Managing Multiple Clients: A Blueprint for Digital Agencies

As a project manager, it’s rare that you’ll ever be managing only one client.

If yes, it’ll probably be a big client, with one or multiple projects of high complexity. Plus, it will involve a timeline and project deliverables that won’t allow for much more.

Usually, as an account or project manager, you’ll be handling multiple clients, budgets, teammates, and stakeholders—and with that, managing a ton of people’s expectations. This article should serve as a blueprint when managing multiple clients.

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The Challenges of Managing Multiple Clients

Whether you’re just entering the world of project management or you’re a decade in, just learning the ropes or refining your processes—there will be some typical challenges when handling multiple clients. Those are:

  • Prioritization. Each client (and project) is unique, which means you need to assess which client’s needs come first.
  • Time management. Once you know which clients are priority, it’s time to allocate time to meet a project’s delivery.
  • Resource planning. One of the most difficult parts of managing client work is figuring out which resources you’ll need and continually refining your plan to keep everyone happy. Your teammates are your most valuable asset, so it’s important to make sure their workload is balanced.
  • Communication. Next, it’s time to determine how you will communicate project progress internally and with your clients. Choose channels for client requirements and make sure to avoid possible misunderstandings by communicating clearly.
  • Scope creep. What commonly occurs when working with clients is that they will have additional requests or expectations which will prolong the duration of work on a project. When you work with multiple clients, the likelihood of scope creep and the complexity of handling it becomes even more of a challenge. Don’t try to avoid scope creep. Rather than avoiding it, manage expectations by always allocating even up to 20% more time for delivering a project as buffer.
  • Differences in industries. If you don’t have experience working with or in a certain industry that’s now your client, you need to factor that in. Take some time to research and understand each new sector you encounter.
  • Legal issues. Last, but not least: always make sure that anything that goes into your contract with clients is understood by both parties. If working for various industries, ensure that your legal team has taken compliance requirements into account.

How To Manage Multiple Clients With a Project Management Tool

Managing multiple clients gets much simpler with good planning and the right project management tool. However, there are different methods and tactics out there for keeping all those projects in line. Below are some tested strategies that work.

1. Centralize Information for Your Team

First things first: to manage multiple clients, you need to centralize information. The more project information for client work is scattered, the more time you’ll need to spend gathering that information, and the harder it is to share that information.
Starting from a deal (whether it be an existing client or a new one), to sending out invoices for completed phases or projects — what’s important is to keep everything in one place.

Productive gives project managers and teammates a centralized view of multiple projects

2. Manage Tasks In One Place

Client work consists of tasks that need to be assigned to one or multiple teammates. When each project is divided into tasks, linked to its own budget, and your team can track time for related to each, you can automatically get all the data linked to project budget usage. By managing tasks in one place, you can quickly get updates on how each task is moving forward and ask for feedback by keeping everyone in the loop.

In Productive, you can also automate recurring tasks and use milestones to get more visual control over deadlines.

Watch our webinar “Streamline and Deliver Projects With Productive”.

3. Collaborate In Shared Docs

When it comes to managing multiple clients, information exchanged in tasks just isn’t enough, is it? That’s where Docs come in. In Productive’s Docs, you can:

  • Keep project specifications
  • Write meeting notes
  • Define project phases and steps
  • Craft a pitch or draft copy
  • Write design briefs
  • Create playbooks or handbooks

Besides using Docs to internally manage client work, you can also invite your clients to a specific Doc to collaborate and give feedback.

Productive gives account managers the option of inviting clients to Docs to collaborate

Productive gives account managers the option of inviting clients to Docs to collaborate
In Docs you can edit sharing permissions, meaning you can share with only one person, keep a Doc private, or link it to a Project and collaborate with your whole team. Last, but not least — you can use the AI tool within Docs to edit your texts in a variety of ways.

Find out more about documenting your project work with Productive Docs.

Before using Productive, we had less clarity and control over projects and time tracking. Our collaboration has improved a lot as well, which makes our jobs a lot more pleasant.

Karla Vincheva,
Head of Production AT Build in Amsterdam

Balancing resources working on projects for multiple clients is an art. Resource allocation is a part of project management that’s very much prone to change, sometimes even on a daily basis. In fact, when managing multiple clients, it’s essential to be able to check the scheduled work compared to the actual progress of tasks at any given moment.

This is why it’s key to have short daily syncs, or at least 2-3 times per week (depending on the size and type of project), to check the status on client work and edit resource allocation accordingly.

To learn more, read our article “Resource Planning for Multiple Projects: Best Practices for Efficient Multi-Project Management”, or watch our webinar “Resource Planning: Balancing Workloads With Productive”.

5. Check Profitability by Client or Project

It’s also important to be able to check your profitability by client or project, so you know how to handle the near future of your projects. In Productive, when your teammates are tracking time on a regular basis, you can check profitability reports in real time and zoom in on profitability per team, service, client, project, and more.

Other Useful Tips When Managing Multiple Clients

1. Plan for Risks

Every project comes with its own risks and problems, both in relation to your clients and to your team. When you’re handling many projects at once, these risks can become even bigger and affect each other.

That’s why it’s important to plan for these risks ahead of time. Leave some extra room when planning the details of your project. Typical risks that you can encounter when managing multiple clients are:

  • Overcommitment
  • Scope creep
  • Financial risks
  • Misinterpretations in communication
  • Resource strains
  • Legal challenges
  • Dependency on key stakeholders
  • Dependency on specific technologies
  • Teammates burning out

2. Set Clear Expectations

Being good at handling one project is different from managing many clients at once. If one project has problems, it can cause issues with the rest. Many outside and inside things can make it hard to finish work on time or do it well. Make sure to set clear and achievable goals and deadlines to keep clients happy. Tell your clients what you can actually do with the time and money you have.

3. Set and Follow a Routine

Having a set routine is very important for managing projects for different clients well. This habit helps manage changing needs of clients smoothly and keeps attention on the most important jobs. Make a daily or monthly plan with set times for different clients, projects, or tasks. Adjust your plan to use your best skills. Being consistent in how you work makes you dependable and easier for clients to reach, which improves how you manage projects.

4. Manage Boundaries

While juggling multiple clients, it is imperative to maintain a degree of separation between the various projects and project owners. Define clear boundaries to classify the tasks and responsibilities. Make sure you know which tasks belong to which client. This helps you pay attention to one client at a time avoid mix-ups or distractions. Keeping things separate helps you stay organized and prevents problems with the quality or timing of your work.

5. Encourage Time Blocking

Time blocking is setting aside certain times for each task or project. You work only on that task during its time slot. This can help you concentrate on one thing at a time and avoid forgetting tasks, getting distracted, or mixing up different tasks. It makes you more productive and helps you set achievable deadlines because you plan your tasks based on how long they will take.

6. Schedule Check-Ins and Ask for Feedback

Something you won’t like your client to feel is that you’re not dedicating enough time to their project. Seeking feedback is the cornerstone for meaningful client engagement and lasting relationships. So, especially when managing multiple client accounts, it’s critical to stay in touch and ask for their input. Will it be via daily, weekly or monthly sync meetings? Will you email them, share documents with them or add them to projects? Will you include the whole team, or just a few stakeholders?

Managing Multiple Clients In Productive

Managing multiple client projects effectively requires a strategic approach, but it also calls for the right tool. Productive was built for agencies and service providers who want to run every project or client like a separate profit center. Book a demo with our team to see how your agency can deliver client work more effectively with Productive.

Unlock Your Agency’s Full Potential

Switch from multiple tools and spreadsheets to one scalable agency management system.

Book a demo

Marija Kata Vlašić

Content Marketing Specialist

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