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thjnk: The way to workflow excellence - with awork

thjnk: The way to workflow excellence - with awork
November 2023
The case in short

About thjnk

Founded in 2012, the agency group thjnk AG is now managed by Armin Jochum (Co-Founder, CEO and CCO) and Horst Wagner (COO and CFO). With flagships in Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, Düsseldorf, Prague, New York and Zurich, thjnk AG has been part of the world's largest marketing service provider WPP since 2017 - and works for and with clients such as AUDI, IKEA, IHK, SWISS, Paulaner, HD+, Helios and Dallmayr.

The thjnk group includes: loved (corporate identity, brands and design), thjnk Media, Upljft (social media marketing tools, technology and creation from a single source) and 24/7 (specialist for data-driven, individualised content generation, automation and distribution). The thjnk agency group is one of the most award-winning agencies.

How does a creative agency find its flow?

"We believe in the one idea that has the power to change everything" - this is the credo of the creative agency thjnk. Not only when working for and with their customers - but also in internal processes. 

That's why their mission some time ago was to create even more space for great thoughts and ideas - and to drive forward their internal digitalisation. 

thjnk has therefore put its processes under the microscope. It was in these areas of the workflow that the obstacles manifested themselves the most:

Obstacle #1: Too many tools slow down efficiency

We'll take you on a quick trip into the former workflow at thjnk: Imagine you're part of the team and you're starting a new, exciting creative project. Spontaneous enquiry, complex project and of course the deadline is tight. So, let's go! Right?

Hold on. First you have to create the new project with all the tasks. But don't worry, you have a tool for that. However, you also need to carry out detailed capacity planning. Again, don't worry, you have another tool for this. Over the course of the project, your team will also need to be able to track their times, for which you will of course have another tool. In the meantime, you also need to maintain project communication. And guess what? Surprisingly, you have a tool for that.

Quiz question: How much time did your team lose switching between tools? 

Answer: Too much.

The team at thjnk used to use many different software solutions for different tasks in their daily workflows. And surprise: the tools were not connected. The team had to process each step separately, which meant that the administrative tasks took up a lot of time that would have been much better spent on customer projects. At the same time, many processes were simply redundant. 

[.b-testimonial]The efficiency was zero.[.b-testimonial]

Horst Wagner, Chief Digital Officer

Obstacle #2: The communication puzzle

Inefficient workflows are one thing. Inefficient workflows that are difficult to track are another. The culprit was the communication channel that thjnk mainly used before: email.

And hand on heart: who wouldn't lose track if 50-60 (!) internal and external emails about various customer projects landed in their inbox every day? It was also problematic that individual people were often dropped from the mailing list in the course of communication; for new team members, the entire project communication was a big puzzle that had to be solved first.

The answer: A centrepiece for project management

For thjnk, it was clear: time for change! In the same breath as the digitalisation of the company was taking place, the focus was on creating a uniform standard for project management. The centrepiece of this was to be a new workflow tool that transparently maps all work processes and combines the once separate steps into one.

"That's it!" - The new centrepiece gets placed

The creative agency had important conditions for a tool that was to become the new central basis for thjnk's most important project management processes:

  • It should transparently map collaboration across all projects
  • The team can record their times simply and easily
  • Coordinate capacity planning and deadlines directly in the tool 
  • The entire workflow is transparent for everyone at all times

[.b-testimonial]awork never seems complicated.[.b-testimonial]

Horst Wagner, Chief Digital Officer

When thjnk realised that the German workflow tool awork fulfilled exactly these conditions, it quickly became clear that it should become the new centrepiece.

First the seed, then the tree: how thjnk got everyone involved

But how do you get over 500 employees to drop their old habits and integrate a new tool into their daily work routine? The solution from thjnk: Baby steps 🍼 - in two ways:

  1. Start in small teams

Before everyone jumped straight into the new tool and chaos broke out, thjnk opted for a small team as a test object. This allowed the agency to gather feedback and experience that would benefit the other teams. In addition, one person per location was chosen as an awork oracle who could always answer questions.

  1. Exploring functions bit by bit

Large projects become easier when they are broken down into smaller chunks. The same applies to the rollout of a new tool. So instead of immediately starting with the full range of functions, the team at thjnk took a leisurely stroll from feature to feature: first we went into the valley of task management, then on to the clearing of time recording, right up to the summit of chapter planning. All in a relaxed manner, without directly exhausting themselves.

Back in the flow: A new standard in project management

Today, all of the approximately 500 employees at thjnk work with awork. They use it to map their operational tasks, record their times, manage projects, plan their capacities and organise their customers.

thjnks favourite feature: Time tracking

The sprout breaks through the hard shell: "A shared space for consulting and creation"

On its mission to digitalise the company, thjnk has completed the standardisation of its project management with awork. Consultancy and creation now meet beyond communication barriers and stay up to date at all times, as all projects are now accessible to everyone in one central location in awork. And it doesn't matter when someone new joins the project or company: All stakeholders can access all information at any time.

This is bearing fruit: instead of the previous 50-60 emails per day, today on average around 50% fewer emails end up in the inboxes at thjnk - mainly externally. This is because internal communication takes place entirely in awork.

Where trust blossoms: thjnk creates transparency

Like Iron Man with the Avengers or Harry with Dumbledore's Army: thjnk now forms real project dream teams with its clients. Thanks to guest access in awork, the creative team and clients know the current status of the project at all times. This allows thjnk to automatically create more trust, as full transparency is available.

At the same time, the project team can work faster and react to changes as the processes are customised to the team and the clients.

[.b-testimonial]With awork, we can create a project team feeling together with our customers.[.b-testimonial]

Janis Baumgartner, Director Operations

One tool, less costs

Gone are the days of multiple tools. With awork, thjnk bundles different areas into one software. This is made possible by the open API, which allows easy integration with other service providers. As a result, the thjnk team only works in awork and also uses it for time recording and capacity planning - instead of switching to external tools. 

This not only ensures more efficient workflows, but also has an impact on costs: Compared to before, awork ensures around 30% more cost efficiency at thjnk, as one tool replaces several.

A dream team in the organisation flow

A creative agency has found its flow again. And in return, thjnk also provides valuable input for the awork team; the agency has already left its fingerprint on individual features in the tool. A real dream team has also been created here - just as thjnk now forms with its clients and continues to create great ideas.

So there you have it, the perfect seed mix for a flourishing flow: recognising and overcoming hurdles with an intuitive tool that bundles many into one; introducing the entire team with baby steps and breaking down barriers in communication once and for all. The result: a cost-efficient garden full of transparency and cooperation.

[.b-button-primary] Discover awork for agencies [.b-button-primary]

About the author
Jessica Julia Mrzik
Content Marketing Manager @ awork
Jess' and content's love story goes waaaay back. Her early journalist path led Jess to her true passion in marketing, where she now advocates for the joy of work and writes passionately about everything new work, work happiness and work management.
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