With Productive, Brigada Increased Project Profitability

With over a decade of award-winning work under their belt, Brigada successfully bonds different, yet very connected fields of work. This multi-disciplinary spatial design agency (and Bruketa&Žinic&Grey partner) joins architecture, spatial and product design, marketing and psychology to create exciting solutions, mainly for retail purposes. We spoke with Zoja Ivanišević, Head of Development at Brigada to hear what areas of their day-to-day work evolved after they started using Productive.

Tell us a bit about your role and how Brigada is set up as an agency.

I’ve been at Brigada for almost three years now. During that time, my role has shifted from Project Manager to Head of Development. We have three main teams in our agency: business development (I admit that we use Productive the most), our team of architects and product designers.

How did you forecast and manage resource planning before Productive?

We started using Productive about two years ago. Before Productive, we used a number of communication and project management tools, but all our data was spread across multiple platforms. All our internal communication was in Slack.

For resource planning, we had a huge whiteboard in our office, where we’d physically move our people around different color-coordinated projects. In theory, our method was great, but in reality—it wasn’t visually easy to understand.

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Did you track time before?

Somewhat. We used Google Calendar to note which projects we worked on at the end of each day, but we didn’t literally track time in an app, or know which phase of a project people were working on. So we could never get the level of detail we have today.

“Before, we didn’t have precise insight into how profitable a project was until we actually delivered it.”

So how did you know how profitable each project was?

At the end of each project, we’d do an evaluation in Excel to see our profitability. So we could never get the level of accuracy we have today. Before, we didn’t have precise insight into how profitable a project was until we actually delivered it.

Because our profitability evaluation would happen after a project was done, we could never figure out, mid-project, whether we’d see less profit or break a budget until it was in the past.

What pain points did you start experiencing before moving to Productive? Why did you start looking for a tool?

Let’s say that we had all the tools we needed, but they were a mix of analog and digital channels, which gave us much less accuracy and it took us significantly more time to consolidate data.

When we started looking for a tool, we found a lot of solutions that were geared towards tech agencies. We found out about Productive through Infinum, and figured out it had everything that we needed. We wanted a tool that would make our processes easier, for everything to be in one place, and things to be visually easy to use. 

What was switching over to Productive like?

It was super easy to import our entire business into the tool, it took us two and a half months to fully migrate our agency. On top of that, we got support whenever we needed it.

“Overall, I’d say we’ve saved 2 hours a week on project management since we started using Productive.”

How has your job evolved over the years?

Productive has helped us with long-term planning. Every six months we do a review of certain project phases. For example, through time, we figured out we had to raise the prices of certain project phases because they weren’t bringing us profit. Actually, those same phases were bringing our profitability down in each similar project. Thanks to the analysis we’re able to do with Productive, we learned which services we needed to raise the prices for and consequently, we’re seeing an increase in profit. 

Productive also helps me a ton with resource planning. Now that we have bigger and bigger projects and clients, we’re able to forecast hiring needs using Scheduling. Also, if I see that the scope of a project will increase for a short period of time, I know I need to book contractors in advance. Before, it was a lot more ad hoc and hoping for the best.

Overall, I’d say we’ve saved 2 hours a week on project management since we started using Productive.

What benefits do you think your team members got with Productive?

Our architects and product designers definitely save time on communication and figuring out who’s working on what and when someone’s off or working from home. We’re all on the same page thanks to Productive.

And lastly, how would you feel if you didn’t have Productive in 2021?

I think I’d feel totally handicapped. I’m so used to using Productive and having our whole business in the tool. It’s such an essential part of our daily work routine now. What’s more, we have our entire archive of financial data available within a few clicks. 

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