The challenge of assessing the quality of your in-house creative team's output is such an important facet of your value proposition and so difficult to measure that this piece will take a deeper dive into this topic, which I originally addressed in my last post, Qualitative Design Metrics.

Business executives value expert assessments of a company's or department's execution of its mandated responsibilities and deliverables. Often this occurs under the guise of an audit conducted by a respected consulting firm. This fact underscores the importance of the fourth recommendation in my previous post was to "solicit industry expert ratings" by bringing in design experts to objectively evaluate your group's work.

Unfortunately, there are no creative industry counterparts focused on evaluating the quality of creative to the business world's Ernst and Young, McKinsey or Accenture consultancies but there are individuals who are widely recognized as creative industry experts whom you can engage.

Principals in respected design firms such as Pentagram, Landor and Sterling Brands including Michael Bierut, Paula Scher and Debbie Millman, all of whom have experience in partnering with in-house groups, could be brought in to assess your team. Creative industry organizations may also help with referrals. AIGA, DMI and AMA are a few of the nonprofit associations you can contact.

If you do convince your management team to engage a consultant, it's in your best interest to involve them in the search and vetting process so that they will be completely aware of the expert's credentials and the field in general.

The fifth recommendation in my previous post was to "enter awards competitions," and I have one additional related recommendation to share: make sure to enter both open and in-house only events. This affords you the opportunity to compare your team's work to both agencies and peer in-house teams in other companies.

And finally, here are three more recommendations on ways to assess the quality of your team's creative output:

  • Conduct annual or biannual output comparison presentations.
    Nothing showcases your team's qualitative successes and improvements more than conducting a side-by-side review of your team's work from year to year. It provides a perspective that few managers or clients would ever have come to on their own.
  • Create a creative brief/deliverable assessment.
    This is a narrower version of the case study exercise (recommendation 2 in previous post) where you focus on how and how well a creative deliverable met the specific objectives outlined in the project's creative brief.
  • Conduct a quality/user experience survey for the end users of your team's deliverable.
    Though harder to administer, this is a potentially more powerful assessment of a project's success than a client survey. Clients can have their own agenda and a possibly inaccurate view of whether your team's work actually hit the mark. If the project is for internal use only, you have a pretty good chance of being able to contact and solicit feedback from users than if the work went out to the public.
  • With the range of options for measuring the quality of your department's creative, you should be able to implement at least one or two assessment initiatives. Your ability to position your group as a valued contributor to your company's success rests on your success in showcasing quality--not just quantity.