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.

 

 

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

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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.

 

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

By Jerry Lee

To adapt or to customize your ERP? This decision requires prudence when implementing an ERP system.

Often, business problems are tackled with a customization rather than evaluating if the business process can be adjusted to work within the base system design of the ERP. Businesses also often start applying customizations without fully understand any implications that may have an impact in the long run. There are times where custom functionality is needed and customization is great to get “what you want”, but what’s the catch? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:

PROs:

  • It resolves specific required functionality not native to the ERP system. Even so, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, why customization?
  • We are living in a customizable world, in the era of new technologies allowing users to customize and personalize their own applications. Been accustomed to this flexibility, it becomes difficult for people to adjust.
  • Protect competitive advantages that have made organizations successful. This is what makes the organization unique from its competitors. Because it is unique, no ERP software is able to provide as an out-of-the-box functionality.

 

CONS:

  • Upgrades becomes more complex, costly, and risky because a special upgrade path will be necessary.
  • Help desks typically does not support customizations, this is because they do not have the knowledge of the customization.
  • Potential interference or incompatibility with future implemented modules if the customization is poorly designed.
  • Outdated (or zero) documentation is very common for customizations often due to delivery pressures.
  • Having to do your own testing extensively for every affected module in the ERP system, because you are the only one with this unique requirement.
  • The risk of customizing for the wrong reason. For every customization that has been identified, we need to ask if the customization is really necessary. It can be a possibility that the customization is required because the people does not want to adopt new business processes and software functionality. This could suggest that the organization should invest in change management to help people adapt to new ways of doing things rather than investing in customizations.

 

Customizations can be inevitable in organizations, the key is to understand the implications and find the right balance. And most importantly keep it simple because “Simplicity is a competitive advantage”!

 

Take Away: Applying Industry Best Practise

As feasibility allows, make efforts to implement the customization outside the ERP system. The customization can be either an interactive interface or a batch process as a standalone. This approach can be to your advantage over customizing your ERP in the long term. Having a standalone may mean not having a seamless interface but you need to consider the key advantages for adapting to your ERP:

 

  • Easier upgrade path allowing you to take advantage of the standard software upgrade releases with minimal upgrade effort.
  • Less time and costly to upgrade by eliminating custom functionality troubleshooting and debugging efforts.
  • Access to support documentation and knowledge-base because you are not the only one with the knowledge of the system’s functionality, information will be widely available.

Want to know more on ERP implementation? Download our ERP for dummies eBook below:

 

Discover how transparency provided by ERP software can increase resource utilisation and profitability.

 

Focusing on your project lifecycle as a whole is one of the best ways for Professional Services companies to optimise efficiency and hence profit margin. Resource utilisation, time from proposal to completion and time from completion to payment are three key aspects of a project lifecycle which can maximise profitability if carefully managed.

Our slideshow explores how, by concentrating on these three aspects of your service delivery, you can ensure that you have the right people working on the right projects and, most importantly, the cash keeps on flowing. Read on to discover how ERP software can give you the right information, in real time, to ensure better project management and margin control.

 

 

 

 

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will vary from business to business and industry to industry. The metrics that matter to a Manufacturing business will not necessarily matter to an Accounting practice. When determining KPIs for your business, it’s important to assess your core activity and understand what you need to measure in order to measure your business value over time.

For project-based, Professional Services firms there are certain KPI’s which are essential to measure. These KPIs will likely be the same across Architecture, Consulting, Engineering and Legal Firms.

In a study by IDC – Managing your firm for growth – Professional Services firms were asked to identify the KPIs that matter most to their business and the results clearly show the top 10 KPIs which all Professional Services firms should measure. In this blog, Deltek specifically looks at the four metrics that every CFO or Finance Director needs to know and how to measure them. Namely Revenue Growth, Days Sales Outstanding (DSO), Customer Lifetime Value and Market Share.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

If you want to find out more about KPIs for Professional Services Firms you can download our Ultimate Guide to KPIs for a Project Based Business Below.

According to a survey by CIPD, a third of businesses don’t measure their productivity. Many of those that do measure it appear in practice to be thinking about business performance more generally.

What is productivity?

Productivity is the work generated by companies and their employees with the resources they have.

It is thought that, in the UK, productivity has been at a standstill for seven years due to companies not investing in their employees and required resources.

Improve your productivity

To learn more about the 5 tips to improve your productivity and become more efficient at work, click here.

‘A poor workman always blames his tools’ is a well-known quip but I would challenge that, actually, having the right tools at your disposal is a critical part of completing any project successfully.

Prepare your Agency in a changing industry

The new world of digital consumption is booming and this is particularly palpable in the fast paced world of Marketing and Communications, where creativity is key. In order to continue to be successful, Marketing Agencies must stay ahead of the trends and enable their greatest assets; their people , to be free to think creatively and not be stifled by outdated technology, wasting precious time and energy.

To continue to stay relevant and win new business, you have to portray to your clients that you are the most innovative, forward-thinking agency in your field of expertise, and that you are capable of capitalising on all the changes and advances within the industry in in order to help them to continue to reach their audience.

Read the whole article here