Last week we traveled to Boston, Columbus, and Dallas to meet with Creative Operations professionals, and discuss & share creative operations strategies, tactics, and best practices over breakfast.
Even without a set agenda we've found that most of the discussions center around the same four topics - People, Process, Technology, and Metrics.
We'll take a deeper dive into each of these areas in the coming weeks but here are the key takeaways from our discussions last week.
1. What Drives the Need for Creative Operations?
We are seeing more organizations researching information about Creative Operations as the way we market and engage with our customers has changed, and so has Marketing's needs with respect to creative work.
The 3 key things we've seen drive the need for Creative Operations is Volume of assets, Velocity of assets, and Variety of assets.
Organizations that have a well established Creative Ops team in place are able to scale up and down more easily as marketing adopts new ways of reaching and engaging customers, and the volume, velocity, and variety of assets needed to support their efforts changes.
2. Process is Key
Process, while being the most important part of great creative operations, is also the hardest. Process is what we like to call the operating system of creative ops - Process defines what needs to be done, who needs to do it, by when, and how.
The questions we've heard most often related to process are:
- Where do I start?
- How do I get buy-in from creatives? They hate process!
- I implemented process but nobody follows it, how do I get them to start?
- Do I align with other business units like Marketing?
While there is no one answer to any of these, we also heard how organizations have and are successfully bringing process to what has otherwise traditionally been called "living in chaos".
3. Metrics Matter
Metrics matter. Period. Without them, you're not really doing Creative Operations. While most of our guests see the value in metrics, they often don't know where to start or what to measure.
What we learned from those that are further along with building out their creative operations practice (and this rings true for many of our customers as well) is:
- You need to start measuring the things that cause people the most pain. Find out what matters to creatives, reviewers, and stakeholders and start measuring against those things. Some examples include: Time waiting for feedback, number of iterations, cost per asset, etc...
- Measuring soft metrics like team satisfaction, happiness levels, request types, etc... are just as important to measure as the hard metrics.
- You don't need fancy tools to get started. Even capturing data manually into a spreadsheet is a great start. Once you've defined what metrics matter most, you can find tools and more automated ways to capture data and present it in dashboards.
Process and metrics go hand in hand - your process will help define your metrics, and metrics will help you continuously optimize your process.
4. Technology Isn't the Answer
While it may seem odd for a technology company to say this - when it comes to successful Creative Operations, technology is simply not the answer. For organizations that are further along with their creative operations practice, technology came almost as an afterthought.
For organizations who are focused on technology first, some key takeaways were:
- Technology is simply an enabler. You need a well defined process & metrics first.
- Once you've defined your process or committed to it, look for tools and technologies that support the process and enable you to optimize it.
- Once you have an understanding of the metrics that matter to you, look for tools that help you gather the data you need, and turn that data into KPI's and ways to identify opportunities to get better.
The smartest organizations, and the ones that we've seen be the most successful at creative operations are the ones who focused first on defining and developing their process and metrics, then found tools to help them optimize and measure.
5. Borrow from Other Fields & Industries
Really successful creative operations professionals are adopting methodologies and strategies from other fields and industries. For Creative Operations, this has primarily been:
- Borrowing supply chain management tactics from the manufacturing industry to find ways to optimize creative production. While creative work isn't traditionally a "production line" there is definite value in learning from how manufacturers manage their supply chain and production processes.
- Borrowing from the software development field, organizations can apply agile methodologies to increase productivity and give other lines of business more clarity on creative production capacity. One example is applying a points value system to different types of creative work - for example, a 20 second video = 20 points, a banner ad = 5 points, etc... Then, providing Marketing with a monthly balance of 200 points that can be used.
- Applying some of the above strategies helps improve productivity, creates transparency for other lines of business, and helps prevent burnout within the creative department.
As mentioned above, we'll be taking a deeper dive into these topics on the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for updates, or subscribe to our blog to make sure you don't miss anything.
We'd love to hear what else organizations are doing to drive more efficiencies within their creative production teams - help us keep the conversation going by joining us on the Creative Operations Hub.