to the survival of smaller agencies. That’s because smaller organisations generally have to do more with less—this might mean fast delivery with relatively limited resources—so productivity losses can have compounding consequences and potentially fuel financial losses.

For these reasons, it’s important to choose a business management suite that lets you track productivity and effectively manage resources. These goals can be achieved through various product capabilities, such as employee productivity tracking and insights that help you optimise resource allocation (e.g., knowing the projects and accounts an employee has previously worked on and milestones they’ve achieved). 

5. Pricing plans that work for your business 

If you’re using multiple SaaS solutions to manage core business functions, you might have noticed how starkly pricing plans can vary. Platforms usually have several plans with different features and usage limits (e.g., number of projects or clients), and it's common for the pricing to depend on the number of user seats. Some tools also lock certain features behind different plans, or separate them as add-ons. 

All these nuances make it difficult to predict future costs as your agency scales, which is why using a unified agency management software makes financial sense for many SMEs. It’s particularly important to find a system with pricing that works for your agency’s current and long-term needs. For example, when your agency scales from 20 to 50 employees, or maybe from 50 to 100, what will the cost difference be? Forecasting how these costs will scale helps agencies manage their budgets accordingly.

6. Integrations

While a business management suite can fulfil many of your organisation’s core functions, your tech stack will still probably require additional tools. So in the interest of keeping your data centralised and systems connected, it’s a good practice to check that your business management suite integrates with the other tools in your stack. This doesn’t necessarily mean a direct API integration—integrations through a third-party app, such as Make or Zapier, also connect data across systems.

7. Workflow automation

One of the advantages of unifying your workflows on a single platform is the automation opportunities. When you have connected, rules-based, repetitive processes, workflow automation lets you automate mundane, freeing your team members to prioritise more specialised work. More than 70% of surveyed IT leaders credit automation for saving up to 10-50% of the time their team members previously spent on manual work. 

For small-to-medium sized agencies in particular, workflow automation can crucially make your business more competitive by helping you scale core operations. Smaller agencies usually don’t have many resources to manage functions such as HR, finance & accounting, and customer service. Thus, automating processes within these functions means small teams can do more with less.

Caflou – an all-in-one IT agency management software

Caflou’s all-in-one IT agency management software can transform how your organisation works. Here’s how.

Unified business management

Manage all your core business functions—including HR, projects, workflows, client relationships, and business economics in a single, centralised platform. Caflou connects data from these core functions to help you access more granular insights and make data-driven decisions. Get a holistic overview of your business and project economics, track productivity and progress in real time, and closely monitor client relationships.

Intuitive, customisable interface

While Caflou is tailored to the way small businesses operate, we understand the importance of making your business management suite “yours”. That’s why Caflou lets you personalise the platform to reflect how your team works—customise the top menu, add quick links, create custom modules on your dashboard, specify notifications, and more.

Transparent pricing plans

No hidden fees or separate add-ons. Caflou offers transparent, flexible pricing plans tailored to your needs. Just pick the plan that includes the features you’ll need and select the number of user seats. Caflou offers per-user discounts for larger teams; check out the pricing page to learn  exactly how much a subscription will cost your business.

Workflow automation capabilities

Create custom automated workflows with Caflou’s built-in workflow automation builder. Specify triggers, rules, and actions to automate repetitive tasks. For more advanced automation—such as cross-platform—leverage Caflou’s integration with Make, a leading no-code, third-party automation platform.

Powerful collaboration features

With Caflou, your entire agency’s work lives on a single platform, giving different teams visibility into each other’s work. Caflou makes it easy for teams to collaborate and communicate with various project views, tagging options, 1:1 meetings, messaging, and more. 
Ready to bring your IT agency onto a unified business management software? Get started with Caflou today.