Nothing is more obvious to our in-house creative teams and us than the fact that we have clients. Without those clients there's no reason for an internal group to even exist, so we spend all of our energy and place all of our focus on providing these clients with the best service and creative deliverables we can muster.

They're not our only clients though. There are at least two other classes of clients our teams and we should be aware of, as we're equally accountable to them as well. The first is the organization for which we work; the second is upper management, potentially including Marketing, Finance and Procurement. These clients have expectations and mandates very different and, possibly at times, in conflict with our creative services clients.

Our organizations, at a high level, require that we act as brand stewards who have immersed ourselves in the corporate culture and as a result have a broad and deep knowledge of the organization's personality, voice, mission, vision and (of course) branding guidelines. When we work on jobs for our immediate clients, we should always incorporate organizational branding mandates in our work, educating our clients and even pushing back on them if they attempt to circumvent established branding priorities.

Aside from being empowered to act as an advocate for our "organizational client," possessing this institutional knowledge positions our teams to provide new services and value to our organizations. A good example of this is the trend of companies moving responsibility for managing social media in-house and away from external agencies. The fact that we live our organization's brand allows us to more effectively and quickly execute on ever-shifting social media needs as representatives of our organizations.

The second group of sometimes forgotten and often invisible clients requires that we successfully meet a decidedly more business-oriented and financial set of expectations. In the increasingly cost-conscious corporate landscape that we exist in, it's just not enough to produce great work on time, on budget and with a smile. We need to deliver those services and creative productively and cost effectively. The measures of this type of success include KPIs that track efficiency (man hours per deliverable), utilization (billable time of team members), project duration (the time to execute on a job from project initiation to close out) and estimates vs. actuals (the team's ability to accurately forecast job costs and efficiently execute on those forecasts).

It's imperative then that we put in place the infrastructure needed to track and improve on these metrics. Time tracking, and not just capturing hours, but attaching accurate task descriptions, job designations and distinguishing between billable and non-billable time, is critical. Capturing this data in a way that allows for accurate and rapid reporting on this data is equally critical. Finally, our teams have to be educated on and committed to entering this data. While putting these tools and practices in place is no easy matter, without it, we're falling very short on a responsibility we have towards our business clients that not only leaves us vulnerable to downsizing or outright dissolution, it shortchanges on our ability to truly evolve as a group in ways that enhance our value proposition to our organizations.

The mandates of these often quiet (until there's an audit!) and unobtrusive clients necessitate that we not just pay attention to our squeaky wheel creative services clients but proactively put in place training, metrics and operational best practices that meet additional expectations of not just what we produce but how well we produce it.