Running an in-house creative services department is different than an agency.
There are two major differences between running an in-house creative services department and an agency. The first is when you’re in-house, the client can’t fire you (well, your bosses can, but that’s a little different). They can try to hire their own outside resources, but that usually ties into difference number two: money.
Anyone that has worked with an agency knows that poor planning leads to bigger invoices. Rounds and rounds of revisions lead to more billable hours. Or, last second fire drill projects can lead to rush charges.
But in the in-house world, other departments don’t have to worry about this. In-house creative departments are often structured as an overall business expense or a marketing expense.
If someone misses a deadline getting a project to an in-house creative department, there are no ramifications. All it means is other projects get pushed, or your team ends up working a lot of (usually unpaid) overtime.
So as a creative, how do you deal with rush projects due to other people’s poor planning?
First off you have to set expectations up front. Of somebody wants project X, they have to give you Y number of days to accomplish the work.
Next, you have to reinforce the timeline. If someone tries to push through a rush project, let them know that this is an exception and you’ll do it this time.
And for repeat offenders, you have to let them fail. They’re grown ups and by now, they know the rules. Assuming your department is as busy as ours, you probably have plenty of other deadlines you are responsible for.
This last one has been tough for me to implement. This is a “Services” department. It’s our job to service other departments. And I’ve always prided myself on hitting deadlines (I have no problem saying publicly that our team is amazing at hitting deadlines). But we can’t miss the deadlines of those who follow the process to support those who don’t.
Disclaimer: these suggestions don’t apply to top executives. They will always get their projects to you at the very last minute. And if you enjoy having a job, you’ll suck it up and do the project. Though I do have to note, for a recent project where 9 people had to turn in projects to Creative, the Extreme Networks CEO was the only person that hit the due date.
There are a million reasons why someone might miss a deadline of getting deliverables to Creative Services. We’ve all heard them. Sometimes it’s poor planning. Sometimes it’s a lack of respect. But usually something or someone got in their way.
And over time you’ll learn who the repeat offenders are. They reveal themselves quicker than they realize.