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Creating social strategy for the digital age

VaynerMedia is a brand consulting agency with a focus on social media. They work with clients to develop social strategy and create content at scale for social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vine, incorporating a passion for emerging technology. VaynerMedia takes great pride in ensuring that every client they work with pushes the envelope in terms of exploring new platforms as they come along. A fast growing company founded in the Spring of 2009 by Gary and AJ Vaynerchuk, they have grown from 50 to 250 employees over the past two years, and have worked with high profile clients, like the New York Jets.

Support for fixed fee and hourly projects

We spoke with AJ Vaynerchuk, cofounder of VaynerMedia, about what they used before they found Harvest. “For invoicing, it was just very straightforward QuickBooks. To be perfectly honest, we’re a pretty young company, and we weren’t really doing a lot with time tracking, so Harvest was our first deep dive into the world of time tracking as an agency. Our fees had been structured by project, as opposed to by tracked time, but now, we adjust case by case (some projects use hourly fees, and others use fixed fees).”

He goes on to explain how VaynerMedia has incorporated Harvest into their workflow. “The majority of the plans that we work with utilize a yearly retainer and a monthly retainer, and we track our time to ensure that we’re staying within scope, and not going over budget. We also have one-off projects and campaigns, where we specify to clients that they’re going to get a certain number of hours of a person’s time, and that we bill that based on the actuals, so we’re time tracking when there’s a specific deliverable as well.”

A forward-thinking solution for a forward-thinking team

“I have quite a few friends in the start up community and a lot of entrepreneurial friends, and I felt like time tracking, especially in the agency landscape, has a lot of legacy software and old kinds of standards. We pride ourselves on thinking outside the box and not just obliging by what the market or the industry says we should use. I knew a lot of people who used Harvest, and I saw a lot of blog posts and tweets about Harvest, so when I started to think about time tracking in a bigger way, the first thing that came to my mind was Harvest. When I tested it out, I liked the web functionality, and it kind of just felt true to how the nature of VaynerMedia operates. We always want to be using emergent technology and smart software, not just following the old standards of antiquated agency software and solutions.”

We always want to be using emergent technology and smart software, not just following the old standards of antiquated agency software and solutions.

Learn more about Harvest

Easy onboarding

When it comes to getting employees to track their time, AJ appreciates that Harvest is uncomplicated, and easy to use. “I think we’re at a place now where, as a company, the vast majority of our employees have used the program. So when there is somebody who’s new and needs to be onboarded, there’s a lot of people that have the institutional knowledge to help them get up to speed, but it’s rarely needed.”

Accurate reporting

VaynerMedia has been able to utilize Harvest reports to get both a quick health check on how business is going, as well as surface patterns and opportunities within the organization. “We use time tracking spurts for samples. Whenever I’m kind of looking at the work we’re delivering for a client, I ask my staff to track their time during these high intensity bursts at an amazingly granular level, where we make sure that the time tracking is happening over, say, a two week or a four week period, and it’s really intense and accurate. And then we use that sample to give us a feel for the state of the union and how we’re tracking our business.”

“The thing that I see to be most useful, and we’re doing it for a project right now, is not only the staff and their hours dedicated, but where those hours are going. A common characteristic of many of the retainers that we sign for one year with our clients is that kind of all encompassing retainer, where they’re getting a lot of different services under one budget. So they’re getting account management, social strategy, content creation, community management, campaign ideation, collaboration with other agencies, all under one scope. And we have people that do many different things. So it’s important for me not only to know how many hours a certain position’s been, but how those hours are being spent, so that I can identify patterns and opportunities and problems from that.”

Harvest has been very useful for us as we have discussions with our client when we re-evaluate our business.

Learn more about project reporting

“Harvest has been very useful for us as we have discussions with our client when we re-evaluate our business, and we’re either talking to our clients about reducing the amount of work that we’re doing, or decreasing the fee we’re receiving. Harvest has been a valuable tool for data tracking for us, for sure.”