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How Marketing Agencies Can Overcome the Divide Between Project Management and Accounting

By Michael Zyborowicz, Megan Schmidtlein .

Today’s marketing agencies are flooded with new tech systems, processes, and communication platforms. This poses a problem — when project and finance staff are siloed in different systems and everyone is moving at a fast pace, mishaps are bound to occur. If accounting is not aware that a project has been started, canceled, or finished, they risk not accounting for revenue at month’s end, overstating revenue that does not exist, or not following up with clients who are overdue on payments. These internal divides can lead to a host of disconnects that can quickly escalate into bigger problems like inaccurate revenue recognition and missed billings.

How do you prevent these kinds of errors from happening? Your agency needs to achieve full visibility and control across its teams and tools. In this article, we will explore how to get there by establishing open channels of communication, strong processes, and efficient systems.

1. Break down the communications silo

To be successful as an agency, you need an open flow of communication between your creative and accounting staff. Project accounting, which is key to understanding the job and overall company profitability, requires more administrative upkeep than other types of accounting. Accounting staff need to be kept in the loop on project start dates, end dates, status, and any change orders, so they can accurately keep the books on an accrual basis. In the same vein, project staff need to be in the loop on when invoices and payment are going out so they can manage relationships effectively.

If teams are staying in their own lanes, valuable information is not being communicated, or at the very least, delayed. Your finance team might waste a lot of time tracking down project information, leaving little time for other financial reporting work that would help you understand the health of your business.

You can help break down the barriers and create more opportunities for cross-team connection by creating spaces where both sides can ask questions and share what they know. For instance, you could establish a weekly 15-minute meeting where both teams can update each other on project and payment milestones. Another option to consider is creating a shared Slack or Teams channel for questions specifically related to job status updates or requests.

2. Build processes that let both teams thrive

Beyond opening communication channels, you need to codify your processes so everyone knows exactly what information they are expected to share and when. Your team should establish clear processes tied to project milestones and checkpoints. For example, when a project wraps up, the operations team knows they have to notify accounting to send the final invoice. These processes should be documented and easily accessible (ideally, within your project management tool so they stay top of mind).

Ideally, there should be an effort to automate these processes with software. Today’s advanced systems will allow you to create rules, so when a new contract is uploaded or a project starts or finishes, accounting automatically gets a notification and is able to act. Depending on what software you are already using, this may mean optimizing your existing tool or upgrading to a new system.

3. Consider upgrading your tech stack

At the end of the day, there is only so much you can do to mitigate internal divisions by optimizing manual processes and documenting procedures. If you are working with different tools for your project management and accounting, and these systems do not communicate with each other, it can lead to duplicated data and efforts — not to mention delayed and inaccurate reporting. Eventually, you may want to consider moving to either a single system or integrated systems that can manage it all.

Today’s advanced enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems will allow your agency to manage contracts, project management tools, and accounting suites all within the same tool. This can save your team a lot of time lost on repetitive tasks, manual work, and unnecessary communication — ultimately freeing you to focus on more value-added activities.

While new tech requires an investment and a long selection and implementation timeline, the benefits your team will gain in terms of time-savings, data transparency, and information reliability will outweigh the costs. By planning ahead and working with an implementation provider like Citrin Cooperman, you can ensure a smooth transition and implementation of your new tool.

Connect people, processes, and technology to achieve project accounting peace of mind

How do you bridge the project management and accounting divide? Connect the people, processes, and technology that underlies it all. Citrin Cooperman’s Business Process Outsourcing Practice has the knowledge and industry expertise to assist agencies with closing gaps between their people, processes, and technology. Our team works diligently to ensure that data is reliable and accessible to every member of your team so both project leads and accountants can focus on what they do best.

Please contact Megan Schmidtlein at or Mike Zyborowicz at to find out how we can help you find the right systems for your business.

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