The Complete Creative Operations Guide
Introducing Creative Operations: The Future Is Now
Lack of Creative Operations – The Problem: In our ever-changing creative landscape, managing creative work, people, and processes is becoming increasingly complicated. Add ever-increasing workloads coupled with increased demand for video, interactive, and social content. What do you get?
The Result: Teams are barely coping with the changes. A staggering 75% of marketing and creative teams have restructured in the past 12 months. They did so to streamline their operations and become more strategic. And yet, we repeatedly find that wasted time, employee burnout, and revisions of previous work still happen regularly. What is more, 61% of teams still report that restructuring has not improved their stakeholder communication.
The Solution: If you wish to improve your content outcomes, you need to harness your creativity. A Creative Operations platform helps you and your organization’s creative and marketing teams excel in your content efforts by structuring and automating the boring stuff. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let us define what we mean by the term ‘Creative Operations‘.
What Do We Mean by the Term ‘Creative Operations?’
Creative Operations’ refers to a discipline that connects a creative team to the business partners they serve. In practice, it is the centralized hub for your organization. The hub that all departments can refer to during every stage of the creative process. A Creative Operations platform includes processes that support both the creative and marketing teams and their stakeholders. Its goal is to improve the ability of teams to do the work that drives growth. A Creative Operations Platform also meets business needs like predictable timelines, efficient use of resources, and brand protection.
Creative Operations professionals juggle two worlds, with expertise in both creative and business strategy. As a result, their work permeates the entire Creative Lifecycle. The Creative Lifecycle includes Creative Briefing, Project Management, Asset Storage, Asset Distribution, Resource Management, and Online Proofing. Now that we have defined what creative operations is, let us move on to what it is about.
The 4 Pillars of Creative Operations
Creative Operations is about optimizing output to deliver better content outcomes by optimizing the collaboration between creative and marketing teams and their stakeholders. Follow an integrated approach that includes the four pillars of Creative Operations, and you will successfully streamline your work across the board. This is how you can capture and measure the impact of your team’s creative work. Then, by imbuing their creative work with the data that is fed into a Creative Operations platform, you get a 360 overview of your organization’s operations – finally! Here are the four pillars that form and inform your future success:
Pillar 1. Creation Management
The idea here is to focus on and follow a collaborative approach to creative projects from the very beginning. Get your team together and have them express their strongest and wildest content ideas. Listen carefully and attentively. Let their input guide you both creatively and in how you lay out the project. Use Creative Briefs to capture their great content ideas. Then, establish and assign project resources to manage tasks and time.
Pillar 2. Universal Approval
This pillar spans throughout the entire Creative Lifecycle. Providing feedback and approving work are two critical aspects to a project’s success. This is especially true when you tackle major project milestones such as reviewing assets, creating an audit trail for feedback, and ensuring your templates look consistent. The universal approval pillar is when the focus shifts to your stakeholders and the feedback they provide.
Pillar 3. Creative Automation
This next pillar recognizes the increasing importance of automating repetitive tasks. As the demand for creative assets increases, your team faces an ever-expanding list of tasks. And then we have this universal truth to contend with – the fact that repetition is the best-known killer of creativity. Knowing all this, the best way forward is to automate all tasks that subtract from the creative process. Use templates to liberate your team from boring, repetitive drudgery and free them to focus on more exciting work that truly challenges them.
Pillar 4. Asset Management
The final pillar of Creative Operations focuses on the need to streamline how you share assets. It is key to educate your stakeholders on distributing assets properly and at the right time. And that you are there to guide them when necessary. Asset management done correctly means that the right assets have been appropriately tagged, can easily be found and used by the right stakeholders, and the most up-to-date versions are always the ones used.
What Is the Current State of Your Team’s Operations?
You must first identify your team’s key areas of improvement so you know which Creative Operations pillars will benefit you most. Try following the next few steps to gather all necessary feedback as quickly as possible.
Step 1: Gather Your Team
Now you know what Creative Operations is all about, it is important that you use this next step to identify your team’s structure and processes. We define processes here as the integral decisions and actions that bring your team and organization the most value. Start by gathering your team together and asking them some key questions. The goal here is to understand how information flows through your team and where dependencies lie. Do not simply create an overview of how your team functions. Aim for the extra mile and deep dive with them into every granularity of their day-to-day. The deeper you get, the better it will be for everyone involved.
Step 2: Ask the Right Questions
What questions should you ask them? And where do you start? This is one of those conversations where the beginning and end do not matter – it is truly the journey that you must examine carefully. Make small talk about your team’s favorite activities and the difficult or unrewarding tasks that drive them crazy. Listen for the processes governing them. As soon as they mention another team member, note it, and go to them next to determine the collaboration’s nature and extent. Rinse and repeat. Soon, your team members’ interdependence on one another will become clear as day.
Step 3: Identify Your Team’s Issues
Proceed to add everything to a flowchart and let your team’s patterns speak for themselves. Next to all the things they do right there should be a few processes that could do with some improvements. Look out for signs of internal communication breakdowns, and identify messy request intake processes. Then, gauge your team’s size relative to their workload. Where in the information journey do you find people struggling the most? Can you spot any instances of double work? Are there any team members who are dealing with very tight deadlines?
Step 4: Measure the Company-Wide Impact
Once you have gathered what you need it is time to track the impact of your team’s processes on the organization. What is the state of cross-departmental communications? Are other departments using your team’s creative work as it was intended? And can your stakeholders access the assets they need easily? Every organization struggles on at least some of these fronts. And that is okay. In this next section, we wish to convey why we think adopting Creative Operations is paramount to your team’s success.
7 Reasons Why Using Creative Operations Is Crucial to Everyone’s Success
In 2023, securing a standardized and optimal workflow for your team has become a necessity. With the ever-changing demands and needs from creative and marketing professionals, adopting a Creative Operations mindset is crucial to your team’s continued success. Here are the benefits of doing so:
1. You Standardize Processes to Benefit Your Team and Organization
The single most important benefit of using a Creative Operations platform is the standardization it brings. When you have your processes defined that well, your operations are bound to run smoother. And everyone benefits from it. Your team is more productive, and they run into fewer issues. That leads to less frustration, so your team can spend more time being creative. With standardized processes in place, your internal and external stakeholders can easily look for and request creative assets. Using tools that guide them through the request process, they can finally send complete requests that your creative team can make sense of and execute.
2. You Accelerate Your Processes
All time not spent on faulty processes, delays, and miscommunication is time saved. The more bottlenecks you remove, the smoother the creation process goes for your team. And the smoother the process is, the quicker your team can produce magnificent work. Simple, right? Well, it can be when you allow a Creative Operations platform to take care of bottlenecks for you. Your team yields creative work faster and your organization’s creative capacity can improve!
3. You Improve How People in Your Organization Communicate
And you significantly reduce the amount of project time your organization wastes because of miscommunication. Say goodbye to setting and forgetting projects and failing to provide or receive access and resources. Avoid prolonged feedback cycles by giving and receiving better quality feedback. Set automatic reminders for key stakeholders to receive their input in a timely manner. And reduce internal conflict, reworks, and overdue work with a progress tracking system built to prevent bottlenecks.
4. You Increase How Often People in Your Organization Collaborate
Or you ignite a culture of collaboration within it for the first time. Either way, the more collaborative the approach of your organization is, the better the content results will be. Your people can easily give each other feedback and support each other’s efforts in every step of your project’s life. And the data agrees – Salesforce reports that 86% of executives agree that ineffective collaboration causes major failures. So, make the choice to be on the winning side – use Creative Operations to collaborate more!
5. You Help Your Customers Communicate Their Needs to You
By adopting a Creative Operations platform, you can create the right content request processes for internal and external use. This is also how you can ensure that you have captured all the creative nuances of your customer’s request. By giving them the right tools that will allow for a comprehensive feedback cycle, your team and customers can finally get to the very granular details of every facet of their request. This is what we call a win-win!
6. You Help Your Customers Collaborate More Effectively
The Creative Operations mindset is about having the right processes for internal and external stakeholders. Help your customers benefit greatly from streamlining their communication and collaboration channels. Imagine they tell you they completed a project with another client without running into any misunderstandings or delays. Their work got delivered on time. At any point, constructive feedback made it to the right people. Assets took way less time to create through custom templates. And their project outcomes are delivered to their stakeholders just like that.
7. You Can Make the Best Future Decisions Using the Right Metrics
One of the benefits of adopting a Creative Operations platform is the access to a sea of data to inform your future decisions. A few examples of metrics to track may include volume of deliverables shared, # of requests completed on time, and increase/decrease of overall project duration, to name but a few. You can now see what content works and what does not and share that feedback with your team. By having them regularly incorporate actionable feedback to their creative processes, you kill two birds with one stone. Firstly, you give your creative or marketing team what they need the most and get the least of – constructive feedback. And then, you are also helping them maximize the quality of their creative output by making better, data-supported creative decisions.
How Different Industries Leverage Creative Operations for Better Results
Now that you know the benefits that come with using Creative Operations, we want to demonstrate how this is made possible. More industries are adapting Creative Operations to streamline their processes and meet their creative needs. When we talk about creative assets, many people are likely to think about the film and entertainment industry. We all instantly associate films, TV shows and podcasts with the need for creative expression. However, we are here to tell you that creativity, and creative expression and work can be found in all places.
Our following examples are taken from educational institutions, non-profits, banking institutions, retail giants, and more. They are some of the industries in which creative work is, and will continue to be, in high demand. Read the following list and discover how multiple industries decrease delivery times and achieve better outcomes:
1. Higher Education
Leaders and other key-position holders in higher education worldwide are embracing strategic planning as a way to provide the sector with much-needed innovation and reinvention, reports Forbes. At the same time, professors and student organizations are also making steps towards more strategic approaches in sharing course materials, such as research papers, books, videos, photos, and knowledge. And they do so with Creative Operations tools that help them champion changes and organize the projects necessary to implement them.
They find that such tools are the only ones easy to configure and that they provide them with ‘custom-enough’ capabilities. After all, making decisions that affect the education sector is notoriously challenging. Change is often met with protest, resistance, and criticisms flying right and left from the sector itself and the general public. Creative Operations solutions have built-in review and approval processes to help mitigate some of the challenges. A notable highlight here is the ability to set feedback due-by dates and automate reminders, so asset approvals no longer take forever to complete.
2. US and EU Healthcare Systems
The healthcare system in the US is comprised of private companies who own several regional hospitals in multiple areas. Each hospital needs to create and distribute branded assets for medical documents and forms, letterheads, notepads, logos – you name it. And they must distribute these and other low-effort assets often – and quickly. Time is of the essence in the healthcare industry – and this is where a Creative Operations platform comes to the rescue.
By using a review and approval tool, they can rapidly create, customize, and distribute templates for branded and non-branded collateral. Time saved is time that can be dedicated to those in need of medical assistance.
2.1 EU Healthcare
In the EU, hospitals operate under complicated hybrid models of private and state governance, as outlined on the Union’s website. Government oversight and corporate reach differ between member states, and there are pan-European guidelines that define a common framework of minimum legal requirements among them. Having similar asset creation needs with their US counterparts, most EU hospitals incorporate state branding – as opposed to private branding – to their collateral.
2.2 US Healthcare
US teams need to ensure compliance with HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and EU teams operate within an even tighter legal framework. EU healthcare organizations can, therefore, greatly benefit from using a platform that streamlines communication and collaboration with the organizations that preside over them. Plus, doing so helps them remain compliant – requirements necessary for them to keep receiving essential funding. A Creative Operations platform ensures assets that carry heavy medical and financial importance are created and distributed with due diligence and care.
Retail is an industry with constant demand for multi-layered assets, plan-o-grams, and other promotional items. They deal in big volumes of localized ads and assets that move quickly and need rapid vendor input. Their content is distributed through weekly flyers, promotional TV ads, radio ads, e-newsletters, and others. Another high-demand area for this industry is the multi-faceted visual support they require in creating such diverse marketing collateral. Creative Operations helps them cover their creative needs for all aforementioned assets. The resulting operations optimization helps the industry reduce its wasted product and, by extension, slightly lessens its loss of revenue and impact on the environment.
In another industry that deals in a lot of collateral, manufacturers collaborate with the distributors of their products all over the world. This is an industry where no wasted time goes unnoticed, and process optimization is king. From tracking available stock to providing delivery estimates, manufacturing is governed by time sensitivity and tight deadlines. All this is orchestrated by a network of multiple creative operation solutions. It is thanks to this precision that we can receive our Amazon packages in less than 24 hours.
This sector needs operational support with managing multiple branches from one centrally organized source. It is this source that provides all branches with guidance, orders, and direction. So, it is essential that the source tracks the activities and progress of all branches it presides over. The opposite is also true for some institutions in the sector. It is with a Creative Operations solution that branches can stay synchronized and up to date with one another. This helps reduce mistakes, miscommunication, and financial fraud among other things. Not bad, eh?
What do resorts, casinos, and restaurants have in common? They all work in standard sizes and fonts that they use for their wall fixtures, business cards, emails, merchandise, and more (that and they all serve beer). The benefit for such establishments in using a Creative Operations platform is in the custom templates they can create to standardize their collateral production processes. Once they have them defined, their stakeholders find it easier to adhere to them. And this is how you can create your next poster faster than you can make a cup of coffee!
If you ask what the team of any non-profit organization needs, the answer will likely be the same. What they constantly need is funding. To be successful enough to keep themselves running on donations, they must always demonstrate their value to rich philanthropists and the average person alike. They do this by creating multiple variations of informative collateral, using templates provided by Creative Operations tools. This is how they highlight the positive impact they have made on the world with the donations they have received. It is with such tools that they manage to create and distribute so many variations of every piece of collateral in time for many upcoming fundraising events.
Due to the fast-moving nature of sports, the teams working in the industry have to respond to changes as they happen. They also require different assets if a team wins vs if a team loses. They need an agile tool that can deliver the right assets to the right distribution center fast enough. Their structure is extensive – that of different teams who need a central place to receive work and guidance from. By using a Creative Operations platform, they organize their chaotic operations, so they are ready when it is go time.
Using Lytho’s Creative Operations Solution to Future-Proof and Turbocharge Your Organization
At Lytho we are obsessed with one thing – helping creative and marketing teams to achieve better content outcomes. As such, our products are built for those teams and their stakeholders. That is why Review + Approval is a core part of our product. Instead of treating creative and marketing needs like an afterthought, like most project management and task tools do, we put the needs of your creatives at the forefront of our product. Keep your stakeholders on brand with version control and the ability to create and publish on-brand assets. Automate the busywork and stop wasting time on faulty processes.
With Lytho, you can liberate your team of restrictive and restricted software and processes. Now, your team is free to tackle the toughest challenges on their plate and deliver more impact and ROI to the business. But why choose Lytho?
1. Our Creative Operations Platform Boosts Your Productivity Up to 90%
Our clients’ success stories speak for themselves – the professional basketball teams Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx saw a 20% reduction in administrative tasks. For the Endeavour Drinks Group, an Australian retail, drink, and hospitality business, a toast was in good order when their review times dropped by 40%. The American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL) unites approximately 18,000 landmen and land-related persons in North America through professional development and service. By using our solution, they reduced turnaround times by 300%! And the successes do not stop here.
Specializing in high-quality pivot door solutions and pivot hinge systems, Dutch company FritsJurgens used Lytho’s solution to share assets 10 times faster than before. For the US-based steakhouse chain, Texas Roadhouse, our Creative Operations software helped double efficiency in operations. The result? The brand can finally effectively manage its 3 sub-brands and 68,000 employees across 623 locations. And our client Kiwa, a leader in testing, inspection, and certification, sped up their brand content publishing efforts by 40%!
2. We Offer Exceptional Customer Support
As a Lytho customer, you get a dedicated customer success manager or a support team to help you in every step of the way. Whenever you have feedback for us, it goes directly to our product team for future consideration and implementation. Our focus on metrics means we help you use our tools to your organization’s maximum benefit. And we are there to celebrate every win and milestone with you!
3. You Get a Dedicated Implementation Team
That helps you set up the right tools and processes for your team to succeed. Our implementation team is there to help you achieve two major milestones – to reevaluate your process and to implement the right tools for them. While most implementation teams help you set up the software and move on, we at Lytho passionately believe in setting up our customers for success. Let us guide you through installations and process re-visitations alike.
4. Our Unique Tools Are Designed by Creatives for Creatives
Lytho’s secret sauce is in its origins – we are a team of creative professionals ourselves. As such, we set out to create a series of tools that accommodates the multi-faceted and complex needs of fellow creatives. This is what makes Lytho’s Creative Operations platform the only solution of its kind. And if you think something is missing, you can let our product team know directly!
5. You Do Not Need Any Add-Ons or Extra Tools
Our tools communicate smoothly, ensuring the same thing happens to your organization’s day-to-day operations. We keep disruptions to a minimum, and our software updates are conducted so that you rarely experience any downtime. Plus, we believe in the concept of a singular, multi-faceted solution for all your needs. This is why our solution is designed in a way that does not require you to download anything extra.
So, what are you waiting for? Book your demo with us today and let Creative Operations transform the way you work!
Have More Questions on Creative Operations?
At Lytho, we are committed to educating everyone on the significance, benefits, and (future) significance of Creative Operations. And to that end, we have taken your burning questions and offered our answers below. We hope you find them as insightful as we did.
How Can You Benefit from Adopting Creative Operations?
When implemented correctly, a Creative Operations platform helps you deal with your creative and marketing challenges. For starters, it helps your team keep up with accelerated growth by automating repetitive operational tasks. With the ability to refuse work and set realistic deadlines, your team stays motivated. And it aids them in managing stakeholder expectations by introducing standard processing times for requests. The solution comes with tools that manage inapt content requests and ad-hoc last-minute changes. Furthermore, it improves the direction and quantity of feedback by incorporating it into the creative process.
A creative operations solution grants your team the creative authority and control they deserve to have. With tools that allow creatives to refuse work, amend deadlines, and return requests, the power is in their hands. Bold claims we make, right? How can all of this be possible you may ask? The secret is… In this detailed and free-to-read report on creative challenges and suggested solutions.
Is There a Difference Between Creative Operations and Project Management?
Yes, there is! Our creative operations solution and mindset form a much-needed type of project management that is specific to creative work. The reason that brought creative operations to life is the limited extent to which traditional project management served creative professionals. Creative Operations considers all different parameters unique to creative professionals involved in business projects. It accounts for the time sensitivities, back-and-forths, and all other unpredictabilities inherent to creative work.
Do you want to improve your creative operations using easy and advanced automation tools? Lytho helps you streamline workflows and harmonize all brand collateral under a single, uniform platform. Feel free to reach out to us by scheduling a demo and learning how our Creative Operations Platform can boost the effectiveness of your creative projects. We look forward to speaking with you!