BurnsGroup burst onto the New York advertising agency scene in 2006 with a mission to “transform brands into a category of one.” The company has seen a surge in demand for its marketing services since then, building new brands from scratch and pointing established ones such as YellowTail Wines, Columbia Business School, and Pfizer in a new direction. Like any marketing services agency, BurnsGroup is crammed with experienced, highly strategic, creative thinkers. These are the kind of people who have relentless pride in their craft and want to deliver the best possible creative output — even if it means working longer than anticipated to complete it. But in the midst of this craziness, they enjoy filling in their timesheets about as much as riding the New York subway at rush hour.
Monitoring time and resources became a growing challenge for the company’s HR managers, executive team, and project managers, who needed their on-the-go employees to maintain a complete, accurate, and timely record of how many hours they work, plus the increased number of projects and clients they work on. “We can’t waste valuable hours or overcharge our clients relative to the project,” explains Ann Morton, Executive Account Director, BurnsGroup. “Prior to introducing Replicon, time tracking used to be a shot in the dark. Our CFO had to chase people down and make a leap of faith that what she was getting was accurate. The agency’s reliance on manual time tracking processes made it very difficult for management to keep a pulse on the run rate of a given project at all times.”
Another time tracking challenge is that each member of the team records their project time differently, depending on their role or the task at hand. An art director, for example, has one charge-out rate for conceptualizing a new campaign, while a freelance resource — often brought in to supplement BurnsGroup’s own staff — is carried at a different net rate. To help cope with their exponential growth, the agency needed a simple and straightforward mechanism to record, allocate, and bill their time.
BurnsGroup needed a scalable solution to efficiently track project time anytime, anywhere: one that was as easy-to-use as it was to deploy. The solution also had to manage the different billable staff rates, depending on the role and the type of work. Morton implemented a Replicon solution at her past two employers with great success, which made her a staunch advocate of the technology. “I ran a consultancy that helped smaller shops implement operational best practices, with resource optimization front and center of my offering,” she says. “Replicon was part of my recommended ‘tool kit,’ and every client I introduced to the platform was amazed at the value for money and ease of use.”
BurnsGroup now uses Replicon to gain rich, real-time insight into the time staff spends on projects and other tasks, and to automate time off tracking and enforcement so that it’s simple for staff to appropriately comply with internal policies. The best-in-class solution for project time capture provides employees with easy-to-use timesheets so they can detail how many hours they work, which clients they serve, and the type of work they are doing based on pre-configured increments of time. That busy art director, for example, now simply logs onto Replicon — through a browser or on his or her mobile device — and records the number of hours devoted to approving client artwork or briefing a studio photographer, while Replicon does the rest.
"Replicon redefines and revolutionizes the way BurnsGroup tracks project time, which is increasing our profitability. Managing resources so we can scale profitability is paramount and Replicon helps us closely manage project time, account servicing, and agency profitability. We couldn't be happier with the product. It has changed everything for us."
By tracking individual employee hours, different charge-out rates, and real-time progress against projects, BurnsGroup has significantly greater visibility into how projects are run and budgeted. The company uses this information to evaluate the profitability of individual clients, plan and allocate resources, and forecast future business growth. It also has enabled the company to flexibly re-allocate resources on the fly in real time in response to client needs.
BurnsGroup is able to identify how much time is spent performing client-facing tasks, such as creative brainstorming and production, and how much time is spent on non-billable work, like new business pitches or internal staff meetings. When a new project arrives, the firm can better estimate the resources and time required, and charge clients appropriately. Moreover, Replicon can help identify seasonal fluctuations in workload and determine when freelance staff should be hired.
Replicon enables BurnsGroup to capture all staff time accurately and in a timely manner. This ensures that clients are charged according to the work completed, and that any under- or over-servicing of clients can be immediately addressed.