The end of the year usually means reflecting on the year gone by and setting goals for the year to come, often during an annual review with your supervisor. Creative directors struggle during this season to quantify their success or failure because so much of what they do is subjective or supports another department’s objectives. Of course, a good place to start is tracking Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, for individual creative projects, but creative directors (and their supervisors) need a way to quantify how they are performing on an individual level as well.
Creative directors often find themselves walking a fine line between quality and quantity. There is a constant need to be more productive and get more done with fewer resources and less time. This squeeze can feel especially pronounced when trying to protect your brand integrity, execute complex projects, and maintain a high standard of excellence. So, how does a creative director show that they (and their team) held the right tension between quality and quantity? There are three types of metrics any creative director can use to measure their performance.
3 Types of Creative KPIs
The first way to measure a creative director’s performance is by measuring how others perceive their performance. While this can be tricky to do in an objective way, it is important to keep a pulse on this for two reasons: in most cases, the creative department’s most important customer is another department in the company, and in all creative departments, their greatest asset is their people. So, serving everyone well is a key part of a creative director’s job.
• Employee Satisfaction: The satisfaction of individual creatives is a leading indicator for creative teams because turnover can be uniquely costly for creative departments. There is often a steep learning curve to understanding a new brand’s style and work practices. Keeping continuity in your creative department is a way to safeguard the work going on and ensure costs don’t spiral.
• “Customer” Satisfaction Most creative departments find themselves fulfilling requests for stakeholders outside of their departments. A great way to ensure that they are effectively doing their work is to ask these outside stakeholders if they are satisfied with that work.
Ultimately, any business department should be able to tie their work to a share of the company’s revenue. This is often overlooked because it can be difficult to quantify. To get started, you will likely need to collaborate with other departments. If your team mostly serves to fulfill marketing requests, you can tie a dollar value to those outcomes. You can also tie a market rate for the completion of certain projects that are harder to define—how much it would cost to complete the same project via an agency instead of staying in-house?
• Revenue per Project: This metric can especially demonstrate the leadership effectiveness of a creative director. Understanding the overall revenue your team is responsible for, divided by the total number of projects your team was able to complete in a year shows that your team is spending critical time in the right areas, without getting bogged down by distractions that aren’t as mission critical.
• Revenue per Employee: Another similarly useful measurement for showing the effectiveness of a creative team is revenue per employee. This again depends on tying the overall team’s work to a revenue value, but doing this calculation by the number of employees on your team can show that the team is managed well. It can also help the creative director advocate for salary increases and bonuses on behalf of the team. If you’re tracking revenue by individual projects, you can make this calculation even more granular and show which employees drove the most revenue.
• Cost Saved: Another highly effective, easy-to-track metric is simply to compare how much it would cost to complete all the projects on your team’s plate if they were managed by outside contractors vs. the cost to run your department. One RoboHead customer was able to demonstrate that his team’s efficiency saved the company millions of dollars using this metric.
While it isn’t always glamorous, proving that a creative director can manage their team’s time well is a crucial KPI.
• Planned Capacity vs. Actual: Measuring your team’s productivity versus its overall capacity can show the different ways your team is performing above expectations, and any creative director will be able to find useful information here. For example, you should be able to say that your team was at 80% capacity for the week, meaning they are working to their fullest, allowing for deviation while minimizing the risk of tasks getting missed. To measure this KPI, simply look at the hours tracked on individual tasks in a given week and measure that against their overall available hours.
• Project Lead Time: Project lead time is best understood relative to a baseline number for your organization or an individual team. Understanding how long it takes for a project to make its way from your request queue and all the way to a final deliverable will show if projects are well managed.
• Total number of projects completed: Similar to lead time, this simple metric may work best to compare year-over-year performance because projects can vary so much. But, understanding the total number of projects a creative team was able to execute in a given time period is a simple KPI every creative director should know.
• Projects completed per person: Another powerful metric to track is the number of projects completed per person. This can account for fluctuations in team size and more tangibly shows when a team has scaled up their productivity without hiring additional hands. It can also help advocate bringing new team members on board.
Whether you’re evaluating 2022 or planning goals for 2023, it’s important to look for ways to quantify your team’s creative work so that you can continue to improve it. A project management tool can help by keeping track of project requests, showing lead times, and even forecasting future work.