The Marketing and Creative Operations landscape has become increasingly complex as the possibilities for consuming content continues to evolve. With growing content options and locations, teams are faced with increased volumes- for high quality channel specific content. The value of Marketing and Creative Operations leaders goes far beyond meeting content demands, the true value lies in their ability to be a strategic partner to the organization.  

An effective leader is comfortable making decisions and is trusted by senior leadership to guide the business. The marketing space is going to keep evolving and the job of managing operations is going to continue to grow in complexity. How do you become a leader that is comfortable with decision making when the landscape is changing so rapidly? For an Operations leader that starts with being strategic and understanding your operation inside and out. Here are a few best practices to lay the foundation for the strategic management of your Marketing or Creative Operation. 

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Create the Ability to Measure.

Data will support defining the department’s value to the organization as well as provide the inputs necessary for strategic decision making. Operational data is not a nice-to-have if you want to be a strategic partner, it is a must-have. Operational KPIs will monitor the health of your operation and provide key insights into opportunities and risks. Paired with performance data (how a campaign or asset performed), you now have significant knowledge to support informed decision making. KPIs should accurately tell the story of your unique operation. This will likely involve measuring multiple metrics to tell the correct story of each KPI. For example, to monitor an “Accuracy” KPI, you may need to measure multiple metrics, such as:

  • On Time Requests- the request due date versus request delivery date

  • Internal Quality- the internal initiated error of a request from a review

  • Estimate Accuracy Time- the estimated time versus actual time to complete a request 

  • Estimate Accuracy Cost- the estimated cost versus the actual cost to complete a request

  • Customer Quality- the customer-initiated error of a request


  • Define the KPIs that tell the story of your operation. Clarify what should be measured and why. If there are gaps in what can be measured currently, openly communicate these gaps. Identify the blockers preventing you from getting at the correct data and develop a plan to close those gaps. 

  • Make decisions taking what you do NOT know into consideration. You may decide to use an external solution before hiring in-house because of the absence of relevant data to ensure informed decisions are being made. For example, if you only measure the throughput of your operation and not the work you rejected, or did not prioritize, then you may be missing valuable insight into what opportunities are being missed and why. 

  • Capture data user stories.  Know how the users will need the information displayed in order for it to be meaningful. These user stories will guide how data is gathered and the creation of reports and dashboards. If the data for an “On Time” metric reports at 50%, you will be alerted that you have a problem, but with only that information it is difficult to understand how serious the issue is or where to begin making corrections. One hour late is very different than 14 days. The information will likely be more useful if it is displayed in hours or days late. The ability to slice the information further, for example by region or asset type, will likely help to identify and resolve issues more rapidly. 

Do Not: 

  • Report on KPIs if you do not have confidence in the data. Being open about the lack or quality of data required to make informed decisions is honest and should build trust, it takes an expert to identify gaps and demonstrates a true mastery of operational data. 

Know Your Creative Operation’s Value Proposition to the organization.

Cost, quality, timeliness, adaptability, whatever the value to the organization is, you should know where you stand on each measure. Be ready to share your logic for calculating cost savings/ avoidance, measuring quality (both qualitative and quantitative) and measuring timeliness. Validate your value proposition and gather feedback from your business partners to determine the perception of your operations. 


  • Understand the business needs. Make sure your value proposition is in-line with what your company needs are. If your team’s value proposition is brand voice and as such your quality is seen as high but you are unable to deliver in the time frames that meet the business requirements, you need a plan to address this because your value proposition is falling short. 

  • Align goals that ladder up to organizational goals and focus on your value proposition as it relates to the overall vision for the organization. Use your well defined KPIs to measure and track goal success and the impact of these efforts. 

  • Use data to determine the Return on Investment (ROI) from operational efforts and goals. This will help the organization understand what good looks like and support accurate resource allocation for the team.


  • Feel you need to be the best on every measure. Your internal operation may not compare on every level with an agency or external resources, if you are meeting the business need it may not be the right decision to commit resources to being competitive in every area. If you know the reality of your strengths, you can use the information to make informed decisions that result in benefiting the organization. Just be sure to monitor and validate your value proposition often to make sure you are evolving in-line with the organization's needs.

For leaders in the Marketing and Creative Operations space who are interested in evolving strategically and would like more information on developing KPI or determining their teams Value Proposition, Cella Consulting can offer support.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Strategic Leadership in the Creative and Marketing Space where we will dive into the importance of understanding your process and systems.

For information about how Cella can support your Marketing and Creative department needs, please email [email protected]To learn more about our services, visit