How to run creative operations properly

As more companies expect marketing activities to directly impact the bottom line, these departments have seen a rising need for clearer metrics, streamlined processes and seamless technology stacks. Creative Operations, a relatively new function within marketing and creative organizations, is tasked with finding and implementing the solutions required to address these needs.

Success in this role means priming teams to deliver high quality assets, on time, while maximizing everyone’s productivity. But striking the perfect balance between your people, processes and technology is quite the challenge.

Accept being unpopular

People are resistant to change. In many cases, the software you’re working to implement represents a threat to the status quo. To adequately prepare your team to adopt a new system, legacy systems may have to be retired, old habits have to be broken and new processes need to be created – and enforced. Getting your team to comply with these changes can be as difficult as getting a kid to eat her veggies. Your team may resist your efforts initially, but after the system is fully in place and processes are running smoothly, they will love the results.

Just do it – right

Excitement about potential results, or anxiety about underperformance, often leads executive sponsors to want to rush implementation and rollout. This can easily tempt managers to “wing it” and skip steps just to show that progress is being made. Avoid this temptation and instead focus on creating a detailed plan that documents everything that needs to be done to successfully incorporate the new platform into your organization.

Assess the needs of the organization and your users to create a project scope that you will stick to. Determine what technical specs need to be met and what resources are required. Map out how the new platform will integrate with other existing systems. And don’t forget to develop a curriculum and tools to train users. Share these plans with your superiors to show them how you’ve focused not on just doing, but doing it right.

Remember The Tortoise and The Hare

Don’t approach software implementation as if it’s a 100-yard dash. And while you certainly don’t have to pace it like a marathon, you do need to prepare the organization to go the distance. Depending on the complexity of the platform and how many workflows or people it affects, phase it in slowly. Incorporate it into processes piece by piece. As your immediate team acclimates to the tool, use lessons from their time in the system. Gather their feedback to refine processes and develop best practices that can then be applied to a broader rollout. Remember, there are no prizes for a fast start, it’s all about finishing the race.

Commit to a long-term relationship

Don’t stop communicating with with your software provider simply because the deal is closed and services are complete. You need their ongoing expertise for the platform to achieve optimal success. And they benefit from your feedback of as a highly engaged customer. It allows them to improve their product, close new deals and provide better support to their other clients.

Don’t be afraid to ask for periodic check-ins. Let them know how things are going, share your challenges and allow users to bring questions directly to them. It takes some determination to negotiate these additional benefits, but it’s worth it if you want to optimize the ROI of the platform.

Keep the information flowing

Even in the rare case that everything goes according to plan, you should continue to monitor progress, collect feedback and make any necessary adjustments. If an obstacle arises, such as IT issues or poor user adoption, address it immediately. Keep track of key metrics from the outset to ensure you’ll be able to measure the performance and impact the system had on your team. And continue to share information and resources with your users. Software platforms are always evolving. Create a system for sharing things like product updates, new features, educational tools or maintenance issues with users. As long as the system is in place, keep your finger on its pulse to ensure it’s a healthy member of your tech stack and a positive addition to your workflows.

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