Slope Blog

How to Combat the Most Common Challenges Faced in Creative Operations

[fa icon="calendar"] 9/4/18 9:39 AM / by Hassaan Bey

The drive from stakeholders for more content in less time puts creative managers in a tough space that presents multiple challenges. Thriving businesses are run on the inspired content that creative departments produce; however, individuals outside of the creative department oftentimes don’t fully grasp all the effort it takes to build these creative masterpieces.




External factors such as administrative requirements and unclear creative briefs interrupt internal creative processes and can hinder a team from promptly meeting deadlines. With a range of obstacles to work around when effectively managing a creative team, there are six main challenges in creative operations that can be broken down and resolved with a bit of proper planning.

The 6 Major Challenges Creative Operations Managers Encounter

Creative teams are changing rapidly as the distribution channels become more and more crowded. A well-oiled creative team can produce content that will help a business’s voice cut through the noise of oversaturated spaces. However, according to this 2018 study, there are a set of common problems affecting even the most accomplished creative team:

  1. A lack of collaboration across departments leading to little understanding of the creative process
  2. No feedback structure put into place to speed up the approval process
  3. Creative briefs that stall or diminish creative ingenuity
  4. Administrative/repetitive tasks bog down productivity rates
  5. Lack of structure leads to confusion during the creative process
  6. With no collected data, creative departments are unable to prove their worth

These problems are accounted for and solved with a series of solutions that can ultimately cause substantial upticks in creative production output.

Increase collaborative efforts to minimize misunderstanding of the creative process

Collaboration and communication are both major challenges often faced by creative teams. Internally, it stems from the different physical locations and different stages of the creative process with which individuals mostly work. Eternally, it comes from stakeholders being unfamiliar with the creative process. This results in misinterpretations and outcomes that are far from what was originally envisioned.

Frustration can arise for both marketers and creatives when there is insufficient collaboration throughout the creative process, which can have a detrimental effect on creative output.

By implementing tools that let you manage your entire process in one place, creative managers can solve the issues brought on by the fragmentation of the creative process.

Develop a system for clear, actionable feedback

Feedback is an important part of the creative process and has a direct correlation to the outcome of a particular creative project. Without an easily operable system put into place that allows for simple input exchange and edit requests, you’re stuck using the old-fashioned way of long-distance collaboration - a strand of electronic breadcrumbs in the form of emails and attachments.

It’s much easier for the marketers and creatives to have a single solution for communication and clear expectations for feedback. Being on the same page regarding who, what, when, and where to ask for or submit feedback to can ultimately help projects meet their qualitative expectations.

Eliminate transactional mentalities by reexamining the creative brief

A creative brief is not a checklist but rather a launchpad for a campaign. It’s essential to a good creative output. Without a clear vision of the desired outcome, a creative team will be fumbling around in the dark with no idea which direction is the correct one.

Studies have shown that creative teams consistently are faced with a scarcity of necessary information that is required to begin the project. With increased production demands and creative briefs that are quite literally brief, it can be easy for a creative team to develop a transactional mindset towards the content production process in order to meet deadlines.

The problem with a transactional mindset is that campaigns are not soda cans from a vending machine. This will produce bland ideations that create little success for the business in the long term. Understanding the difference between a creative brief and a project plan is key to addressing both practical and aesthetic concerns when planning your next project.

Reduce administrative tasks and implement automation for increased output

In a world as hectic as today, creatives are hindered by distractions and extra tasks necessary to get ahead that are only remotely related to creating content. Minimizing administrative tasks, which take up a staggering percentage of creative professionals’ time that should be spent on creating, will help to ramp up production rates of the creative team.

Creative operations need to be extremely efficient due to the disproportionate ratio of tasks to creatives, who generally operate in a small team. Using management tools can help to automate tasks that must be regularly completed and give creatives their time back so that they can turn their attention to being creative.

Create structure and systems that optimize production

Without structure, there is a wealth of confusion that can damage the creative process and negatively affect production.

An effective structure for a creative team will:

  • Not distract from the creative process
  • Take minimal time out of a creatives day
  • Be optimized to meet the needs of both creatives and stakeholders
  • Remain consistent to decrease the chance of confusion

Something as simple as taking advantage of marketing project templates help alleviate the pain points placed on creatives and their managers overwhelmed with tasks. Having systems and a structure in place allows for more freedom to create and less time spent worrying about a deadline.

Delegating the responsibility of operations manager to a single person creates an environment in which creatives are doing what creatives do best while the stress of administration is placed on an individual whose responsibility centers around meeting project parameters.

Measure the data within the creative production process to ultimately boost capacity

Businesses have finally come to understand that creative storytelling is integral for success. With creative teams being a necessary part of a marketing department, management needs a way to measure where money should be best invested. To do this, they need data gathered from their internal team.

Collecting data falls on the shoulders of the creative leader, who must justify the existence of their team and demonstrate the value of their work through data.

As management personnel evaluate internal creative departments, they balance between intrusions and oversights. Creative production managers want insights into the creative production processes to analyze how they can continually achieve their two main goals as managers:

  1. To increase the number of creative projects being completed while shrinking time constraints.
  2. To complete all creative projects within the designated deadline.

With these two goals in mind, creative production managers can use data-driven goals to show the worth of the creative team.

Handling creative production challenges without interfering with the creative process

Creative managers must balance structure with the creative process, an area not known for its alignment to data-driven thinking. With a focus on implementing efficiency tools that improve understanding between departments without interfering with the creative process, creative operations managers can effectively meet rising production expectations.

Hassaan Bey

Written by Hassaan Bey

Hassaan is the Creative Manager at Slope. He's worked with brands on hundreds of campaigns and projects to help tell their story.