In this day and age many agencies have team members who work remotely, even more so since the COVID-19 pandemic. This has always had its own set of challenges when managing a team and these challenges are increased with different time zones.
The other factor that many agencies struggle to deal with is handling freelancers that only come on board for a job here and there, finding the right freelancers that you can rely on is the holy grail in production management. Managing your team and your time, so you can delvier the work on time to clients is the daily strugle of any agency.
Below are my 5 tips for overcoming these challenges:
1. Know your deadlines but don't always tell your team
I know this sounds crazy, but hear me out, if a client is expecting a website back on the 17th of July DO NOT tell your web developer that the website is due on the 17th of July, tell them it’s due on the 13th of July, this gives you time to review the site and make changes before it’s due to the client. If you are dealing with a new freelancer that you may not have worked with before, then make the due date even earlier because there WILL be changes.
2. Always be available to your team
Communication from you to your team is critical to be able to meet deadlines and produce high-quality work, rarely is any project ever set and forget, it doesn’t matter how good your team is there will always be questions, and if you’re not getting questions from your team and the work isn’t coming back perfect every time then maybe look at how you are presenting yourself to your team and if you are making yourself available and approachable so they can ask you anything anytime.
3. If there is an app, download it!
What I mean is, whatever software you are using to communicate with your team, if there is a mobile app, download it. This is particularly true if you are dealing with freelancers in different time zones. You can lose days on a job just in back and forth communication if you aren’t available when they need you or visa versa. Being able to get a push notification to your phone when your team has questions can help you reply straight away and could save you a up to a day each time and help you meet your deadlines.
4. Set Payment Milestones
I always recommend creating payment milestones. NEVER pay for the work upfront, and most of the time even 50% upfront and 50% on completion isn’t great and doesn’t always work for your freelancers either, particularily if you are waiting a long time for your clients to get back to you with feedback and/or changes.
To keep your freelancers motivated I recommend creating 3 to 4 payment milestones, you can even front-load the first payment to try to encourage your freelancer too but in the effort up front. I often do 60% on the first review, 10% on second review, 10% on Delivery to the client and 20% after final approval. Obviously feel free to changes these to suit you but this often works to get the best results out of your freelancer and deliver the project on time.
5. The brief is king so become king of the brief
How you brief the job that you send to your team is what controls the quality and the speed of the work you get back. The more time you spend upfront on the brief and the more thought you put into it the less time you will spend answering questions or send work back for revisions because it’s not quite right.
If you can think like the team member and ask yourself If I had to do this job what do i need to know when you can really understand all the parts that go into a project you can start to make sure your brief has all the information anyone could ever need. Writing great briefs is an art form that you develop over time. All I can say is keep trying and keep refining you’ll get there.