Marek Mencl, Pábení partner

Who’s Pábení?

I guess it depends. For our team, it’s someone they can rely on, a space for development and great work. For our clients, it’s a reliable partner who walks the extra mile, values honesty and tackles real challenges.

How big is your current team?

There are 10 people at the heart of Pábení – all of them designers of different focus. They deal with service design, facilitation, research and copywriting, which was actually at the very beginning of our journey.

What hierarchy do you apply?

I don’t want to say that we’re a ‘free’ company, we’re still too punk to call ourselves that. Internally, we have established different roles – formal or natural – that cover all the areas of our operation, and it seems to be working fine so far.

How do you advance and learn?

We learn by working on client projects, as well as on our internal ones, in which we’re not afraid to invest both time and money.

Why did you start using Costlocker?

We’ve been using Costlocker for two years now, and we started immediately after going into business. We wanted to watch our financial status, performance and profitability. And, of course, we wanted a platform to help us with time tracking and management.

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Did you consider other applications?

Yes, we considered Harvest, Teamweek, Toggl and GetTraffica.

What made you decide for Costlocker?

Our previous experience. We jumped right in on day one and never needed to look back. Also, its ease of use: onboarding of new people was very easy.

How exactly does Costlocker help you?

We see ahead, and we always know what the following 2-3 months are going to be like. Thanks to these insights, we can plan new projects better. We always see how profitable our projects are and thanks to historical data, we can compare. Finally, the data we get from Costlocker help us set up how we distribute rewards in our team.

What challenges are you currently facing?

One of our priorities for this year is to improve the coordination and operation of projects, so that we can deliver fast and quality solutions in a few weeks, or months at most. To do that, we need to allocate 2-3 designers to a single project that we’ll be devoting all our skill and attention to.

How would you describe Costlocker in you own words?

One of the few apps you’ll love using every day.

„You’ll always see how your business is doing and won’t forget what you invoiced and why. You and your people will know how much time and budget is left on the project, and you’ll get a better idea about what your team is working on, as well as about which deals you screwed up, because there’s not enough time left for their completion.“

How difficult was it to adopt Costlocker at your company?

Pretty difficult. Why tracking our time is important and how it can help us develop further is an ever recurring issue we need to keep explaining to our people.

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How do you explain it then? What convinced them in the end?

Honestly, I think we’re still not there yet. First, we created a shared document with scenarios explaining how, but more importantly, why we track – how important it is for our planning and especially for new project budgeting. However, as time progresses, I still feel that tracking time is such so unnatural for us, that we’ll maybe end up getting rid of it altogether. We’ll see.

If you were to share a single piece of advice with someone who wants to build a successful agency, what would it be?

There’s no universal success recipe. Also, each of us measures success in a different way. To me, success means staying motivated to learn new stuff, develop Pábení and do meaningful work. As for that piece of advice – besides buying Costlocker – learn to say no. Say no to dumb and cheap projects. Say no to half-assed work. And finally, say no to people who don’t fit in your team.

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