“Ask for money. If not, you’re hurting yourself & the industry.”
Streamtime is project management software that we use here at Chapter. Sounds dull on paper; in reality it’s been a game changer. It helps us with scheduling, resourcing, quoting – the list goes on. But you’re not here to read an advert for Streamtime. This is a story of hauling archaic systems out of the dark ages, entirely ripping up business models and learning to say no to lucrative deals – straight from the horse’s mouth (aka Andy Wright, Streamtime’s Managing Director). I had the pleasure of chatting to him recently.
A few years ago, if anyone had said ‘imagine a world without timesheets’, you’d hear the collective sigh of relief that notion triggered. And yet, that’s exactly what Streamtime – with Andy Wright as MD – has achieved. Throwing timesheets out of the window, while supercharging how to keep track of time, Streamtime was once an app partner of Apple’s. ‘A big win’ in Andy’s own words, and not one that was sustainable as competitors soon followed suit and the app market became more saturated. But it’s testament to the trailblazing concept that’s propelled Streamtime to be a market leader in the project management software.
“Our concept was based on the fact that most project management software that you use at work is just ugly and soul-sucking, or it was back then,” Andy admits to me wryly. “A few years ago, you could do all these cool things on your phone – like banking and paying for things – then you get into work and you jump back into the 1980s and might as well be using my dot matrix printers. It just felt like some archaic age.”
Inefficiency of timesheets created the Eureka moment
Apart from the sheer inefficiency of timesheets, inaccuracy could also easily creep in. In big agencies there’s often the pressure to get the numbers right, but Andy and his colleagues could see that if employees were burning the midnight oil at their desks, that often was not reflected in the data. Andy even saw people jot down their hours on post-it notes and ask the studio manager to put them into a system. Or at other times, employees trying to ‘make the numbers tally up’ – this was all pointing to businesses making decisions based on inaccurate information. It was clear, then, that timesheets and ‘to-do lists’ needed to become one.
Andy tells me his team had a Eureka moment: “Maybe we can kill two birds with one stone and now you can have your to do list and Streamtime. You drag it from ‘to do’ to ‘done’ and the task is done, but also the time is tracked, and that time goes against the job. What we’ve already found is that the data is a whole lot more accurate because they’re accounting for pretty much everything simultaneously. Here’s the thing: the quicker the better, the closer the proximity to when you’re doing it, the more accurate you’re going to get. Then everybody can make better decisions as a result.”
Andy’s business philosophy: saying “no to free pitches” and “ask for money”
Before joining Streamtime, Andy had a big decision to make himself. Then at ‘For the People’ – a design and strategy agency that he had founded – he was intent on shaking up the industry and doing something a ‘little bit different’. True to that pledge, the business won ‘Agency of the Year’ a couple of times, with accolades and awards to boot. Interestingly – and bravely – they had a collective belief in saying no to free pitches – often winning jobs because of it, or turning away lucrative clients if they weren’t the right fit.
“Ask for money. I know that sounds really, really basic, but too often people don’t ask for money. What you’re doing is worth something and it’s perfectly fine for you to ask to be paid for it. Don’t do something just to get your foot in the door. Don’t do something just to get exposure. You’re not only hurting yourself you’re actually hurting the rest of the industry because you just conditioned that client that they can get something for free.”
Product before branding
But Streamtime was the right fit, and became a valued client of ‘For the People’. Over time, the seeds were sown for Andy to pursue pastures new at the software company – moving from agency to client-side. He brought a wealth of branding experience with him. And yet, he is a firm believer in the product always coming first.
“The brand, funnily enough, came afterwards,” Andy recalls to me. “It just came out of the product, and that’s the bit I kind of love. It’s how I’ve always wanted to create brands, where the product needs to come first, not the brand, you know? I spent years selling brands first, as many people may have done if you go for a big brand agency because obviously that’s what you’re selling. You’re selling brands. But if the two don’t match up, then it’s not going to work. So that’s why the product came first.”
Streatmtime 2.0 was born from ripping it all up and starting again
On Andy’s insistence, Streamtime didn’t look at the old product when they redesigned the original concept. Instead, with the knowledge of his own experience managing time as an agency, coupled with the desire to get rid of timesheets altogether, Streamtime 2.0 was born.
“Most tech companies will go through a curve and they’ll reach their peak. Then they’ll drop off and die. You can only really stop that ‘dropping off and die’ if you completely rip it all up and have another crack. And that’s pretty much what Streamline has done.”
It certainly has – and I, for own can vouch for the extraordinary efficiencies the tools have given the Chapter team.
Next up, in Part II of this blog series, Andy Wright opens up to me about his mental health and his pioneering and much needed movement, the ‘Mentally Healthy Change Group’- and its mission to smash stigmas and empower the creative, media and marketing industry. Stay tuned!