Introducing Tipi: Mohawk’s answer to resource planning

As a busy, global creative agency, scheduling and resource planning is king. When we couldn’t find an existing tool to meet our requirements, we decided it was time to build our own. Alison Retz, Senior Project Manager at Mohawk, explains the benefits that Tipi has brought us, and why we’re opening it up to other agencies with similar issues…

Apr 22, 2016 · 6 min read

For any agency, resource planning and scheduling is a hot topic. It’s key to know the level of workload forecast over the coming weeks and months, and what resource you can use to deliver on new projects as they come in:

• Project managers need to know what deadlines they can commit to with clients

• Heads of department want to know what’s on the horizon for their teams — and whether they have the head count to deal with what’s in the pipeline

• Partners and Financial Directors need this information to make decisions on resourcing and to forecast budgets — even steering decisions as to whether outsourcing or freelancers are necessary.

Why, then, do agencies typically struggle so much with getting this information at their fingertips?

“For any agency, resource planning and scheduling is a hot topic”

Why is resource planning such a drag?

Say you need to forecast the next 3 months workload. The typical responses to this question range between anything from a ‘finger in the air’ best guess chucked in to an excel spreadsheet — to sifting through the reams of data your timesheet or scheduling software spits out and trying to make some sense from it. If these are your options, it’s easy to see why people tend to put forecasting to the bottom of their to-do list. It becomes a difficult and boring job, which is only paid attention when the proverbial shit hits the fan.

What if there was a better way to deal with this scenario?

What we needed was a scheduling tool that gave a long-term view over resource availability, as well as making it easy to plan the short-term, immediate schedule for your team. This seemed like such an obvious requirement, we were sure a tool must already exist. So we were surprised when our research turned up a blank. As discussed in my previous post, we couldn’t find a tool out there that ticked all the boxes. There was a clear winner on the scheduling front — Float — which did one thing, and did it well. So we decided to use Float for our scheduling needs and create a bespoke ecosystem around it, building on their API to turn it in to a one-stop powerhouse of resource, scheduling and forecasting to empower our team and help us make key business decisions.

I’ve talked previously about the Project Management tools we use at Mohawk, and the advantages and disadvantages of some of the most popular software available. Here I’ll delve deeper into the functionality of our own tool, Tipi, talking about why we built it and the key features we’ve incorporated.

Keen to find out more? Feel free to contact us to ask for a demo.

“At Mohawk, our ‘I’m possible’ ethos echoes through everything we do — so when we see a clear need and a way to improve on existing tools, we don’t think twice about briefing our innovation lab, rolling up our sleeves and getting stuck in”

When developing Tipi, these are the features and benefits we ensured were a key focus:

  • Keep projects on budget: it’s all too easy to forget about the resource the client signed off as soon as they approve an estimate, and before you know it the budget can creep out of control. Tipi shows users the time estimated vs resource scheduled for each project, in real time — so you can quickly and easily see if your project is going over budget and take steps to fix things before it’s too late.
  • Long-term resource planning: Tipi’s forecast view shows how busy each department in the agency is over the coming weeks and months, to help pinpoint where there may be issues with under or over-resourcing and utilisation. This is shown in a simple graph view which is updated in real time as resource is requested.
Tipi’s long-term forecast view makes resource planning easy
  • Design-led: our design experts followed intuitive design principles to ensure tipi was simple and straightforward to use — since we know that behaviourally, you’re more likely to complete a task if you perceive it as being easy to do. The data is presented in a quick-to-digest format that everyone can comprehend, without having to do any number crunching. This helps to turn forecasting and scheduling from a boring, bottom-of-the-todo-list job, to a quick and easy task.
  • User-friendly: Tipi’s simple and clear design also makes it a simple and intuitive product for anyone to pick up and start using. With google authentication, one-click login can be set up for an entire organisation. No need for passwords, training, implementation or roll out time.
Tipi’s simple layout makes it straightforward for everyone to use
  • A moderator for resource requests: Tipi acts as the middle man between your resource and your project managers. Project managers can submit their resource requests, however outlandish, while the person in charge of scheduling has an overview of all these requests and the power to either accept or decline them. This keeps your schedule under control and prompts useful discussions over priorities and deadlines.
Tipi makes it easy for Project Managers to request resource and update as needed

At Mohawk, our ‘I’m possible’ ethos echoes through everything we do — so when we see a clear need and a way to improve on existing tools, we don’t think twice about briefing our innovation lab, rolling up our sleeves and getting stuck in to crafting a digital product which is both beautiful and functional in equal measure.

When we set out to build Tipi, we knew we wanted a tool that was effective in putting information at our fingertips, but also a pleasure to work with.

We’ve already noticed how Tipi has helped us address potential issues around resourcing and ensured we’re having productive conversations about them before they become problematic. The longer-term forecast allows us to spot problem areas earlier, giving us more time to find a solution — which ultimately means we have more options open to us. It allows us to be nimble and proactive rather than re-active, making informed decisions that are guided by real project data.

Ultimately, anything that improves our workflow benefits our clients and ensures we’re getting the best outcome for their projects, serving our end goal of creating inspiring journeys for everyone we work with.

If you’d like to learn more about Tipi, get in touch with us to organise a demo.

Alison Retz is Senior Project Manager at Mohawk.

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