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Client Story: How Grizzle Documented Processes, Visualized Capacity, and Balanced Workloads with Our ClickUp System

Jakub "Kuba" Grajcar is the Content Marketing Manager at ZenPilot. His obsessions include interviewing smart people; productivity methods; project management; and playing bass in a progressive metal band.

Good news: it's time for your agency to grow.

You've won the clients and you've delivered good work for them using a mix of freelance talent and a few key in-house hires.

Now, you want to scale your in-house structure to take things to the next level.

What's the first problem to solve to get there?

Well, if you're smart like Tom Whatley, CEO of B2B content agency Grizzle...'ll know that the first piece is to look at your operations.

Because here's the bad news:

You're about to have more people, more projects, more services—and more moving parts to manage than ever before.

Without the right work management system in place, your business results—and your work-life balance—might collapse under the load.

So before you scale to the next level, you'll have to solve the following smaller problems:

  • How will you ensure work doesn't slip through the gaps?

  • How will you document the process—and how will you find the time to do it?

  • How will you visualize your team's workload, to make informed decisions based on that data?

  • How will you give team members the right amount of work without bombarding them?

  • And finally... Once you put your new project management system in place, how will you make sure team members will use it, and use it in a way that gives you data you can trust?

Tom managed to resolve all these issues and more—using ClickUp as his PM platform, and with support from ZenPilot to set it up right for his business, document Grizzle's processes, and train Tom's team on the best project management habits.

Watch Tom's full ZenPilot story here (including his #1 tip for effective operations, which is not included in this article):

Or read on for a written summary of the best bits.


Quick summary

Before we jump into Tom's full story, here's a summary for those of you who have a call starting in 2 minutes:

Grizzle's challenges:

  • Grizzle was using a patchwork of spreadsheets, Airtable, and Asana for operations which wasn't working well
  • Things were falling through the cracks and it was hard to manage team capacity
  • Grizzle tried ClickUp on their own based on ZenPilot's content but realized they were only 60% of the way there
  • They needed expert help to build a solid foundation to support their next stage of growth

Solutions provided by ZenPilot:

  • Guided Grizzle through setting up ClickUp properly based on the ZenPilot model
  • Helped document Grizzle's processes and set up templates in ClickUp
  • Provided a structured implementation process and set expectations about the work involved
  • Offered expert advice to fill in the gaps and get Grizzle's ClickUp from 60% to 80-90% optimized


  • Much better visibility into what's happening across the agency via time logging data and workload views
  • Smoother client onboarding processes
  • Easier to onboard new team members, especially freelancers, with well-structured processes
  • Able to see team capacity and assign work in a balanced way without overloading people
  • Processes documented and a framework in place for continuous improvement
  • Overall a strong operational foundation to support Grizzle's growth in 2024 and beyond

Now, let's get into the details!


Meet Tom Whatley, CEO at Grizzle

Let's start by introducing Tom and his agency, Grizzle.

Grizzle is a content and SEO agency specializing in serving B2B companies—including B2B SaaS as well as service-based companies.

Tom Whatley is the agency's founder & CEO.

The trajectory of the company, in Tom's words:

"We've been going since 2016. Started as a digital PR agency of sorts, helping our clients get featured in other blogs and publications and connect with influencers and all that jazz—and slowly evolved into an end-to-end content and SEO service."

Grizzle's services include developing content strategies, topic ideation, keyword research, and content execution. They have a small in-house team of five, plus around a dozen freelancers.

Their plans for the near future involve scaling and building out an in-house team—which is part of the reason behind having a closer look at their operations to support the new scale.

"This year, we want to put our foot on the gas and build an in-house team—go from being a boutique agency, as some might call us, to a slightly larger operation, expanding to new services, perhaps even new verticals."


From Spreadsheets to ClickUp to ZenPilot: Grizzle's Operational Journey

I asked Tom to share Grizzle's story from the moment they started to look into their operations to working with ZenPilot. Tom outlines their journey:

"I knew [operations] was going to be pretty important when I was moving from just me and some freelancers to in-house. And the before state went through several iterations.

"First, it was spreadsheets. Of course it was, right? MVP, you're just starting—it's got to be scrappy."

They then moved to Airtable for data management and client portals, but it lacked project management capabilities. Combining Airtable with Asana still presented issues.

"It was still breaking, things were still falling through the gaps. It was really difficult to manage resources as well—how at capacity each team member is at, that kind of thing. Again, important when you start hiring people in-house."

Discovering ClickUp—and giving it a second chance with a DIY ZenPilot System

Tom and his team had previously tried ClickUp, but couldn't set it up in a way that would suit their needs—a story we hear frequently from clients.

But after a while, the Grizzle crew found some of our articles on this here blog, and ClickUp started to click for them.

"It made a lot of sense, right? Because you can store documentation on there for processes, the way that dependencies work, the workload view, all that kind of thing."

Grizzle migrated to ClickUp and got to work implementing the ZenPilot System in a DIY fashion, all based on our publicly available materials.

It took some doing, but it was worth it.

"We decided to slowly move over to [ClickUp] using the ZenPilot model as our baseline. And that took a while to get over, because it was just a handful of us making that transition.

But once it was done, it felt a lot smoother."

Deciding to work with ZenPilot: "I only have so much time"

After a few months with their own ClickUp implementation based on the ZenPilot model, Tom realized they needed expert help to take things to the next level.

"A month or two or three passed and we realized that we could still be doing so much better. There's something not quite right here. There are certain things that are slipping through the gaps. I only have so much time."

Given that it was the ZenPilot System that got them this far, it was a natural step for Tom to reach out to us.

After going through our initial consultation (which you can book for free here) and speaking with Kevin from our team, it was clear for Tom that there was room for a collaboration.

"The process that Kevin outlined from start to finish, it just seemed like a breath of fresh air. Like it was filling in all of the gaps of the questions that I knew that we had in order to take this nascent dream world to actually becoming a reality."


Why Grizzle Chose to Shift From a DIY Setup to Working with ZenPilot

Although Grizzle initially went the DIY route with ClickUp based on ZenPilot's content, they ultimately decided to work directly with the ZenPilot team. Tom explains why:

"I think it was just a sense of expertise and that we were only, you know, 60% of the way there. And if we wanted to set a good foundation to get to where we wanted to go, then we needed to get to at least 80%. It would just be so much more efficient just to let the people, the experts who created this model in the first place, get us from 60% to 80% or 90%."

"We wanted to set the foundation for our next stage of growth"

The stakes were high, as this was a critical moment in Grizzle's growth. Without the right processes and work structure in place, the whole system could have collapsed under the load of new client work.

And it was important to do this work upfront, as working on scaling systems in the midst of client delivery could have been too much for the team to handle.

"It was important because we wanted to set the foundation for our next stage of growth. We didn't want to start onboarding a bunch of clients, and then realize that we needed it and not be able to commit the time and the effort required to do it right."


The Benefits of Working with ZenPilot—and the Work Involved

Working with ZenPilot can have a huge positive impact on your business—but you won't reap these benefits if you don't also put in the work yourself. (It's like going to the gym with a personal trainer, is how we sometimes frame it.)

Tom expanded on both the benefits and the work involved in the process.

ZenPilot provided guidance and helped set expectations

Tom mentioned the implementation process with ZenPilot was well structured and gave shoutout to his "killer team" of ZenPilot coaches Maggie and Nicole who supported him.

(Watch my interview with Maggie about her work with ZenPilot clients: How smart agencies go beyond ClickUp to fix all of their operations)

But he also mentioned that the expectation setting piece was key, and helped him understand the work involved in improving operations.tom-whatley-quote-expectations-hard-work

"It was a mixture of being guided through all of those steps, but also the expectations at the beginning that said: this is going to be work.

"We're going to have to roll up our sleeves and really get into this.

"It was great because it set our expectations and we knew that we were going to have honest conversations with each other."

Some tough love was also involved.

"What was very apparent is: we're not going to get told what we want to hear. If something that we're doing sucks, then we're going to get told that it sucks."

Building Grizzle's system was a collaborative effort—an enjoyable mix

Tom mentioned that their previous DIY ClickUp efforts based on the ZenPilot System did not go to waste.

"I think the fact that we had a lot of the groundwork set already made it a little bit easier for us, or easier than it could have been. There was a lot of things [where we said]: okay, we're already doing that."

At the same time, there was huge value in filling in the gaps.

"The things that we didn't have in place, just being walked through how to do it, having it all set up for us where applicable, you know, some things we had to do ourselves, which comes with the territory of these kinds of things...

"That kind of collaborative process was a breath of fresh air."

Which part of the process was 'the hard part'? (and what helped solve it)

Tom shared some of the more challenging aspects of implementing the ZenPilot system:

"I think for lack of a better word, it's compliance, right? Like I said, we work with a lot of freelancers and most of them kind of get it, luckily. So there were elements like time logging... communicating why we're doing certain things, why we need communication in ClickUp—that was a longer process than expected."

Tom mentioned the role of the ClickUp Champion was helpful here.

"I think it's just human nature and it's part of the process. And I think it's just a matter of having those reminders in place, which is why that concept of the ClickUp Champion is quite important. Having someone who's not militantly there breathing down your neck, but looking at the data, looking at: where are things in the red? Where is time not being tracked? That kind of thing."

But Tom notes that ZenPilot's team helped reinforce the importance of these practices. "It was good to have some guidance going through that process in a structured way," he says.tom-whatley-quote-visibility-macro-level


What Grizzle Gained by Working with ZenPilot

When asked about the impact of working with ZenPilot, Tom pointed to a variety of improvements across Grizzle's operations:

  • Visibility. "[We have] visibility into a lot of things that are happening within the agency that we may not necessarily have had before, both through time logging data, as well as workload capacities across the team, that high level macro view." He added, "that's not something that we got in Asana or Airtable back in the day, that kind of visibility of how utilized our people are."

  • Smoother client onboarding. "The onboarding processes for our clients—they were pretty smooth, but they could have been better. Now they are far better."

  • Onboarding new team members got easier—especially for freelancers. "[We have] a structured process for them to come onboard, get used to the processes without getting in their way too much. We always get compliments from our freelancers—how well structured our processes are from start to finish. That's something that they really appreciate."

  • Having a framework for continuous improvement. "It's not a one and done thing. We haven't reached this utopia and now we can all sit back and relax. But it's given us a compass for when we do need to improve upon things and iterate—we know exactly how to do it and manage our time around it."

  • Fully leveraging ClickUp's workload view—especially for in-house team members. "For each team member, you can set the number of daily hours—and then within each day, you see at what capacity they're at. So let's say Claudia works seven hours on a Monday and right now she's at three hours capacity—she's underutilized on a given week. So we know that, okay, we perhaps need to reallocate some client tasks to Claudia or maybe put her to work in other areas."

  • Forecasting. "When you assign specific tasks and assign clients you can quickly see: how frequently should we give a certain team member certain projects? Or how many clients can an account manager realistically handle?"

  • Predictability. "What we do on a monthly basis is pretty consistent. For a given client, we might create 10 pieces of content every single month. And so we now know we need X amount of writers and X amount of editors to handle that."

  • Intel to assign work in a balanced way. "We can basically look at, okay, this is how long it takes to edit a given piece of content of this format and this format. How can we assign our editors and writers to those clients without bombarding them?"

  • A culture of calm productivity. "What you don't want is that green bar that visualizes capacity to go into the red. No one wants to be overloaded. And so it just allows us to create a culture of: we're not burning our people out. Focusing on quality while also making sure everybody is assigned the right amount of work.

Putting it all together, Tom emphasized that the ZenPilot System will be key to Grizzle's growth this year.

"It's a mixture of those things, right? It's the processes, it's the visibility, and it's the platform to springboard us forward as we begin to grow in 2024 and beyond."


Tom's Advice for Those Considering Working with ZenPilot

For agency owners on the fence about booking a call with ZenPilot, Tom offers this advice:

"I would say first of all, book the call because it's enlightening. Any other question, any question that might be unanswered through the website or through [ZenPilot's] content, I found to be very quickly addressed, which helped seal the deal for us personally.

"But also, strap in to do a fair amount of work. This isn't working with an agency or consultancy where you just go through an onboarding process and they do it all for you. And rightly so, right? This is the baseline, it's the foundation, it's the engine of your business. You've got to be involved.

"But after the two-three months, once that period is over, everything is just so much better. It's the only way I can describe it."

Can't imagine a better note to end on.


Be Like Tom and Solve Your Project Management Gaps With ZenPilot

To learn more about Tom and Grizzle, visit or connect with Tom on LinkedIn.

Are you looking to set up your agency to scale to the next level?

Whether your next milestone is 10 FTEs or 50, we know the optimal ClickUp setup (and timeless project management practices) to help you build efficient, productive, and healthy workflows.

In short, we can lead you through the last project management implementation you'll ever need.

We're ZenPilot: ClickUp's #1 Solutions Partner with over 2,700+ successful agency operation makeovers under our belt.

Ready to meet our team—so you can get a full diagnosis of the gaps in your operations that might set you back as you scale? Book a call with our team here.

If, like Tom, you'd prefer to test drive the ZenPilot System first, check out our Resources section that will help you set up a DIY ClickUp system.

Thanks for tuning in to Tom's story. For more ZenPilot stories and guides, feel free to stay in touch with me on LinkedIn—and I'll see you in the next one!

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