Code and Theory saves more than 10,000 hours a year with Airtable
In creative agencies, just like in Hollywood, producers are the stealthiest behind-the-scenes operators.
hours saved a year
Connected Apps in Airtable
“Producers are kind of like an unsung hero,” Code and Theory’s Director of Production Josh Currie says, “removing roadblocks and ensuring that everyone has exactly what they need to do their jobs as effectively, efficiently and creatively as possible.”
Code and Theory, a digital-first creative agency, is the mastermind behind high profile projects like the rebranding of the Washington Commanders football team and reimagining how the “Magic Wall” helps CNN cover the election and tell deeper stories with data. The global team of 2,000 people launched Amazon’s first ever global 360 campaign, helped artists grow their audience on Spotify, and designed a way for H&M customers to combine browsing with buying.
But when Josh joined in 2021 he saw that the agency’s internal tool strategy was all over the map. The agency’s official stance was to be “tool-agnostic,” which gave producers autonomy to run their own projects. This approach led to highly manual workflows that made reporting to leadership and clients less efficient. “The process was clunky, manual and inefficient,” Josh says. “The team wasn’t able to track individual contracts and estimates efficiently. It took a lot of human effort to gather and centralize the data.”
Producers all had their own idiosyncratic systems for getting work done. Contracts were sent for internal legal review that often lacked necessary context. This meant the legal team had to ask the same questions over and over to ensure all contracts provided adequate details and protections. With Airtable forms they were able to standardize the intake process, increase clarity and reduce unnecessary back and forth. The same can be said for reviewing budget estimates as well. Within their Airtable ecosystem the team created automated daily reporting of contract statuses, consistency with cost estimates, a centralized repository for all contacts, and a dashboard for individual reviews and approvals of contracts.
Josh’s leadership team trusted him to build a system that would enable the production department to work with a single source of truth for projects, contracts, and budget estimates. So he audited the agency and scoured for the best tool to align 18 departments across the organization. That’s how he discovered that the Product Strategy department at Code and Theory had been using Airtable for years, using it to build out current requirements documents for product builds. The current requirements document is a flexible design system. It’s a living document meant to change with each individual client's needs. The information about each project blueprint is collected in Airtable and informs a future product roadmap. Josh decided to pilot a similar system with one of their most complex accounts: a leading financial services institution, which at the time had eight different digital projects rolled into it, with eight different lead producers.
Josh went to the producers and helped them build a production handbook app in Airtable. The handbook gives an overview of individual project work, including individual team members, key client stakeholders, timelines, deliverables, and key documents. Each producer has their own individual project management base in Airtable that connects to the production handbook for continuity. Using Sync, data is then connected to a single Airtable base that tracks the health of each project, sales pipeline, internal and external invoices, and a master schedule for all work. Individual producers can use personalized views to ensure they’re only seeing information that pertains to them. Airtable forms create a direct feedback loop for clients throughout the process.
“Airtable reduced a lot of unnecessary confusion and inefficient communication.”
The lead producers saw the system’s value immediately. With Airtable’s specialized views and permissions producers are able to cut down a significant amount of inefficient, duplicative and manual work. Josh says the 60 person production department “started loving Airtable.”
“In the production department alone we saved more than 5,000 hours in one year.”
Adoption across the agency took off from there. “Next thing you know other team members outside the discipline started asking for it. It was an incredible organic roll out,” Josh said. He estimates roughly 500 people across 18 departments using Airtable Code and Theory saves at least 10,000 hours annually.
The success of the production team led to more connected apps for Code and Theory. Josh helped the legal team build a contract tracker app to create a consistent process for legal and business reviews of Letters of Engagement, Change Orders and Scope of Work contracts with clients. Previously the legal team used to edit a daily email manually updating the status of contracts in order to send an internal update to leadership. Now teams use Automations to share timely updates about the status of each contract. Automated reminders through Slack and email begin to alert team members five business days before a Letter of Engagement expires so they’re never working unprotected. “Airtable helps us mitigate risk,” Josh said.
They built a similar app for new project estimates, which meant greater visibility from all discipline leads and therefore more accurate estimates. Josh says Airtable has helped new producers get up to speed with projects faster, and it has cut out many categories of unnecessary status checks and questions. Since implementing this system Josh has been promoted to Director of Production at Code and Theory. He meets with agency CEO Michael Treff to walk through dashboards showing how quickly contracts are being approved or where they stand on topics like risk mitigation.
“Having been through many cycles of software adoption at Code and Theory, I can confirm the enthusiasm to which Airtable was received and embraced by both client teams and internal operations teams was staggering,” says Treff. “It's become a critical tool to how we work for our clients and ourselves.”
Josh calls Airtable, “the best producer possible.” The apps he built mirror what his team of producers do every day. Josh says, “Airtable gets out of everyone else’s way, removes obstacles, and allows everyone to do their best work.”