Slope Blog

How to Get Started with Creative Operations

[fa icon="calendar"] 8/29/18 8:52 AM / by Hassaan Bey

Managing a creative team requires incorporating data-driven goals into a process that naturally has a loose structure. Despite the difficulties that arise when implementing creative operations practices while managing a creative team, doing so helps streamline the production of content.




Creating a more formalized structure also allows you to collect data that you can use to argue the importance of having a creative team. In this article, we’ll go over how you can get started organizing your creative team.

What exactly is Creative Operations?

Creative Operations is an emerging role that has been developing for the past six years. It serves as a guardian to the creative process that brings structure and metrics to a department based on a traditionally fluid process.

A creative operations manager analyzes the creative process and treats it as one would a supply-chain. Their goal is to optimize flow and increase output.

As a growing field, over two thousand professionals are now boasting the title of creative production manager, whereas a decade ago there were only a handful of people implementing these ideas into their creative departments.

Why is Creative Operations important for the success of creative teams?

Confusion might arise for those who misunderstand the differences between a creative director and a creative operations manager.

With a creative operations manager on staff, a creative director gets to relinquish the stressors of handling project management tasks. This allows for the creative director to focus his attention on supporting and directing the creative team, ultimately resulting in a smoother and more fruitful creative process.

The Benefits of Creative Operations:

  • A creative director can focus their attention on the creative team.
  • Improvement in the creative process for more timely results.
  • Appeasing marketers and creatives who at times feel at odds with one another.
  • Process improvements due to effectively analyzing metrics.

Once there is a clear understanding of what creative operations does and how its existence leads to a direct correlation to the success of creative teams, it’s time to put together the steps of establishing a creative operations system for your team.

How do I get started building out creative operations?

A few steps can be taken to begin implementing a creative operations structure into the creative team that you are managing.

1. Identify Key Roles and Their Responsibilities

There are four key roles in the creative department when implementing creative operations - all of which should report to the creative operations manager, sometimes referred to as the creative operations director:

  1. Client Manager
  2. Traffic Manager
  3. Production Manager
  4. DAM Manager

Each role takes on responsibilities that directly relate to creative operations and assisting the creative operations manager in reaching the ultimate goal of improving output.

2. Assess Needed Skills and Abilities of a Creative Operations Manager

When bringing someone on to fill the role of a creative operations manager, you are looking for a specific skill-set and personality. Those who work well in creative operations are often equally balanced between right and left brain thinking.

Often times, creative operations managers began as a creative. They might have a passion for brainstorming and creating campaigns but will also balance that with a process driven personality.

3. Research and Implement Tools and Technology to Improve the Creative Process

Once you have identified key roles and assessed skills and abilities, attention can be focused on the tools that will make the creative process easier to navigate. Thanks to technology, we have plenty of options that can help us optimize our creative processes and improve the work life of our creative teams.

Common creative operations tools include:

  • Project Management
  • Collaboration
  • Review and Approval
  • DAM Systems

    4. Develop a Metric System to Apply to the Output of the Creative Team

Before creative operations, creative teams had a difficult time gathering metrics. With the establishment of metrics that can gauge the level of success and output of a creative team, creative operations managers are able to optimize output while also proving the worth of the creative team.

Slope further covers how to use metrics to determine work success versus work failure in a blog that pinpoints specific metrics creative teams need to measure.

What are the best practices of Creative Operations?

Creative operations takes a focus on the metrics behind creative processes. This means that quantitative results are being collected from the work of the creative team. In order to accomplish this, there are a few areas of creative operations best practices.

Establish Benchmarks

Benchmarks illustrate a general consensus of what is presented to the creative team during a normal creative process. This area takes a focus on Key Productivity Metrics.

This examines areas such as how many products are received, how many revisions are given, and the overall length of the project lifecycle.

Develop Work Requests

By creating work request forms, the creative team can more accurately tailor projects to clients. Alongside using request forms for communication, the creative department should develop a single clear request process that is used universally across projects.

Utilize Project Management

Use a calendar to track deadlines and keep tasks balanced and organized. Project management software can be used to simplify the creative process and consolidate the entire creative process onto one platform

Transparent Review & Approval

The goal is to make the review process easier and take steps to understand any delays in receiving reviews from stakeholders. Help stakeholders to understand the expectations of the review process to avoiding conflict and cut back on confusing feedback.

The addition of a Creative Operations Manager is a welcome improvement to the creative process

Creative operations brings structure and metrics to the creative process, which can increase output and make the creative department appear more favorable in the eyes of the company. By utilizing a creative operations manager, creative teams can pass off project management tasks and focus on the creative elements they are making which will not only increase output but also increase quality of work produced.

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.