The top 3 metrics you should consider when planning for the second half of the year.
As we approach the halfway point in the year, many creative teams are taking time to evaluate their progress towards annual goals and plan for the second half of the year. The success of second half planning ultimately comes down to having the right data to make decisions about goals and resource allocation for the rest of the year. Here are 3 metrics you will need to inform your planning this year:
The most important piece of information you can have for planning out the next six months is knowing what work you can expect. Some of this you may already know, for example holiday promotions for Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, or a high season that is specific to your industry. Bolster that data by asking clients and stakeholders what projects they are planning for the next 6 months. Even if they don’t have a complete answer for you, having some idea of what to expect will help you plan ahead.
Another useful way to gauge expected work is to look back at the second half of the previous year to see what that workload was like. Pull key metrics like:
- How many projects were started?
- How many projects were completed?
- How long did the average project take?
- How many people worked on each project?
- How many projects did each team member have to juggle?
- Which clients or stakeholders did you receive the most requests from?
- Which clients took the longest to approve work?
These metrics help your team anticipate not just the workload itself, but also identify likely roadblocks and start building strategies for combating them. For example, if you see that last year a certain reviewer was consistently slower than other reviewers about submitting feedback, you can develop a strategy for setting deadlines on proof review, automatic reminders, or re-evaluate where that reviewer is positioned in the proof route. Even if you can’t get a complete picture of all expected work over the next year, planning for the roadblocks you know you will encounter will help your team hit your goals for the next 6 months.
The last 6 months of the year are rife with holidays and vacations. In addition to the summer vacations many people take between June and September, you also have a parade of major holidays that come at the end of the year. However, this rush of holidays and vacations doesn’t translate to smaller workloads. Companies are still trying to hit quarter and year end goals and milestones. If anything, the demand for creative work increases in the second half of the year. Knowing that you will probably be balancing these holidays and vacations with an increased workload, its important to plan accordingly.
The most obvious question is do you need to expand your staff? This doesn’t have to mean hiring more FTEs, though that may be the appropriate solution. But you can also hire part time or find an agency to fill in the gaps. Even bringing on interns from local colleges or design schools. Look for ways to give your existing staff more time back in their day by taking off the burden of admin tasks. The 2018 Creative Management Report from inMotionNow and InSource found that most creatives spend 3-7 hours a week on admin tasks, while a third reported spending seven or more hours a week on admin tasks. This adds up to a full day each week, or 20% of creative time annually spent on admin tasks and not on creative work.
As you look for ways to let your creatives spend more time being creative, take a look at your entire process to find areas of inefficiencies or wastes of creative time.
The biggest source of creative workflow inefficiency for most teams is at project intake. Inefficient project intake slows down projects and distracts your creatives by making them chase down additional information from requesters. In the 2018 Creative Management Report, respondents cited creative briefing and project intake as the biggest challenge in their creative workflow, and 66% of respondents said that obtaining the necessary information to begin work was difficult or very difficult. You can improve the quality and efficiency of the creative briefs your team gets from stakeholders by treating the process as a collaborative, strategic meeting, rather than a simple form that marketing tosses over the wall to creative.
The second biggest pain point in most creative workflows is at the end, when it comes time to get approval on proofs. 36% of creative teams report that it takes 2-3 days to get a proof approved, while almost 30% report that it takes over a week to get final approval. This time at the end of a project is when deadlines are in the most danger. Using an online proofing tool with proof routing enables creatives to make sure the proof gets to the right reviewers in the right order, gives the reviewers deadlines to complete their reviews, and allows the creative to send reminder emails to reviewers in a single click. This can help get those proofs reviewed and approved quicker, and helps creative teams hit their deadlines.
Taking the time to review your team’s progress through the year so far and looking ahead to the second half of the year is a crucial step for creative teams to have a successful future six months. Taking the time to review your team’s expected workload, staffing considerations, and process gaps will help your creative team stay in motion during the second half of the year!