Case Study — Advance Digital

KozhevnikovaThis month we’re interviewing Yulia Kozhevnikova from the Advance Digital advertising agency. Please tell us a little about your company. We are one of the leading web-advertising companies in Russia; when you look at the advertising volume of our clients on the web, we are in the top three. In the past two years, we have been actively developing the creative department – more specifically, ‘digital creative’: from banners to more unusual things such as projection, 3D, and so on. What in particular do you do? Do you specialize in any particular media, like the web or the print? Could you maybe tell us about some of your clients? How long have you been using Cerebro, and what kind of projects do you use it for? We’ve been using Cerebro for the past 6 months. We only work with the web, and my particular division is devoted to creative work for the web. As far as I know, out colleagues from the media department have also begun using Cerebro for their needs. At the moment, for example, we are developing a number of web-sites for one very large client, and we’re also working on a number of web-pages for a well-known perfume brand. These are the kinds of projects we use Cerebro for. We’re also always have a few smaller things happening: banners for ongoing advertising campaigns, things like that. Why did you decide to look for a project management system? Thanks to a client. It’s kind of a long story. Out holding (Gruppa ADV, – ed.) has its own management system, which is, unfortunately, ill-suited to the kind of work we do, although it can be useful to some for accounting purposes – time-tracking, etc. There’s no access for clients or freelancers. At first, out software engineers tried to systematize the work we do, but their approach is kind of different, and it was hard to explain their ideas to accounts. Then we won a bid for a contract with a large client, and one of the conditions was that we use a project management system. We chose Cerebro. I wish more of our clients had clients like that! 🙂 What do you do first when you open Cerbero? How do use it in your work, how do your employees use it? Personally, I never close it at all. One of out past sales directors taught us to never shut down the computer – so we never close our e-mail clients and never shut down computers. To this mantra I’ve added ‘never close Cerebro’. If I need to do something, I just switch over to its window and do it. We do everything in Cerebro – assign tasks to employees, pass files over to the client, discuss details with them, use it as an IM, and so on. Some clients even refuse to discuss anything unless it’s by phone or in Cerebro. And since you can’t always spend half an hour talking on the phone, it’s easier to just message them with what we’ve done and how. We send them mockups, JPG and PSD files, documents — everything. We are not using the statistics system, and haven’t got a good grasp on budgeting, but we don’t really need them at this stage. When did you realize that all employees are using Cerebro, and how hard was transition? Designers switched to Cerebro straight away, it’s very convenient for them, so they use it, and the software engineers are exactly the kind of people who would love it. Some people never made the switch, and I don’t they ever will. It’s the kind of creative people who aren’t necessarily good with new tech. For example, copyrighters are used to writing copy, so it’s hard for them that they need to open some app, send some kind of ‘Review’ or ‘Report’… In the end, we realized they don’t really need it and stopped trying to force it on them, since their work is different. Especially given that they never talk to the client. How long did it take to integrate the system into your workflow? I think it took us about a week to get comfortable. The client spent, maybe, a month asking questions, worrying that they deleted something they should not have or that they couldn’t do something they wanted to. Also, at first I used to give them administrator status and then take it away all the time, and they couldn’t understand why yesterday they could assign tasks, and now they can’t. But we got the hang of it quickly, that the business we’re in – you have to be quick on the uptake, or you get left behind. If you had to choose a project management system for an advertising agency that had never used one before, what criteria would you look at? We focused on usability, how easy it is to work with the system. Everyone uses it, so, as I’ve mentioned, people in accounts have to understand how the system works, too – after all, we are not software engineers, we are simple users. We also tested the system on the client, whether it suits them or not. Plus, we had to consider whether we could introduce the system from a technical point of view – so the first people to ask were IT-administrators and programmers, since it’s an important issue. And what about the specific features – if you worked with media other than the web, would Cerebro fit your needs? I think that it’s a very convenient system for an advertising agency (especially once you get the hang of reports…). And it’s very convenient that you can open it to freelancers. It’s a great system for all kinds of graphic design and Client Service, as well. So, I think, it would work great for video-production and print design, too, not just the web. What size of files do you usually upload to Cerebro? It varies. I once had to upload something like 800 MB… But mostly they are under 200 MB or so. Do you use the drawing function or audio comments? Yes, we do – both text and audio, if we can’t be bothered to draw and it’s easier to just talk. Not everyone, though, has a headset – although we’ve bought a few for this particular purpose, so that problem is no longer there. Drawing is convenient, too, of course, as some our clients used to do this in MS Power Point, which means we had to spend more time on it. Now they just ‘scribble’ in Cerebro. 🙂 What do you think is missing in terms of drawing? I think everything is in place, I don’t see any weak spots. How many clients have you managed to convince to switch to Cerebro? For now, only the two largest ones: one for the media department and one for us. There’s also another client, whose tasks are managed in Cerebro, but who doesn’t have access to it. That is, we work on several projects there, but only two of the clients have access. What would you improve, add, or change in Cerebro?

One small niggle is that you can’t have a text message notification when a comment is added.

As I see it, the system isn’t well suited to things like generating reports. I don’t mean accounting for internal needs, but rather things like invoicing where you can summarize costs, man-hours, and so on.

And in our industry, it would be ideal if you could not only transfer Flash files, but also comment on them, like with video. This is the kind of thing we need 🙂 And, finally, a major gap is user role customization. At the moment, some of our clients can see, for example, the time spent on their tasks, even though they don’t need that information. That’s because we have to give them the ‘Supervisor’ role, where they can assign tasks to us, instead of the ‘Client’ role.   Yes, we know about this and we are working on customizable access rights (with user presets), where the client can assign tasks in one part of the projects, but wouldn’t see some things like budgets and hours. Yes, that would be great! Thank you very much for your time.