This is the fourth in a series of five blog posts that provide insight into the evolution of creative team resourcing. If you haven't already read the first previous installments, you can find them here.

It's been said before. In every business, every line of expertise, every country in the world: "It's all about the people." Nothing gets done without having the right people in place and, as simple as this idea sounds, it is at the crux of why we have seen most in-house agencies succeed or fail. Hopefully previous posts in this series have been thought provoking and have helped those of you who are seriously considering a "remodel" to make progress in your analysis and strategic planning efforts. Regardless of your analysis and planning, if your company doesn't have an effective resourcing strategy in place to provide access to the right people and services, you're going to have trouble executing against your vision for the department.

The marketing and creative services talent supply chain predominantly consists of the following talent acquisition channels:

Company Full-Time Employees

  • Salaried, long-term, dedicated employees of the company

Ad/Creative Agencies of Record (AOR)

  • Typically larger, diversified companies, often global in capability, who employ teams capable of delivering strategic-level campaigns and creative deliverables for the mass markets

Specialty Creative Agencies

  • Smaller creative firms who are more focused and bring a higher degree of expertise in a particular discipline, such as digital development, video production, direct mail, social, etc.

Contingent Labor (W-2 Hourly workers, 1099, etc.)

  • Talent who work hourly as short-term freelancers or long-term contractors through a third party, most often sourced via staffing firms, crowdsourcing platforms, or sourced by the Company and set up through a third-party payroll service

Managed In-House Agency/Studio (Managed Services)

  • Collocated with your organization, these are fully-embedded and dedicated creative teams who are fully managed by a third-party partner and work within the processes and business culture of the company

Business Process Outsourcers (BPO)

  • Typically located off-site, third-party partners (on-shore or off-shore) who serve to completely manage a specific creative or production process and associated body of work

Best-in-class in-house agencies have mastered the management of the talent supply chain listed above to access the right people today and as the needs of the organization continue to evolve. In most cases, this calls for very close-knit and regular collaboration between all parties involved, including full-time employees and any talent sourced through third-party partners. The agency's creative leaders' highest value is in serving in the role of "Chief Creative Steward," ensuring high quality, high impact outputs and that company stakeholders have access to the best creative resources at an appropriate cost to deliver those outputs.

Each talent acquisition channel can be particularly effective in providing your company with the right people, and each can be equally ineffective--it all depends on where and how you apply them. Your resourcing strategy should be evaluated against each unique work stream to enable consistent access to right-skilled, right-cost timely resources for each body of work. Often times, the in-house agency is expected to deliver on a scope of work that is much more diverse than any Agency of Record or Specialized Agency would be expected to deliver against, hence an appropriate resourcing strategy becomes all the more critical. One way to get started is to visualize your company's various work requirements and how the stages of the creative process (strategy, concepting, execution, production, etc.) map against the talent channels available to you. Your company also has a unique mix of operational requirements, financial goals and hiring constraints against which you'll need to weigh your options.

A select few in-house agencies are responsible for delivering on a very diverse set of capabilities, such as broadcast advertising, direct mail, app development and more, and will therefore be required to manage a very complex talent supply chain. Most teams, however, will address a much more focused mission and scope of work requirements which allows for a more simplified approach. What are the specific work streams that your in-house agency will need to manage, or may be potentially in scope for you to manage in the future? Which talent channels give you access to the right people at the right cost and can deliver on time given the work involved? How can your in-house agency assume the role of "Chief Creative Steward" to help your company ensure that creative resources are being sourced effectively and in a fiscally responsible manner?

In our final post of this series, we will explore what it looks like to bring all of this together in the form of a "center of creative excellence" for your company with the objective of maximizing the return on your company's investments in creative and content development resources. For now, keep Cella's consulting team in mind should your company require a formal needs analysis as your in-house agency continues to evaluate your scope of work and talent management requirements.