For many small agencies, operational management — such as project, talent, and financial management — is not a core capability. It’s a common misconception that, because of their size, these agencies do not need to prioritize operations. Or alternatively, they find it better to outsource these skills rather than own them in-house.

At HDMZ, we prefer a different approach: We’ve found that maintaining operational excellence within our company benefits not only the agency but also our clients. Through data-driven decisions, financial management, and a commitment to scalability, we maintain advantageous operational practices that enable us to provide our clients with the highest quality of work.

Data-Driven Decisions

As an agency that works in the life sciences, it should come as no surprise that we find it particularly important to make our decisions based on solid data. To be able to gather all of this data continuously, we must have the right technology platforms and tools in place. When the decisions are on an organizational level, it’s important to make sure that every employee is utilizing those platforms and tools — which requires operational support to make sure those systems are operating correctly and to gather and analyze the data from them.

For example, a robust project management system allows us to track projects more accurately and measure workforce utilization. This system ensures that resources are properly allocated from project to project and that budget tracking is in place.

Through a data visualization dashboard of employee utilization, we can more easily see which employee has the capacity to take on a new project — rather than assign that project to an employee who is already working on several large projects and would be unable to devote the proper time and attention to a new one. This ensures not only that employees are not overwhelmed with more work than they can reasonably handle but also that the client ultimately receives a better end product as quickly as possible.

Financial Management

Robust financial controls and reporting are critical to supporting data-driven decisions. Having a complete and thorough understanding of the flow of funds allows us to make sound financial choices for the agency and our partners. The tools we use to track project budgets are an excellent illustration of how a small agency can achieve the operational excellence of a large organization. Through monitoring tools, such as Accelo, we’re able to analyze how much time is being spent on a particular project and how budgets are being used at a granular level. Billing project time accurately across the organization is critical to ensuring we’re charging clients only for the exact amount of work that has been done. At the same time, it allows us to adjust planned activities to make sure we’re in line with our clients’ budgets. 


Another important element of our approach to operations is solving operational challenges for the current agency size and assessing how these challenges will change moving forward and what would be required if the agency were to grow two or three times its size. This gives us the ability to grow as needed without losing efficiency or devoting additional resources to restructuring. It also provides us with the flexibility to accommodate major upticks in client needs seamlessly.

One way HDMZ achieves scalability is that, rather than have our client-facing staff perform the dual functions of account executive and project manager; we’ve carved out distinct roles for each. For agencies at a larger scale, having staff fill both roles at once is unsustainable.

For an agency of our current size, this allows account executives to invest time and energy in becoming experts on client business and strengthening those relationships rather than diverting their attention toward day-to-day operational tasks. At the same time, it allows our project managers to become experts in good operational practices and procedures, thereby improving the function of our agency as a whole. 

Looking ahead

Though our team at HDMZ is small, at approximately 50 strong, our prioritization of operational excellence allows us to provide partners with the efficiency of a large organization. And when the time comes for our agency to grow, we’ll be more than prepared for that as well.