The Best And Worst Of Agency Timesheets

ByForest Midden

Jun 3, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 Founder and Global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Nick Hand, the commercially savvy, hands-on agency Finance Director, returns to Managing Marketing to discuss the best and the worse of timesheets. While bemoaned by agency staff, particularly the creative department, they have been an essential tool of the finance department, particularly as the agency fees are still largely based on recovering time and costs. But a new artificial intelligence platform, Tribes.AI is promising to solve all of this and increase agency revenue. Nick shares his experience and thoughts on this latest innovation.

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Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing, a weekly podcast, where we discuss the issues and opportunities facing marketing, media and advertising with industry thought leaders and practitioners.

Today, I’m sitting down again, with the commercially savvy, hands-on agency, finance director, Nick Hand, to discuss the best and the worst of timesheets. Welcome back, Nick.

Nick:

Thank you, Darren. Good to be back.

Darren:

Well look, the reason for wanting to discuss time sheets is this press release landed in my inbox. I was going to say crossed my desk, but that is actually not true. Landed on the inbox, which said inaccurate timesheets cost the economy $9.1 billion a day. That’s a real headline stopper, isn’t it?

Nick:

It’s a big number. I’m looking forward to unpicking this.

Darren:

Well, and so, I started thinking about it because I’m sure from your experience, timesheets in advertising agencies really are the bane of everyone’s existence, aren’t they?

Nick:

They are. Particularly, in a creative industry where you’re asking people that aren’t necessarily the most organized individuals in the world to make sure that they’re accounting for every 30 or 60 minutes that they work on a timesheet, in a system that does tend to present its own share of problems.

Darren:

Yeah. Well, and as you say, 30 and 60 minutes, not 10 and 15 minutes that you might see in a law firm or an accounting firm, right?

Nick:

Which always makes me laugh because there’s no such thing as a six-minute job or a 10-minute job. Everything takes at least 30 minutes. But we’ll let the legal firms have that.

Darren:

I just remember as a creative in agencies, every week, there’d be some poor accounts person rushing around the creative department saying, “Where’s your time sheets, where’s your time sheets?” and everyone will go, “Yeah, I’ll get to it, I’ll get to it.” But never did.

Nick:

Yeah. Nothing’s changed.

Darren:

From a finance point of view and a management point of view, what is the purpose of time sheets? When creative people especially don’t want to do it, what is the purpose?

Nick:

Well, beyond the obvious of a method to invoice a client for goods and services, it’s a management tool for the agency leaders to work out where the productivity lies. So, who’s doing the work? Who’s doing the work that we can potentially bill a client? How much of it are they doing? Do we have enough of those people in the right seats to be doing the work?

So, it is really useful from that perspective for agency MDs and CEOs and operational people to be able to make sure that they’ve got the right resources to be doing the right tasks for the clients and the briefs that they’ve got.

Darren:

Yeah, because it’s probably something that a lot of people in advertising don’t think about.

Nick:

No.

Darren:

There is absolutely a need to manage the resources available. It’s not like agencies run with a large number of resources just on standby, do they?

Nick:

No, and unfortunately, I think a lot of clients think that there are people sitting around, twiddling their thumbs waiting for a brief to come in and then get engaged on that. That’s not the case at all. There’s always, in any business, demand for scarce resources and that’s the same in an agency. And management needs to know, well, what are the people that we need for the tasks that we’ve got coming up?

And the time sheets are critical to helping manage that process. If we don’t know what people are doing and who the productive people are, then it’s very difficult to make sure you’ve got the right workforce in place at the right time.

Darren:

Because time sheets also have to be done by people that are not billable, the non-billables, which include finance directors, doesn’t it?

Nick:

Yeah.

Darren:

And the accounts people, the receptionist, the EAs. There are actually quite a few people, probably fewer these days with technology, but there’s still a significant number of people inside a creative agency that are not actually billed to the client.

Nick:

Yeah, absolutely. And you need to know what tasks people are working on. Even as you say, in the back-office functions, to know if you’ve got the right people doing the right things at the right time.

Darren:

Yeah. And I remember as a creative, creative people especially were really annoyed because the average creative person could be working on 3, 4, 10 clients depending on the agency, but they’d be inclined to be really annoyed with the account people. Not finance people, the account management people; because if they were 100% dedicated to a client, they’d just put down on their time sheets, eight hours a day, eight hours a day which is actually not the purpose, is it?

Nick:

No, if someone feels as though they need to be working 12 or 13 hours a day, agency management needs to know that because obviously, someone’s either inefficient or we don’t have enough people working on that function. So, as I said at the outset, it’s a very valuable tool to know who’s doing what and where we need to be scheduling the people that we have.

Darren:

Yeah. But your point before, which is timesheets are basically seen as a way of billing clients, aren’t they?

Nick:

Primarily, that’s how it was introduced, yes. And there are, as we know, numerous ways that you can charge a client for advertising services, timesheet seems to be the most popular. And I can understand why it’s the most popular, it’s easy to understand. A lot of marketers and clients understand it. They work hard and they get paid effectively by the hour for the job that they do.

So, they know what they get paid, and the value of an hour. So, when they see an agency rate card or they see an agency quote with their agency people working how many ever hours on a retainer or on a project, they can understand, okay I sort of get why that task takes as long as it does because I understand how much work’s involved.

So, it’s popular because it’s easy to manage or easy to understand from the client’s perspective. It’s easy to compare if you’ve got a number of agencies on your roster effectively all doing the same thing, you can compare from one agency to the other: what is an hour’s worth for a creative director from agency B versus agency A.

And also, it’s relatively easy to manage and anyone can sort of pick it up and intuitively know that a quote has five hours at $100 an hour, then that’s the bill that I should be getting. So, there are a number of things going for it, but it’s not necessarily the optimum way for a client to pay their agencies.

Darren:

It’s a unit of service, isn’t it?

Nick:

Yeah.

Darren:

And yet, not necessarily a unit of productivity.

Nick:

Correct.

Darren:

Because what you’re actually paying for is an hour of that person’s time, whether they actually produce something of value or not — they could be sitting in a meeting for an hour.

And I always remember a client saying to me, their biggest complaint was that every time they called the agency, six people would turn up for the meeting and only two of them would talk, and perhaps one would take notes. And they were wondering why they were paying for the other two, which does diminish the overall value, doesn’t it? Because it’s very cost-focused. It’s about the cost of those people’s time for that one-hour meeting.

Nick:

Correct. And particularly, in something as subjective as creative agencies’ output, you’re not considering the value of what the agency people are doing to the client’s business. All it is is just accounting for the time that they spend doing it, not necessarily what the output is or more importantly, what the value of that output is to that client’s business over time.

Darren:

It’s funny that it’s so popular. You sort of touched on and explained why, because it’s easy to understand. If I pay for an hour of Nick Hand’s time, and it’s so much an hour, I can assess whether I see that as a fair price. I’m not going to say value, but a fair price, because in some ways, that’s what we’re talking about.

But the thing that is missing from it is really, how many hours should a particular task take. And so, not just in advertising, but I know clients who find their lawyers seem to take much more time than they expect, accountants take a lot more time than they expect. And the same for advertising: when the agency puts down a quote for 150 hours, it’s “Why does it take that much time?”

There can be a disconnect between the proposed number of hours and the perception of the requirement of the task, can’t there?

Nick:

Oh, absolutely. And I understand where that comes from because when you’re looking at the quote, that’s front and centre of what you’re reading. You’re not actually thinking necessarily well, what was the brief and what was the purpose of briefing the agency in the first place? What do we hope to get as the output from the agency to answer that brief — and again, I’ll bring it back to what is that going to do for our business in time?

You’re simply looking at “Geez, that’s a lot of money.” As you say, 150 hours at whatever the hourly rate is, I’m not quite sure what that person’s going to be doing or what those people are going to be doing without thinking of what the end goal is. You’re always looking at the immediacy of what’s in front of you.

Darren:

I think in some ways, the sort of commoditization of advertising compared to accounting firms and legal firms because you can get lawyers cheaper, but you move down the strata of law firms, from the big end of town to the local suburban lawyer, or from the big accounting firm down to the local suburban accountant.

Whereas, I don’t think marketers or advertisers or procurement see that there’s a substantial difference in what’s being done. Do you think that’s fair or am I being too harsh?

Nick:

No, I think that is fair to a certain extent because certainly, in the legal and accounting profession, there are lots of, as you say, commoditized tasks that can be done. If you’ve got to fill in an application for a tax rebate, then it’s pretty clear that that takes a certain amount of time to fill in the form that the government asks to be completed.

And because it’s a mechanical process, there really shouldn’t be too much difference between legal firm A and legal firm B, and perhaps similarly completing a tax return that’s quite simple, there shouldn’t be much difference between accounting firm A and accounting firm B.

Where the different tier is, particularly in the legal sector that you are referring to, is when you need some specific advice about a particularly prickly legal matter.

Darren:

Or risk mitigation.

Nick:

Or risk mitigation. Generally, you’re going to go to the practitioner that’s got the runs on the board in that particular field and given the potential penalties, if you don’t get the right result, you’re probably prepared to pay more for the right practitioner to manage that case.

And so, therefore, it’s a lot easier for the purchaser to see the value in going for the high-profile lawyer rather than the local suburban lawyer. I think it’s a lot harder to do that in advertising and particularly, in the creative agency space, because you are dealing with something that’s subjective.

In your legal example, you’re guilty or you’re not, or even if you’re guilty, there are degrees of what the penalty’s going to be. And it’s very easy to understand how a certain lawyer might be able to reduce the penalty or get you off entirely.

It’s a lot harder to see the outcome from creative agency A, and creative agency B being any different, unless you’ve got a particular affinity with the people that are the principals in those agencies, they’re going to be doing the work. And potentially, they’ve got the runs on the board with other clients and other campaigns already.

It’s very difficult to see how one’s going to be different from the other. There are different approaches to it, and certainly, if it’s a pitch situation, you’re going to get 9 times out 10, two completely different approaches. One may be that you can’t necessarily differentiate what’s right or wrong, they’re just different.

But ultimately, one will work. Maybe the other one will work as well. You don’t know that at the time. So, it’s very difficult to ascribe a higher value to one agency over another because you’re not necessarily sure what the result’s going to be.

Darren:

The other thing, when you said that, when you mentioned the pitch, is that it seems that in law and accounting, people are not as quick to change firms as they appear to be with agencies. I think the latest number is that tenure for agencies is three to four years.

Whereas I’m sure if we look at the big accounting firms and law firms, they probably hold their clients for a lot longer. And that perhaps that’s a function of people feeling like they’ve gone to an expert, whereas, everyone feels that they understand advertising could be one of the functions that are happening there. But for all of this, of clients feeling like agencies put too many hours, it’s interesting, because there’s only really been a couple of big cases of time sheet fraud in the advertising industry.

The one that stands out (and it’s more than 15 years ago) was the famous Ogilvy versus the U.S. government where the agency or two of the staff members were actually convicted in the U.S. of timesheet fraud for let’s say, enhancing the time sheets to justify the fees being judged. But beyond that, it doesn’t seem to be as widespread as people would make out.

Nick:

No, I don’t think it is. I would say that there’s probably nonintentional misstatement of time sheets because the longer you leave filling in your time sheet, the less accurate you’re likely to be. So, I think there’s plenty of that going on, but I don’t think that you’ll find too many incidents of people manipulating time sheets to get a bigger result because usually, most agencies end up reporting more hours on their clients than they’ve actually quoted and billed for. So, I think that’s a rare occurrence and certainly not the norm.

Darren:

So, from your experience, do you think agencies are more likely to be underreporting the time actually taken or overreporting?

Nick:

My experience is that they’re overreporting. They’re doing more hours than they’re actually getting paid for. And I think that’s really to do with the negotiation at the point of setting the contract in place or the retainer or the project fee or whatever the case is.

There are commercial competitive pressures to quote a price that is going to be palatable to the client. And I think in most instances, that’s under what the agency would actually like to charge.

Darren:

So, on that basis, this press release from Tribes.AI, said they’ve looked at missing or inaccurate timesheets has been estimated to be costing businesses $50,850 U.S. per employee per day. What do you think about that?

Nick:

Well, I would say that that’s then on top of the time that they were actually already recording. So, if they were recording more hours than they can actually bill a client, it would not surprise me if there are inaccuracies that go to that extent.

Darren:

Yeah. They’re saying an average of 21.5% of the billable time is being missed because of traditional timesheet mechanisms.

Nick:

Yeah, I believe that. I think very rarely do you get an employee in an agency that diligently records their time every 30 minutes or every time. I know some of the art workers used to do it because they’ve had so many jobs cross their desks over the course of the day, that if they don’t keep a running tally of what they’re doing, they’ll never keep track of it.

But generally, they’re the outliers. And most people are doing their timesheets once a week, maybe once every two weeks. In some cases, once a month, if you’re lucky. And your ability to go back and remember with any degree of accuracy, what you’ve done in those instances is very difficult.

Darren:

You’re absolutely right. And particularly, in the creative industries, I don’t just mean the creative department. But the number of casual conversations that happen throughout the day that never hit a time sheet system must be phenomenal. I know from my own experience, passing in the hallway and suddenly, a 5/10-minute conversation around a particular project, that’s not going to appear on the time sheet.

Nick:

And I think the press release you’re referring to also had something in it about the email culture that we have. Once upon a time before emails, communication was a lot more formal. Someone called you, or there was a type-written memo that was delivered to you requesting something. So, you’d spend time reading that and thinking about your answer, and then you’d spend another 30 minutes formulating a reply. The current quick-fire, rapid communication of email.

Darren:

To everyone.

Nick:

Of email and the instances of chat apps and those sorts of things just makes that problem even worse, is that it’s so difficult to keep track of every aspect of correspondence or communication you’ve had with every single client or every single job. It’s a nightmare. I understand why these things are inaccurate because you just simply cannot in today’s fast-paced environment record absolutely everything that you’ve done. It’s impossible.

Darren:

Well, earlier today, I was having a conversation with an agency and the account director was very happy because they’d got their inbox down from 300 emails to 10, and felt that that was a huge achievement. And I turned around and I said, “Let me just check. Oh yeah, I’ve got just under 11,000 emails, but they do go back to 2011.” So, if there’s anyone listening to this and I haven’t responded, it’ll be in that 11,000 somewhere.

Nick:

I’ll get to it soon, yeah.

Darren:

One day soon. But it’s interesting, isn’t it? That this company, Tribes.AI, have chosen to use technology and artificial intelligence to link all of the technology that surrounds us to actually then, track time sheet hours.

It’s an interesting concept because you can imagine if it’s your mobile phone, your email, your computer, your calendar, all of these things, it would start capturing a lot of time that would get missed on either the manual … I don’t think any agency uses the sort of clicker, do they? The time sheet clicker that you have to click every 10 minutes or 15 minutes.

Nick:

No, I think many have tried, but they gave up pretty quickly.

Darren:

Yeah. So, there is something in the idea, I’m just not sure whether it’s going to be 100% accurate.

Nick:

Look, I think anytime you can use technology to help solve a problem, you’re more than likely going to improve the accuracy. It’s not going to be 100% accurate. Absolutely not. The instance where the creative director and the strategy director get together in the corridor and sit down in an empty meeting room and talk about the brief that they’ve just received for a couple of hours on spec — that’s not going to show up in any email or show up in any calendar entry, so, that’s not going to get recorded.

So, you’re still relying on a manual entry to capture that time. But everything else that you’ve mentioned that potentially might otherwise, not end up in the time sheet, if that can be captured automatically by a piece of technology, I think that’s a step in the right direction. Absolutely.

Darren:

And it’s interesting because I think it’s three or four years ago, there was a study in Harvard Business Review that actually laid the lost productive time at the feet of the email system. And so, any system that can then at least capture the emails that you’ve sent and allocate those to a particular job or a particular client, has to be an improvement on just someone having to remember how long.

Though, I have to say … sorry, I just remembered, I do remember getting a lawyer’s bill and there was like 45 minutes for an email. And I went back and looked at it and it was about three sentences. I’m just not quite sure how they could spend 45 minutes writing me a three-sentence email, but that’s beside the point.

Nick:

I’m sure there’s many ways of justifying that, but yeah, let’s not go into that.

Darren:

I just paid it.

Nick:

Probably best.

Darren:

But so, let’s assume these numbers are right. Let’s assume that the average agency person is currently under recording their time sheets by, let’s says 21.5 on average, but let’s say 20%. That’s one day a week that they’re under-recording.

Nick:

Yep.

Darren:

So, what’s going to happen if suddenly, the agency is now identifying that extra day of work or week that they haven’t been billing previously.

Nick:

Well, the first thing they’ll probably try and do is go cap in hand with the client and say, “You’ve not been paying us enough. Here’s the time sheet data to prove it. We’d like to send you a bill for the additional charges.” That’s not a conversation that generally is going to go down particularly well after the fact.

Darren:

Well, particularly not when there’s a retainer in place, and there’s an agreement around that because there’s many, many clients will say, “Hang on, we agreed the retainer. You’ve got a manage overs and unders within reason.”

So, that is not a winning strategy. What’s it mean from the point of view of the finance director who’s finding themselves writing off time that should be billed, but can’t be recouped? What does that look like on your P&L or your balance sheet?

Nick:

Well, it’s frustration for a start, but what that will do is elicit conversations about why aren’t we billing this. The fact that we’ve not been capturing it, we’ve solved that problem now with the use of the technology. But why is it that we haven’t included this in our retainer discussions, why isn’t it that we haven’t this in our project quotations, and what do we need to do to fix that in the future?

Once you haven’t billed for it, it’s largely gone. Those conversations usually never go well, but what are we going to do in our business-

Darren:

Going forward.

Nick:

Operationally going forward to try and recoup that sort of money.

Darren:

And you said the key there for me “projects,” because we hear and we see the large number of clients that don’t want to be locked into retainers anymore, so they go to project fees. While the agency may know that they’re going well over the allocated amount in the agreed project, it means that when they’re quoting the next one, they will potentially be adding that 21.5% because they’ve now got more accurate data around the hours that it actually took.

Nick:

Yep.

Darren:

So, potentially, we’re going to see an increase in fees, or at least an increase in the cost involved in the proposals.

Nick:

Well, we may see an increase in the quotation or the proposal, whether the client will accept that is a completely different question and it-

Darren:

Oh yeah, but Nick, now they’re going to have the outputs from this Tribes.AI that says “On our last three projects with you, this is what we quoted. This is what we actually did. This is why we’re putting that forward.” Everyone says they want more data. This is actually providing the data to support those cost positions.

Nick:

I think the issue there then is, well, what is that output actually worth? I appreciate that you’ve spent all these hours, all these inputs performing the work, but the output at the end of the process, how much is that actually worth to the client, that’s the issue.

And there’s potentially two questions there that need to be answered. So, what are other clients paying for a similar set of outputs?

Darren:

Yep.

Nick:

And also, getting back to something I’ve said earlier, what’s the value to the client of that particular set of outputs. It’s not necessarily going to equate with the amount of work that the agency’s invested in getting to that point. There’s got to be a value equation from the client’s perspective at the end of it.

Darren:

Yeah. And I completely understand that, except that the whole financial fee remuneration model that’s based on hours and time is not about value. It’s about cost, and I have this argument all the time. At TrinityP3, we put a fixed cost forward. Here’s the scope of the project, here’s the deliverables. This is what it looks like, and here’s the fee. And I still get the question, “Well, how much is that per hour?”

And the answer is, well, if it takes me one hour, it’s the whole fee per hour. If it takes me a thousand hours, it’s the fee divided by a thousand, and that’s the hourly rate. Because you’ve set this up as a cost. I know emotionally they’ll start comparing it to what they can buy elsewhere, but is that value? No, that’s just competitive pricing. It only becomes a value equation when they look at it in the context of the value that it delivers to them, not the comparative price with other agencies.

Nick:

Yeah, absolutely. And I also think these conversations generally go down well, provided that the agencies quote for time and materials, hours lands within the budget that the client’s got. If those two things marry up, then everyone’s happy. The issues start when the agency’s asking for more money than the client’s prepared to spend.

Now, whether that is truly a budget constraint, or all the money that the finance department has given me to play with, or the value conversation they’ve already considered and they don’t believe that particular campaign or that particular project is worth more than the budget that they’ve quoted to the agency to respond on.

That’s where the problems lie. The agency can say, “Well, yes, but you’re paying us (to your argument) on a time and materials basis — this is the amount of time it takes.” That only works when that aligns with the budget that the client’s actually got.

Darren:

Of course. And they’ve set the budget either on a top-down model, which is this is my total budget and I’ve divided it by the number of projects or things I need to do, or a bottom-up model, which is this is what I need to achieve. This is the value of achieving those things. And so, now, I’ll invest in them on that basis.

And I would say the vast majority of marketers and agencies work on a top-down. Budgets are set by, what did we spend last year, can I get more or less? But I’ve still got the same scope of work. So, if I get less, I’m dividing a smaller pie amongst the number of things. So, now, I’ve got to shop around for a lower price.

None of this has got to do with the amount of time and the cost it takes. All that does is eventually, they get a budget and then turn around and say to the agency, “Well, can you do it for this price,” and the agency says, “No, because it takes 20, 30% more time to do that task for you.”

Nick:

Yeah, and this is getting back to what we’re talking about before. My experience is that agencies are constantly over-recording the hours that they’re able to build and always undercharging based on those time sheets. And then the report that we’ve got says that there’s another 20%, again, that’s not being recorded at all. Well, that’s great. Now, what was it, $50,000 a person, per year?

Darren:

51,000 approximately U.S., and that’s across U.S., UK, and Australia.

Nick:

And that’s all well and good, but is a client actually going to pay for that extra 21.5%? That’s the question. It’s great to say, well, the productivity is down by this, but who’s going to pay for that?

And I think in the current climate, you’re not going to get too many clients that will agree to “Oh, you’ve underbilled me by 20%.” “Sure.” “Well, here’s a check for the $50,000 per person per year to make up for that.” That’s not an easy conversation.

Darren:

No, you’re right. Do you think it’s a valuable tool to have more accurate time sheets for the business? Should the agency be worried that they’re actually capturing the right level rather than relying on the short-term memory of their staff to fill it in once a fortnight or once a week?

Nick:

Yeah, I think it’s a valuable tool for that. And going back to what we were talking at the outset — as a management tool for the business to understand exactly what tasks their people are doing and in what quantities to ensure that they’ve got the right people doing the right jobs. Whether you can actually invoice for it down the track, that’s a separate issue.

But at the end of the day, there’s still projects to be delivered and tasks to be done. Do we have the right people doing the right jobs and the right quantities to be able to deliver what our clients are asking? And something like this, I think is a fabulous tool to help provide information to do that.

Darren:

It would also be useful to start to identify where productivity’s being lost. Whether it has the capabilities to see why three emails were sent or why eight meetings were called rather than just done in one and a phone call and things like that.

If you could get to that level with drilling down into this data, it could become incredibly valuable as a way of making an industry that traditionally has not thought about productivity to start thinking about ways of being more productive.

Nick:

I think one of the biggest issues I faced in the agencies I worked in was rework.

Darren:

Yeah.

Nick:

And ultimately, where does that responsibility lie? And quite often, despite the protestations of the agencies, it lies with them because they just didn’t do it right, they didn’t read the brief, glossed over the pertinent facts and didn’t quite nail what they should have nailed and had to go back and redo it.

I suspect that technology such as this might help with that analysis to determine, “Okay, well, we know we messed up. Where did we mess up? Why did we not answer the brief and have to go back and do this job twice when we’re only getting paid once?” Those sorts of things I think would be very useful.

Darren:

I remember sitting in my office when I was a creative director and observing the people in the agency, running around and around, being incredibly busy, but realizing that in many ways, they were doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome. That tasks were done in this sort of cyclical approach, whether it’s rework or re-briefing or whatever, when it seemed that just less haste would have less waste, is the same.

Because invariably, what limits an agency is either time or budget. The two very things that we measure as a way of the cost of the work that the agency does. You keep doing it until you run out of time or you run out of budget. One of those two things is going to stop this constant approach.

And I remember talking to a CMO and they go, “Oh no, but that’s the only way you can make sure you get the best results because you just keep doing it and doing it, refining it.” And I think that would be true if it was a refinement, but I think what actually ends up happening is you just rethink, rethink, rethink. It’s not necessarily resulting in a better product. It inspired me to start TrinityP3, so-

Nick:

There’s an interesting story, I don’t know if it’s true or not, and I don’t even remember where I heard it. But of some French artist who had his work displayed in the Louvre, and they literally had to ban him from the museum because he would come in with his paint brush and his boxes and he’d step over the little rope that separated-

Darren:

And constantly-

Nick:

And constantly improve it. At some point, you’ve got to say-

Darren:

Draw the line.

Nick:

This is good enough and moves on to the next thing. So, I think that illustrates what you’ve just been talking about, that it is never going to be absolutely perfect. Let’s get it to the point where it answers the brief and is going to solve the marketing problem of the client. Surely. that’s got to be good enough.

Darren:

Okay, Nick. So, an AI solution to agency timesheets, yay or nay?

Nick:

Oh, I think yes. As I said, anything that technology-wise, it’s going to provide better information to both the agencies and their clients can only be helpful.

Darren:

With caution, don’t think about necessarily what will lead to charging your client 21.5% more.

Nick:

No, I think it’s going to be more, you’d be able to organize yourself as the agency better internally by having better information about who’s doing what.

Darren:

Well, that press release was from Tribes.AI, so it’ll be interesting to see how that goes. Nick, it’s been great as always having this conversation. Thank you for coming by and having a chat on Managing Marketing.

Nick:

Oh, you’re welcome. Thank you for having me.

Darren:

Actually, look before you do go, in your experience, which particular area of the agency was always best at doing their timesheets on time?

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