According to our 2022 In-House Creative Industry Report, 91% of our respondents document their processes while fewer than 10% document little to none of theirs. This matters. Documented processes provide a baseline for continuous improvement and create a foundation for effective growth planning.
So how do you go about doing this? As a Six Sigma Black Belt, I like to follow the DMAIC approach to tackle this work which is a data-driven quality strategy used to improve processes.
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The first step is to identify the processes you want to improve and where they start and end. Start with answering whether your goal is to improve things from a high-level functional workstream level (e.g., the end-to-end marketing workflow) or from a more detailed, tactical level such as processing and fulfilling an Event Request.
Things to consider:
Where do you see opportunities for automation or streamlining work?
What causes your team the most headaches?
Where are you seeing errors and rework? Or duplicate entry?
What is delaying your project schedule?
Are roles & responsibilities clear?
Consider mapping processes by job type and tier and include a cross-functional team to ensure the process represents all perspectives.
If you are doing this process work to prepare for a technology implementation, consider which processes will be most impacted or supported by the tool.
Once you know what you want to improve, identify a cross-functional team to work on each process. Be sure to include representatives of all roles in the process (e.g., designers, writers, producers, managers etc) and those that are doers, thinkers – those closest to the work.
The last thing to define are the standard project phases so that you have a consistent structure to define, communicate and report on work progress. Cella has best practice guidelines on phases of work and can help you develop the phases that align with your workflow and processes.
When it comes to assessing whether the process work improved things for your organization – what does that look like to you? How will you measure the success of this work?
Things to consider:
Reduced cycle times
Consistency and standards
Gather current operating metrics so you have a baseline to compare against.
During the analysis phase, Cella will conduct the first of 3 workshops where we walk the cross-functional teams through an exercise to document the current state. The task-level steps associated with the current process are captured by phase, along with the responsible/involved roles. Note that only critical steps/actions/approvals and handoffs need to be included, and follow the 80/20 rule – documenting what occurs 80% of the time.
During the second workshop, Cella will present the current state mapped in a process diagram. The steps are represented by boxes in their associated swimlane (representing the role responsible) and column (project phase).
Now the fun starts…. Cella invites the team members to share where they experience pain points, challenges, risks, and obstacles by phase, and brainstorm ideas on how to get to an improved state. Again, if this work is being done in advance of a technology implementation – be sure to call out touchpoints with the new tool.
Next Cella will analyze all that was discussed and map a proposed future or ‘better’ state. This is then reviewed and validated with the team in the 3rd workshop.
The final DMAIC phase is Control and this work is left up to the team post-implementation of the process improvements. Especially in the creative world, processes should be workable and continuously reevaluated, not rigidly adhered to. The process documentation should be viewed as a living, breathing document that is updated over time on a regular basis as your business grows and evolves.
Things to consider:
Establish baselines and goals to improve them over time
Monitor process adherence
Establish and review metrics to gauge effectiveness
Establish a framework and cadence for continuous improvement
Most organizations can benefit from a re-visioning of status quo. Change can be a very positive move to a more efficient and effective organization. And if you need assistance in that process, Cella specializes in helping clients identify opportunities for improving marketing and creative processes along with more effective use of technology in support of these processes.
"Coming Soon - Part 2: Importance of Process Improvement"
For information about how Cella can support your Marketing and Creative department needs, please email [email protected]. To learn more about our services, visit www.cellainc.com/services/consulting.