The ultimate agency tech stack

This was going to be a series of posts but I decided to just merge everything together into a mega guide. The different sections are:

  • Processes & Documentation (getting stuff done)

  • HR & People (looking after your people)

  • Legal & Security (protecting yourself & the agency)

  • Finance (looking after the money)

  • Hosting (getting yourself out there)

These tools are useful for daily agency work. While small teams may not require a task manager, but as your hierarchy grows you will find these tools essential.

Processes and documentation


I couldn’t recommend Notion more. For me, there’s no tool that can replace it. If I started my agency again, I would get Notion as soon as my income allowed. Notion can essentially act as an intranet (if you are too young to know what these are read here).

I have multiple use cases for Notion, which I can expand on in future posts. For now, these are:

  • Process documentation eg how to do X task

  • Business essentials eg how to access the office

  • Client notes and actions

  • Sales CRM

  • Content calendar management

Here’s my affiliate code for notion, they reward me for recommending them: (now i actually get rewarded for sending business to them which i’ve not for the last 3 years).

Click Up

Next on the list is Click Up. If you are a small team you can make do with Asana or Monday, which work out cheaper and the adoption rate is higher as they are so easy to use.

Click Up offers a more robust system that can be customised to work how you want it to work compared to Asana and Monday, which are pretty fixed and structured (which some people prefer). are masters at Click Up specific content for agencies.

A simple use case for NOVOS, we wanted our SEO, PR and Content teams to work closer together and have insights into each others workflow on a specific client. Asana and Monday didn’t offer this. However, Click Up has robust folder structure where you can view workload across all three folders (the different services) and then dig deeper into specific service offerings for specific clients.

In short, a manager or client lead can view all activity for a single client across multiple folders. Then the specific executor (eg the writer) can just dig in and focus specifically on the client content subfolder. The writer can also create filters and views to view ALL content folders across all client master folders. This gives you a micro and macro view of discipline or service across clients as well as a micro and macro view of clients across all services.


This is a new tool for me. We moved for better planning, insights and reporting that Harvest didn’t give us. Harvest has been a fine solution for us for years and is worth the money. However, once you get a Project Manager in place demands for more detailed reports, plans and data are needed which Harvest can’t provide.


This is a nice to have and has served me well for years. It is a good way to visualise a message, workflow or department in a simple format. We’ve used it for internal and client work. Click Up has recently created it’s own board version, which isn’t as robust but does what you need without the need for an extra tool cost. If you are struggling to get good visuals for your decks, it’s worth giving Miro a trial.

Just getting started?

If you’ve just started your agency stick with Notion to start. Get Harvest in place as soon as its feasible financially then look to explore robust project management tools like Asana or Click Up. Notion is good for everything but you’re agency will soon get greater needs and demands that notions to do lists can’t support.

HR and People

As your agency grows you’ll need tools to stay on top of managing relevant people and HR information. This article is gonna introduce you to three of these essential tools. They’re all about taking the hassle out of HR so you can actually enjoy running your agency.

Breathe hr

Breathe was recommended by a HR advisor. It offers a low cost cloud-based solution to HR information and documentation.

Within Breathe staff submit holiday requests, we manage bonus’ and payrises which go to our accountant. Integrates with Xero payroll if needed.

You can also log staff quarterly performance reviews and documentation as well as more formal documents like sick notes or occupational health notes.

Everything is secure and has a strong access functionality so only managers of individuals can see their portal with some staff (eg owners or ops) having access to everything.

We also have our staff hierachy organisational tree stored in here too.


Assembly is used for staff recognition and engagement. It’s a tool that isn’t needed until you get to a certain size, potentially 20 people plus.

The main benefit of the tool is peer to peer recognition for good work. Each staff member has an allocation of tokens to give out each month (can be personalised to what you want eg claps, thumbs up). When staff are recognised they build up these tokens and they can cash them out for a reward eg deliveroo vouchers etc. It’s a great way to give recognition to staff and for the team to be developing and doing this peer to peer rather than all coming top down. You can also use it to run surveys via slack.


Officely is mainly to manage the office attendance, in the past we have used it to book certain seats when our office space was limited. You can also use it to break out who’s in the office and who’s working from home throughout the week.

Just getting started?

Right at the start we made do with just Google drive and made sure permissions were kept tight. You can start exploring the additional tools when you get closer to a 10 person team remember these tools need maintenance otherwise they are useless so someone needs to own and keep updated, typically an operations role.

Communication & Documentation

In term of general day to day working i’ve always used Google Suite throughout my entire career. I can’t give direct usage feedback on the other options but what i have seen of it them don’t like so i stick to Google Suite as i’ve had no issues with it.

Within Google suite you’ll be covered with the following and it scales with you as the business grows:

  • Individual emails linked to your domain

  • Documentation (google docs, sheets, presentations etc)

  • Google meets video calls

  • Cloud drive storage and document sharing

G-suite is pretty incredible for what you get and it scales with your business from a solopreneur all the way up to a 100+ team.

In terms of daily comms we use slack rather than the G chat function, again as its more robust and allows multiple channels. We’ve also integrate clients into slack as it helps to provide a quicker and better service.

Slack is not an essential tool until you get a team of 5-10 i’d say. Slack is also a big productivity killer, the platform itself is instant messaging so you get bombarded with messages that seem urgent but in reality they are not. Stay away for as long as possible i’d say until you find fundamental communication issues between your teams. It does significantly reduce the amount emails.

Just getting started?

Just use Google suite, its very good and well priced. Adopt a folder structure early on and stick with it. The Living House did this very well before I joined, we never properly adopted one at NOVOS and it got too big too quick to re-organise everything. Now we rely on Notion to centralise and organise our documentation.


This is an essential to get going asap, you’d want to be sending your first contracts securely via these platforms. We started with dochub, it’s a cheaper option and fine for what it offers, it gets the job done. We’ve upgraded recently to docusign which is more expensive but a more efficient and faster tool to use.

Last pass

Store and share passwords securely from day one. You can set up folders with your master passwords and share them with individuals in your business. The folders can be a master company one or department specific. Either way and essential purchase to keep your business safe as your team grows. You can make do with Google / Apple password managers but as the team grows you need a sharing functionality.

Another alternative is Nord Pass is another alternative which comes highly rated. We were exploring migrating but the effort to benefit ratio wasn’t adding up.

This was the first suggestion I made to The Living House when I joined, it’s so important.

Google Authenticator

Where possible always set up your tools with google authenticator, it’s a free app to download and set the tools as required authenticator in settings so each team member has a code they generate from their phones to access the tools.

The following 2 were set up by our IT consultant, definitely something worth doing when you get above 20/25 people:

  • Hornet: Scans all email external links before your browser accesses to limit phising and spam links.

  • SOPHOS: Managed cyber security service. It gets loaded on to all teams devices to monitor viruses and wider security issues.

Just getting started?

Get last pass or some kind of third party password manager from day one. I think last pass is free for a 1 person 1 device account. Use dochub to get contracts signed professionally as soon as it becomes financially viable, it does help to change the perception of your business.



Xero covers all aspects of financial reporting and documentation. Your accountants will use it to file collect all the relevant information at the end of the year and submit your tax return.

You should raise your invoices directly from Xero instead of the banking apps in my opinion as it’s all native and you won’t have to worry about feeds.

Once invoices are raised in xero you’ll have to document your expenses then throughout the year you can view progress in the reporting section to see your P&L and balance sheets, these are management accounts and not your formal year end accounts.

Xero is the go to for many small businesses and for good reason. Avoid going for corporate type offerings like sage. Xero does what you need it to do at a reasonable price. Your accountant and/or book keeper will largely manage it. If you don’t have a book keeper you can do it yourself theres good youtube videos on how the platform works but eventually you’ll get to a point it’s too admin heavy and you’ll need to get a book keeper to manage it monthly at this point you’ll likely to have enough income to cover a book keeper.

The main downside of Xero is the payroll function but you can explore different options when you get bigger but again your accountant would have a preference on this.


A well priced tool that connects directly with your xero account to give you more robust reporting. You can also upload your annual forecast and Fathom will provide you with very good click and drop reports and dashboards benchmarking real performance vs the original forecast.

Wise international

When it comes to international payments to freelancers or other individuals (not full time staff) i’ve only ever used Wise and it’s never let me down. I don’t do a massive amount, potentially £2-3k per month so the rates are fair. The larger your payments and the bigger you get there maybe a better option on the market but for a sub-100 agency its very good and easy to use especially now it syncs with apple wallet.


If you need a bank account set up asap then go with Tide or Monzo as the set up process is super quick and you avoid a lot of paper work from traditional banks.

Both are good options, simple to use and have decent functionality and reporting.

Traditional bank

Once you get going and the business is off the ground you should get a more formal traditional bank in place over the start up players. I’ve used HSBC, Barclays and Metro all have their pros and cons. HSBC is very limited in terms of the quantity of accounts you can set up and the Metro onboard process relys too much on their physical banks and is painful. Traditional banks offer more protection, better accessibility across multiple devices, better customer service, overdraft options and connect better with third party apps in my experience.

Amex gold

I’d recommend an Amex once your expenses start getting above £5k per month or if you have fixed fees coming out each month eg Marketing spend, tech purchases like laptops etc. Amex allows you to delay the money coming from your bank account by 30-40 days, cashflow is an absolute killer for small businesses so any buffer you can give to money leaving your bank account should be a priority. On top of this you can claim points from the business spending which you can use for yourself for travel or products relating to the business.


I’ve kept this section as simple as possible but to just share my experiences around hosting options.

Squarespace vs Wix

Both of these options are fine if you are in the design led space and your images can get you past the templated layouts that these platforms offer. I’ve compared them both 3 times and every time i go for squarespace. Its most recent functions are very customisable and has a good ecosystem of designers and devs you can tap into for a good price. The Living House is hosted on squarespace and NOVOS started on squarespace, its a very good option to just get something up and semi-forget about it.

Both option have a limited blog functionality.


My go to option for agencies is still wordpress, especially if you want a more custom feel and uniqueness. I can’t tell when companies are hosted on WordPress still but i can for the 2 mentioned above.

WordPress is the OG of blogging CMS’ and out of any functionality for an agency it’s the blog that you need to make sure is shit hot as it’s an excellent tool for acquisition and brand awareness. I hosted this blog on WordPress and it’s a very good price, if you want to install a custom theme you will need to pay the business package which costs more than the essentials which does make it more expensive than the 2 options previously.

For NOVOS I started us on Squarespace then moved to WordPress for a rebrand. We then move to a headless WordPress set up which i wouldn’t recommend until you have strong resource in house. It solves the speed issues for customers but makes it much slower to actually update the website.

Just getting started?

If you have a tech mind and like to fix websites / solve issues and aren’t concerned about sometimes getting a dev freelancer then go for WordPress. If you just want to build and leave it for a while then go for Squarespace (or Wix they are similar) just bare in mind the blog function is limited.

In conclusion, as your agency grows and evolves, it becomes essential to have the right tools and systems in place to streamline your operations, manage your team effectively, and ensure the success of your business.

It’s important to remember that as your agency expands, your toolset may need to evolve as well. As highlighted throughout this guide, different tools serve different purposes at different stages of your agency’s development. These tools are only valuable if you have the resource to get the most out of them. Start with the essentials that meet your current needs, and be open to exploring additional tools as your team and operations grow.