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Drivers to Rethinking a Creative Team’s Make-Up

I am not breaking any news when I say that the ways in which large companies and their creative leaders must manage their creative resources has changed drastically. Remaining open to change can be hard, but articulating the need for and actually driving this change forward is much harder—even when there is a glaring need for it. To help creative leaders understand the current evolution in creative resourcing, we’ll be publishing a 3-part series in which we’ll explore:

  • Key drivers causing creative leaders to rethink the make-up of their creative workforce
  • Alternative options for building the creative workforce of the future
  • Making the Change—Implementing the future state creative workforce

  • There are many common drivers that are causing creative leaders of in-house agencies to rethink their creative team’s make-up and organization. While this rethinking is often lead by the creative leader, more recently the C-suite has been chiming in, particularly Procurement and Finance leaders. Some of the more common drivers include:
    • Evolving Department Missions
    • Evolving and Emerging Technologies
    • Globalization
    • Employment Trends
    • A Changing Creative Supply Chain 

    Evolving Department Mission
    Most corporations refine their strategic direction and/or high-level organizational structure on a regular basis. This can result in the creative department needing to adjust to a new or altered department mission on a relatively regular basis (see “Common Missions of In-House Creative Teams”). In recent years, many companies have decided to elevate the mission of the in-house agency to a more strategic, value-driving entity for the corporation. Others have specialized their agencies to focus on specific tiers of work or capabilities. As the mission of the team evolves, there is a related need for the team to be highly flexible and adaptable. This can be challenging for many in-house agencies, especially those with a heavy reliance on fulltime employees. Being adaptable means having the ability to retire and/or introduce department functions and capabilities based on the organization’s current and future state creative requirements.  It also means having a workforce model in place that is flexible enough to adapt to these changes.

    Evolving and Emerging Technology
    Specific to the creative field, tools used for digital asset management, digital publishing, web content management, marketing resource management, variable data publishing and project management have changed the ways in which we can produce and deliver creative content. This has enabled us to efficiently publish across multiple channels, as well as “do more with less” as belts were tightened across corporate America.

    Globalization
    As technology improves, language barriers lessen and cultures continue to integrate, our ability to effectively manage and deliver creative work across global markets greatly improves. This, in many cases, has lead to the expectation that in-house creative teams take on the responsibility of managing creative services globally. Others have been pressured to explore some form of “offshoring” that may or may not make sense for their organization.

    Employment Trends
    Though large corporations are showing an upward trend in building and growing their in-house agency and creative services capabilities, the hiring of these resources as full-time headcount has decreased in favor of contractors and managed services providers.  In addition, at many large organizations the administrative burdens associated with hiring, developing, retaining and terminating both full-time employees and contractors have become much greater which restricts the creative team’s ability to be flexible and adaptive over time. 

    A Changing Creative Supply Chain
    Now that vendors across the creative supply chain have become more specialized in what they do, corporations have many more options available which they can use to build and optimize their creative capabilities. These same vendors have become increasingly open to strategically partnering with complementary creative companies in the interest of finding the best solutions for the customer. This has lead to a rethinking of how companies can most effectively align skills, location, and cost with the appropriate stages of the creative and publishing process. In-house agencies are now being evaluated as one valuable component of this overall supply chain, and are being awarded work accordingly.

    Do any of the key drivers listed above resonate with your current scenario? Is your group falling behind due to changes occurring in one of these areas? Or, are the changes around you opening up a new opportunity for your team to capitalize upon? To remain competitive in the creative marketplace and consistently ensure that the in-house agency is delivering maximum value to the organization, creative leaders must stay ahead of these common industry dynamics. In-house creative leaders need to keep their eyes open to the environment around them, and routinely evaluate whether their department’s organizational make-up and workforce strategy are set up for near- and long-term success. Part of that evaluation process includes learning more about how other successful in-house agencies are structuring themselves. In part 2 of 3 of this blog series, we will explore a number of common and emerging models that in-house agencies have successfully implemented elsewhere.

    If your company and/or in-house agency is currently experiencing the need for significant change, consider emailing me to discuss ways in which we may be able to help you further. Cella’s team of seasoned management consultants and operations experts has advised and supported dozens of Fortune 500 companies through the transformation and evolution of their in-house creative capabilities, and we’d love to hear more about where you need to go.


Brendon Derr

Brendon Derr is the Vice President of Enterprise Solutions at BLR Holdings, the parent company of Cella, The BOSS Group, and Proposal Development Consultants (“PDC”). In his 10+ years with the BLR family of companies, Brendon has worked with hundreds of leading corporations across the country to optimize their investments in marketing, creative and proposal resources through a complementary suite of staffing, management consulting and managed services solutions.

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