Hike One Has Control Over Their Data and Growth With Productive

Hike One is a digital product design agency of over 70 “Hikers”. With offices in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Eindhoven, Hike One works on digital products for big Dutch corporations. Though this agency boasts a flat hierarchy, we had a chat with Martijn Pillich who plays the role of Managing Director. Read on to discover the main benefits they’ve experienced after almost a year of using Productive.

Can you tell us a bit about Hike One?

We’re a design agency highly specialized in the design of functional digital products: mobile apps, web applications, and other types of apps. We’re spread across three offices—nowadays that’s a place where we get together since people mostly work from home. We have a couple of producers and strategists and we do research and then our in-house team works with partners who develop those products.

What were you using before Productive? What were your main requirements for a new tool?

We were using a combination of spreadsheets and a few different tools, but we couldn’t get all the data that we needed.

Right before Productive, we were using Simplicate. Even though we were putting a lot of data into the tool, we were missing reporting and we desperately needed to fix that.

Another thing that we needed was a system for resource management. With resource planning comes forecasting and getting a better idea of where your agency is going in the next few months.

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How and when did you first hear about Productive?

Productive was on our shortlist while we were looking for a core agency management tool. Though our previous tool was in the same city, we now get much better support.

“We were relying on gut feelings and we knew that we didn’t have control over our data. Productive gave us that control.”

Can you share some concrete benefits you experienced after switching to Productive?

We started using Productive about a year ago. I started seeing benefits roughly three months in—patterns in the data. We were relying on gut feelings before and we knew that we didn’t have control over our data. Productive gave us that control.

Productive’s insights have already helped us make much more informed decisions. Before, we didn’t know profitability per client or profitability per employee.

Productive has helped us to increase our billable utilization by around 10%, resulting in a healthier profit margin

With Productive, we can plan further ahead – 6 to 8 weeks instead of 1 or 2 weeks, which brings more peace to the team

Thanks to Productive, potential problems in projects or with employees come to light much earlier, so we can solve them faster

Was it hard to learn how to use Insights?

I’d say no, but maybe that’s just me. I like getting insights so I’m really willing to learn. I love that Productive is really flexible. I can use it the way I want to and customize reports with custom fields and formulas. I can even export that data if I want to.

What’s surprising about it is that you feel like you have this great relationship with a client, you’re doing great work and everyone is happy. Then you see the numbers and realize the profit margin is not that good at all, so you start reconsidering.

Did any data that you started seeing shock or surprise you? 

Absolutely. What’s surprising about it is that you feel like you have this great relationship with a client, you’re doing great work and everyone is happy. Then you see the numbers and realize the profit margin is not that good at all, so you start reconsidering.

We (also) saw that our seniors were underpriced, so we changed our pricing model thanks to the data we got in Productive. We then learned very quickly that some of our clients are happy to pay more if they can get more experienced people. But it’s that kind of thing that you don’t really think about if you don’t have those numbers in front of you.

So Insights definitely opened up a lot of good discussions. Instead of one gut feeling vs. another gut feeling, you can just open the reports and have a more rational conversation.

“With Productive we’re able to look a lot further ahead now. Before we used to plan projects about two weeks in advance. Now we’re accepting bookings for projects that start in 4-6 weeks.

How has your forecasting window for resource planning and hiring changed?

With Productive we’re able to look a lot further ahead now. That changes the game quite a bit. Now our sales reps take that into account when talking to a client. Instead of promising we can start anytime, they can actually influence the efficient allocation of the entire team. That helps a lot.

It’s a delicate balance. Typically you need some preparation time before a new project, but you still want to start as soon as possible. Before we used to plan projects about two weeks in advance. Now we’re accepting bookings for projects that start in 4-6 weeks. That window gives us more time to prepare projects than before.

Now we have the optimal amount of time to inform everyone and it’s less volatile now. The next few weeks are fully booked, designers know what they can expect. Also, they can do better work if they’re not booked on too many projects at once, which Productive has helped us with, too.

“It’s my job to figure out what’s holding us back from growing even more. Productive gives me an answer to that question. All I do is make a new insight to figure out what’s going on.”

Generally speaking, how much easier is your job since you started using Productive?

My job is a lot easier now! Maybe that’s because I’m a numbers guy. I like to understand what’s going on and be able to quantify what’s going on. It gives me a better vision of what’s the next most important objective.

It’s my job to figure out what’s holding us back from growing even more. Productive gives me an answer to that question. Before it would take a lot of talking to people and making custom spreadsheets. Now, all I do is make a new Insight to figure out what’s going on.

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