The creative brief is the unsung hero of the campaign process.

At least that’s what McDonald’s former global marketing director, Joe Talcott believes, calling it “one of the most valuable and paradoxically most neglected tools marketers have to create good work”.

The creative brief is not just important to agencies. When well-executed, it’s a key element that helps every member of your internal marketing team, as well as all outsourced agencies, clearly understand the goals and constraints of the campaign.

Attempting to go ahead with a project without a creative brief is like attempting to find an address without a GPS tracker or a map. Sure, you may be able to figure it out, but you’ll probably take a few wrong turns along the way, wasting time and fuel.

Many companies get it wrong, rushing the briefing process or not ensuring the brief provides clear and detailed information. The result of this is often detrimental impact on the cost, quality, and delivery of a campaign, not to mention a waste of everyone’s time, as reverts and amendments may need to be made at later stages of the campaign.

And if you’re still not convinced, here are a few more reasons as to why a clear creative brief will ensure a successful campaign from start to finish:

Better alignment for bigger teams

These days, when you’re trying to coordinate large-scale projects as a global business with a multi-faceted team, it’s more important than ever to get everyone on the same page. Whether it’s creative directors, account managers, designers, copywriters, videographers, stylists, or buyers – it’s likely that various contributors will join the project at different points in the process.

Having a concise creative brief is the best way to ensure that every contributor is using the exact same reference point, understands all the strategic goals of the campaign, and can see how their role fits into the process.

An underrated time-saving tool 

Many companies see the creative brief as a waste of time, but can you imagine receiving a completed campaign back from an outsourced agency only to realise they completely misinterpreted your brief and will have to start the project from scratch?

Depending on the size of the marketing campaign, this type of error could cost the company weeks or months of valuable time. By simply investing an extra hour or so into developing a clear creative brief at the beginning of the process, you’re ensuring a more efficient turnaround of your project in the long-run.

Catch any issues before they catch you

As a marketing manager or director, the creative brief will serve as an invaluable resource for you to anticipate any problems with a project before they happen. Whether it be a legal conflict, a technical issue, or a budgetary constraint, you’ll be able to consult all the necessary stakeholders, using the brief as a reference, to check for any consistencies in the project.

Remember that revising, scaling down, or changing direction entirely is far easier to do, and financially more viable, in the planning stages of a project than it is during the execution stages.

Say hello to a successful campaign from start to finish

Ultimately, a clear creative brief serves as a reviewable, recordable document that can be referenced throughout the project by all parties involved, acting as a guide that will:

  • create more trust between your team and your vendors;
  • result in a better project process;
  • save you time and money;
  • and improve the quality of work being produced by each team member.

But, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed about where to even get started with this document.

Which is why we have gone ahead and compiled the ultimate go-to creative brief checklist for marketing teams. You can distribute this to any marketing managers, team leads, or project managers who would be in charge of initiating your next big campaign. Get your free copy below.

 

 

The choice is yours: the collaboration between your agency and your client on the latest campaign can either be a pain point or a productive process. It all depends on the briefing process, how you allow your client to get involved and what system you have in place to help manage this communication.

The importance of the creative brief

The brief is a vital part of the project-management process, as it helps you, your team and the client clearly understand the goals and constraints of the campaign. When you get the briefing process right, your agency benefits in a number of ways:

  • Saving time and money – a clear brief means fewer revisions and changes at a later stage
  • Inspiration – a good brief will get your team thinking out of the box to bring it to life
  • A reference point – when reviewing the project at any point, you should always be able to check if it’s reflecting the requirements of the brief

Collaboration with the client is key…but also a lot of work  

Naturally, the client will be the one to hand you the brief explaining what they want achieved. The problem here is that, although some clients provide a detailed brief of what they want, many clients only turn in a half-thought-out brief or a confusing concept they’re unable to explain. But because the brief is the foundation of any creative project or campaign, it’s crucial that the client is given more agency to collaborate with the team until the brief is as clear and detailed as it can be.

However, managing a project is a time-consuming and sometimes overwhelming process – having to juggle the expectations and needs of everyone from executive management to the creative team – so, it may seem that going back and forth on emails with the client to gain clarity on a brief might just be asking too much.

This is why every project manager or project lead should be using a management system that not only helps you to track your projects and handle the financial side of things but is also a collaboration tool – designed to help you prioritise your communication with clients and make better strategic decisions about projects.

Using a management system to make your creative workflow, well, flow

Raise your hand if you’ve got more than three apps or programs on your computer or phone that help you to manage various functions of the project. Most project managers end up having one tool for communication purposes, one tool for task-planning, one for document sharing and so on. Most of them don’t have anything to help with the initial briefing process and client collaboration. In a recent poll we took during a webinar, we found that 67% of those surveyed don’t currently use a software system for briefing.

But imagine you had one system that did it all and, most importantly, allowed you to have better alignment with your clients at the beginning of the project process. You’d no longer have to worry about remembering the login details for the 10 different management programs you’ve been using, but instead would reap the benefits of using the right software, such as being able to:

  • streamline projects, people and finance from end to end in one best practice solution designed to help you grow;
  • boost productivity and optimise utilisation through better project and resource planning; and
  • increase profitability and control costs by scoping accurately, increasing efficiency and reducing delays.

Power your agency’s success with Deltek WorkBook

Built by agency veterans, Deltek WorkBook is a total agency management system that provides best practice solutions to help your agency grow. WorkBook makes it easier to focus on your clients and make strategic decisions for the future by streamlining projects, people and finance from end to end, giving you better control, insight and visibility at any time.

 

WorkBook’s client portal feature, enables you to:

  • Streamline the briefing process between the client and internal teams
  • Provide clients with an easy login to the system and determine whether they can create a new brief or just view current briefs
  • Give client contacts access to new jobs created by the studio as well as remove client access to jobs that have been closed or cancelled
  • Easily liaise with clients, using the cleverly designed customer portal

Want to ensure your project process starts with a clear brief and is streamlined with helpful collaboration with your client?

Book a demo of Deltek WorkBook by completing the below form

 

 

How to motivate your team to produce good work, even during a global pandemic

We all know what it’s like to dig deep on a Monday morning, trying to find the smallest bit of motivation to get out of bed and dress for work. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, it sort of threw the world into a permanent “Monday morning” situation. Along with the increased levels of stress and anxiety it brought to agencies and businesses all over the globe, came an adjustment to remote working and a struggle amongst employees to find motivation to be innovative and creative. 

Research conducted in partnership with Microsoft and the Boston Consulting Group, involving 9,000 managers and employees from firms across 15 European countries, revealed that, “It’s a challenge to feel connected, confident and communicate effectively with the team, and we know from a lot of research that creativity and innovation largely happen through collaboration.” A healthy team culture is achieved when employees feel motivated to be creative and productive. 

But, how do you implement this type of work environment when employees are unable to get together in the office for a good, old-fashioned creative brainstorming session?

Fortunately there are a number of effective strategies you can implement within your teams now to ensure you can harness that collaborative mentality, and motivate your team to produce creative work, at a distance. 

Ensure an effective briefing process

According to Denise Blasevick, CEO of The S3 Agency, providing a clear creative brief, a day or two before an online brainstorming sessions, is key because it “allows people to digest the information, do research, and come armed with questions along with any potential thought starters that can start the brainstorm out with a burst of energy.”

Download a helpful Creative Brief Checklist

Use virtual whiteboards for collaboration

Traditional brainstorming whiteboards are found to actually limit creativity because often one individual is responsible for recording all thoughts, whereas virtual whiteboards allow everyone to contribute, show and record their ideas. Visual collaboration in a virtual space also means you can loop in other team members who may work in different country offices. You could even use this process to encourage healthy competition, circling the “winning ideas” on the virtual whiteboard and challenging your team to suggest better ideas.

Here are a few virtual whiteboards we recommend checking out: 

Source: https://www.innovationtraining.org/what-is-mural-and-how-to-use-mural-for-design-thinking/

Encourage individual work 

Grace Judson, a leadership consultant, advises that you provide your team with limited solo brainstorming time, using a ripple effect: The first team member starts and is given 5 minutes to write out their ideas. Once they are done, the second team member goes, either coming up with new ideas, or using the ideas of the previous team member as inspiration, still on the 5-minute clock. This continues until all team members have contributed and then the results are up for discussion. 

Equip your team with a helpful brainstorming activity sheet

For many, the best way to tackle those Monday morning blues is to grab hold of a big cup of coffee. And for us, giving our team tools to help get their creative juices flowing while working from home, is the equivalent to a shot of espresso. 

Which is why we’ve developed a free, downloadable, Idea Generation Workbook that you can share with your team today – either for them to complete alone or for you to work through it with them. 

This sheet offers a few out-of-the-box ideas for brainstorming effectively, as well as formal processes they can follow to keep them focused and motivated. Before long, your team will be producing such good work, and solving every problem thrown at them, you will have forgotten remote working was ever a struggle in the first place. 

Ready to see your team’s innovative thinking thrive? Get your free Idea Generation Workbook by completing the below form.

 

We’re living in a time when the word “health” is on everyone’s lips and the age of Covid has brought with it a greater focus on, and prioritisation of, both mental health and physical wellbeing. As a result, we’ve all tried to take steps towards improving our health: we take vitamins and supplements, do more exercise, eat healthier, wash our hands, and wear a mask. But in order for us to know what we need to do to improve our health, we have to visit a doctor, be aware of potential risks,  or take note of our symptoms.

Are you approaching the health of your organisation with the same level of maintenance and evaluation as you do yourself?

Perhaps you’re reading this thinking, “Well, we are a top performing company so obviously we are in good health.” But the reality is, even top-performing businesses have times – could be a day, could be a week, could be a month – when their productivity is not where it should be and a few cracks start to show. A regular health check ensures you’ll be able to notice any possible flaws in your systems and processes, and implement strategies or practices to ensure the cracks don’t become permanently damaging.

Or, maybe you’re from a smaller organisation, still trying to find your feet. Mckinsey & Co found companies that work on their health demonstrate tangible performance gains in as little as 6 to 12 months. They define healthy organisations as being “high functioning and highly successful over long periods of time”. So getting a health check while your business is still growing its potential could be the kickstarter you need to boost your competitive edge.

Organisational health is not only about employee engagement and workplace culture

Don’t get us wrong – those two factors are really important. In fact,  of our 4 key learnings from 2020, two of them had to do with employee engagement and team culture. But the health of your organisation is also dependent on other factors, such as its ability to continuously innovate, benchmark against industry trends and implement smooth operational and reporting processes.

Scott Keller & Colin Price, authors of Beyond Performance: How Great Organizations Build Ultimate Competitive Advantage,  define organisational health as “the ability of an organization to align, execute, and renew itself faster than the competition to sustain exceptional performance over time”.

So what does an organisational health check entail?

It’s vital that you’re routinely checking in on your engineering firm’s functionality, systems, and culture, and don’t just trust in your financial metrics as the determining factor of organisational health.

Although it may seem like financial success should be the determining factor in your organisation’s performance,  the top quartile of publicly traded companies in McKinsey’s Organizational Health Index (OHI) delivers roughly three times the returns to shareholders as those in the bottom quartile. In the words of Jon Wolske, the culture evangelist at Zappos, “Your financial metrics can be great, but if dragons are all over your organization, eventually the village will burn.”

An organisational health check is an external assessment at the organisational level that evaluates your company’s systems, processes, operational structure, and workplace culture, compares how you fare against others in your industry, and highlights areas where you could implement strategies for improvement.

A healthy organisation is one that has:

  • internal alignment across departments;
  • clear and consistent innovation strategies;
  • an effective operational workplace system everyone is onboard with;
  • leadership that models the values of the company through their behaviour and attitude;
  • employees who feel valued, engaged, and inspired;
  • an environment that encourages open communication and feedback;
  • efficient communication systems for remote workers;
  • and more.

Want to ensure your engineering firm is staying successful in a competitive SA market?

Silversoft is offering Engineering Consulting firms a free health check to determine how they compare to others in the industry in terms of the 4 key learnings from 2020.

This involves your completing a simple 10-minute survey, followed by a call with one of our experienced Account Managers. You will be provided with a concise report highlighting your firm’s strengths and areas of improvement in our new working environment as well as a mini-guide on how to implement improvements in the 4 key areas.

Take the health check survey

If you didn’t attend Silversoft’s webinar this month, you missed out! A candid chat about the impact that the “COVID-era” has had, and will continue to have on consumers, clients and advertising industries for the foreseeable future. Moderated by Mike Stopforth, with a panel of industry heavy-hitters; Andrew Brand (CEO, 99Cents), Pepe Marais (CEO, Job Public), Monalisa Zwambila (CEO, The Riverbed) and Lynn Madeley (CEO, Havas South Africa), we wanted to highlight some key thoughts and insights from some of the best minds in the industry.

Watch on-demand webinar.

Stopforth rightly points out that “COVID” has become a catch-all phrase that encompasses a few things; Lock-down, behavioural change and overall business challenges, and something that has affected all South Africans in different ways. The “new normal” has also become a popular phrase for many businesses during this era, but as Monalisa Zwambila rightly points out, it is difficult to define a “new normal”. This is still being established for many which will take time, and, will vary from business to business.

What is the new normal?

Agencies, now more than ever, need to ensure that their clients remain relevant. Briefs need to be interrogated and agencies need to ensure that client laggards are being challenged to market to a consumer with a new mindset. Brands need to show up in a way that is meaningful and agencies need to ensure that they are aligning more strategically with their clients to ensure that these new consumer needs are met through executing on effective campaigns that still benefit the client’s bottom line.

Shift in consumer mindset

It is undeniable that there has been a rise of a much more discerning consumer, one that demands of a brand to be more purpose-lead. South African consumers are very dynamic, and have been affected in many different ways. This is something that advertisers must keep in mind during the COVID era.

Andrew Brand, CEO of 99Cents, started his business during a global financial crisis and believes that agencies and brands need to now – more than ever – demonstrate their value to consumers. No “fluff” with a greater drive to be as lean and transparent as possible. This has been the secret behind 99Cent’s success.

Branding is purpose. A sentiment that Pepe Marais strongly believes. The only way to move forward is for brands to not only ensure that they have a purpose, but also that they take true action to build all campaigns and messaging around this purpose. Lip-service is not going “cut” it anymore. “Perhaps COVID has come to raise the consciousness of business – to move into a higher order of doing business. Consumers buy into what they believe in, not what you are selling”, says Marais.

Technology and automation

One aspect of “new normal” that is undeniable, is the increased use of technology for many. Informal meetings around the water cooler have been replaced with online meetings. WhatsApp has become the follow ups on emails and new tools for remote collaboration have been implemented.

Technology has the ability to transform a lot of what we do. Andrew Brand points out that a lot of what we do is not a science, it is an art. Technological advances in agencies is not about replacing humans, but rather ensuring that they can perform their tasks efficiently. Reducing mundane tasks is key, not replacing the creative thinker or the creative process.

Working from home as a new normal

A poll conducted during the webinar revealed that 60% of the audience felt that working from home had not been a deterrent to their day-to-day jobs. Employees are being more efficient, are responding to client needs effectively and most are adapting to this way of working. But, humans need interaction. Madeley and Marais both believe that moving forward, the “work-from-home” vs “office based” models will be blended. Office space will not be as necessary as before and could be the perfect way to balance productivity with interaction.

Another COVID-era trend that has been accelerated, is the availability of talented freelance workers due to many retrenchments and agency downsizing. South Africa has been behind the curb until now when it comes to the willingness to utilize a freelance/contract workforce – which is likely to change. With a shift in focus, agencies are slowing starting to realise that if you have the right people working for you, it doesn’t matter if they are permanent or freelance staff. A lot of agencies have had to downsize, therefore increasing the talent pool of skilled people on the job market. Freelancing provides huge value to a client. There will always be a need for full time staff – a way to ensure quality work is produced as well as continuity and culture. The gig economy has been around for a while, perhaps now it is being fast-tracked.

How have agency processes changed?

Lynn Madeley doesn’t believe that agency processes have changed per se. What has changed are the roles that certain people play within the agency. “The COO has become the most important person in our business” Lynn adds. Zwambila adds that instead of retrenching staff in her business within portfolios like eventing, she has utilized these employees in different roles such as client service. Of course the way in which agencies are working has changed; having to quickly adapt to an online world, but core business processes have remained largely the same.

Is now the time to advertise more or less?

Pepe Marais believes that now is the time to advertise better! We are in the business of advertising, not process. We have become admin people rather than Ad-men or Ad-women. Whether budgets are shrinking or not, agencies need to do better work. In this digital world that we live in, we need to be cognisant of the fact that advertising is not about impressions, but rather engagement. Marais hopes that COVID will bring us back to creativity. “Maybe now is the time to bring art back to advertising?” Marais says.

Final remarks and advice for surviving COVID

Andrew Brand:
“A lot of change is still to come, but more will stay the same. People are slow to change, but there are a number of valuable lessons coming out from the COVID and BLM movements. It’s the ultimate reset button, and many agencies and employees will survive this storm.”
Pepe Marais:
“The more you go into service, the more naturally you make money. Human beings and agencies need to go back to adding value and authentic purpose to their lives, and the brands that they work with.”
Lynn Madeley:
“Exercise, eat well, talk to people and find structure in your day. I am a huge believer in health and wellness during stressful times.”
Monalisa Zwambila:
“Humans are resilient. We will probably see that we are all stronger than we thought we were and use this strength as a pivot to do the things that we thought we were incapable of.”

We consider it our ongoing mission to truly understand our clients’ challenges and proactively identify what help they need to solve these challenges. To this end, we recently worked with Campaign UK to survey 100 agencies. The focus of the research was agency efficiency and productivity – in essence, do agencies have the right processes and systems in place to maximise their creativity? The results show that while this is a clear priority for agencies, most are not satisfied that the tools they are using are the right ones. I’ve selected some of what I found to be the most interesting data points to share with you.

See the full survey results

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY

Key Challenges:

Let’s start with the problems those surveyed want to solve:

  1. Managing ever-increasing client expectations for cheaper, better and faster work
  2. Finding and retaining qualified staff
  3. Charging clients correctly (in terms of accurate budgeting, timekeeping and managing scope creep)
  4. Forecasting and planning in an always-changing environment
  5. Resource management aligned with capacity

These issues aren’t new and there aren’t any that can’t be solved by implementing effective processes to measure productivity and efficiency. So, what’s holding agencies back?

Efficiency: Every Agency’s Holy Grail?

advertising agency software

While the vast majority (85%) of survey respondents said that their agencies were measuring operational efficiency in some way, the methods used varied. 42% reported using a mixture of automated and manual systems to keep track of operational efficiency, while 28% said they still tracked efficiency mainly through manual methods, such as spreadsheets. The problem with this tracking approach was summarised by one respondent, the strategy director at an agency; “I have to look at one spreadsheet for our budget, one for time spent, another for costs – and while we use software for pipeline management, those systems aren’t joined up.”

Getting Estimates Right: What’s Going Wrong?

‘69% of agencies report too many guesstimates in their estimates’

However, 29% said they did not have that clear insight and 21% were only “somewhat” convinced by their estimates. More worryingly, one in 10 of those surveyed either did not know if their estimates were correct or were not confident in their accuracy.

So, what is undermining confidence in business estimates? The answer seems to lie in the fact that agencies’ estimates are too often underpinned by a certain amount of guesswork. 69% of those surveyed felt they had some of the information they needed to produce accurate business estimates, but that too many guesstimates were involved in the process.

One strategy director was candid about how easy it is to fall into over-reliance on guesstimates: “What we think we know about our business is massively open to personal bias – too often, we base our thinking on ‘I reckon…’ rather than hard data. We often think we know who our best clients are, but do the numbers bear that out?’’ he asked.

Where Technology Meets Creativity

project management for creative agencies

“Moving to a single system has allowed the team to increase the speed with which they can access data – it allows them to spend more time on creating the work and less on the tracking of it.”
– Mark Jones, We Are Social

The results showed that most agencies felt that better technology would help build a clearer picture of their business, and free up staff to concentrate on creativity. 66% thought that agency management software could help with easier project scheduling and time tracking and a similar number believed it could reduce excessive admin time and unbillable costs. 52% thought software systems could help align resourcing and staffing pipelines, while nearly as many (47%) believed they could increase the accuracy of estimates and invoices.

So, what’s the real problem? It seems that agencies are not actually taking advantage of these technology benefits.

Most agencies (66%) were using multiple systems to manage and monitor their activity and were only “somewhat” happy with the result. Meanwhile, a significant minority (16%) were successfully using one integrated software system across the whole agency. A unified system appears to be the key to success. Mark Jones of We Are Social is convinced of the benefits of a cohesive approach: “Moving to a single system has allowed the team to increase the speed with which they can access data – it allows them to spend more time on creating the work and less on the tracking of it.”

I’ve only been able to touch on a couple of points from what was a truly enlightening research piece in this blog. Please do download the full report here for a more detailed view of the insights and trends we uncovered.

Why spend most of your budget on recruitment systems and processes when you can get an effective and streamline recruitment system to do the work for you for only R65k per year*

 Online Recruitment helps your company to

  • Source Qualified Talent
  • Streamline the Overall Recruiting Process
  • Increase Recruiter Productivity
  • Track Hiring Milestones
  • Enhance Onboarding

Go beyond traditional recruiting tools and widgets

  • Seamlessly share requisitions through social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Provide the option of Mobile Apply to job seekers
  • Utilize dashboard widgets to streamline your
    processes
  • Create unique recruiting campaigns with Multiple
    Branded Career Portals
  •  Utilize single sign-on with our comprehensive API

Request info below

When we first launched the product Deltek for Professional Services (DPS) in 2017, we went to market with a solid name that reinforced the focus on professional services organizations. Deltek for Professional Services provided a clear focus on project centric service industries, and the name served us well in talking about the next generation capabilities within the product. As we advance the capabilities of this product we wanted to take the opportunity to refine that name to reflect the promise of the upcoming full solution. Our next release will be called Deltek Vantagepoint. Why? Because when released Deltek Vantagepoint will be the only end-to-end, project-centric ERP solely focused on the Management & IT Consulting and Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) industries.  This new release will give our customers an even better vantage point in all phases of the project lifecycle.

Deltek Vantagepoint reflects the unparalleled visibility customers will receive when the next release is delivered to market.  It delivers on our promise of a complete end-to-end, project-centric ERP solution for Consulting and AEC firms around the globe. By updating the product name, we’re able to rally around our brand and product promise, and drive our benefits-focused message into the industries we serve.

We’re looking forward to the release of Deltek Vantagepoint as the next version of DPS with a great new name.  As William Shakespeare famously wrote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Read more here

 

Project Information Management. Access critical firm-wide and document information in one central location

It’s a competitive world out there and whether you’re a lawyer, architect, engineer or contractor, the need to organize your emails and documents is critical. Organized information saves you time, and saving time saves money.

 

1. Are your emails overflowing?

People spend nearly 2-3 hours a day on email-related activities, consuming 20-30% of their business day. Firms with document information management systems spend minutes, not hours, with email.

2. Can you find your firms critical documents?

6 in 10 firms rely on network folders to manage projects, but face inconsistent file structures, accidental deletion, drag-and-drop displacement hindering productivity and negatively impacting utilization. Firms can proactively manage documents through the entire legal lifecycle instead of waiting until the matter is complete to start organizing files.

 3. How quickly can you find critical documents?

Firms can spend hours, if not days, tracking down critical project information, wasting valuable resources and critical project time. With project information management, firms can find drawings or documents completed yesterday, last week or last year in a matter of minutes.

 

4. Do your teams struggle to share & manage files internally & externally?

Only 9% of firms have a single enterprise-wide collaboration system. Yet, 75% believe sharing documents is the most important way to improve collaboration. 

 

 5. Is your firm’s information a liability or an asset?

The average cost of a single misplaced file is more than R1000. Think of that times the number of files in just a single project. An effective document management strategy could reduce cost by 30% and lower risk by 23%.

 

Register below to Enquire more information