3 essential KPIs to align creative output with performance
| February 18, 2021
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are measures used to gauge the success of a business, a campaign, a project, an employee, or processes of production. For example, if you send a fax online with an invoice, an accounting department can use this as part of their KPIs to see the time it takes to receive payment of that invoice.
For creative teams, projects, or inputs, measuring performance can be difficult. Businesses with creative departments constantly question the value of those departments. And creative agencies are constantly trying to figure out how to align their output with their performance. Yet, even though creativity is not easy to define and is hard to measure, it is possible to assess its value using the following three indicators, among others.
Why Do KPIs Matter?
The most obvious benefit of tracking KPIs is the ability to measure input against its results, and those results against the performance of your project, campaign, business, etc. There are other benefits, including:
- The ability to see how far you are from goals or ideal results
- Boost your brand
- Informed decision-making
- Observing progress over a period of time
- Watching and improving productivity, efficiency, performance, use of resources, and standards
All these benefits build the direction of your company, ensuring the proper implementation of all business actions and decisions, and providing practical indicators of progress. With the indicators, you can measure small goals that all contribute to the overarching aims of the business’ brand strategy.
1. A Project’s Estimated vs. Actual Time
At the beginning of a project, it’s the standard that the client and creative consultant agree on a deadline for the project. The lead time is a metric that measures the time it takes to complete your project from proposal to product. Yes, this is its own metric.
Determining a deadline is the same as estimating a lead time. Observing your progress against the deadline gives you a brilliant idea of your productivity, guiding you on whether you need to increase the pace of your creative output.
Monitoring the estimated vs. real times of your creative team’s projects also allows you to have a better understanding of your performance capabilities. You can expand available resources to decrease the gap in the times, because a failure to deliver on time might mean the projects you’re taking on don’t match your capabilities (i.e., your staff is too small to handle a project or your workforce needs upskilling).
Understanding the trends in the times of different projects also helps you judge which kinds of tasks take longer to complete. This way you can allocate resources accordingly and prioritize processes that need more time to finish. Going forward, you can use this knowledge of your process times to give more realistic deadlines to customers.
- Set up milestones with their own deadlines (i.e., if you are developing a website, you might provide options of the best site designs as a deliverable). These help you monitor your headway against the bigger deadline.
- With milestones, you can also take note of which steps in your creative process take longer and find a way to cut that time.
- Implement more efficient communication channels like a virtual business number specifically for one client.
2. A Project’s Estimated vs. Actual Costs
This metric is similar to the first one except it compares the estimated budget stipulated at the beginning of the project to the actual cost of the final creative output. Budgets are key for creatives trying to create the best work while still generating profit.
Keeping an eye on this measurement assures clients that you spend money thoughtfully, and that profit is a priority. Businesses are about the bottom line, and cost-friendly projects favor their financial performance.
By illustrating cost-consciousness as a part of your creative process, you’re more likely to get future opportunities. You also make clear the value of your creative output for the performance of the organization.
- Use adjustable budget software like Excel where you can track dates, expenditure, and changes in the budget.
- When drafting a budget, conduct research on industry rates, factor in emergency expenditure, and consider cheaper alternatives for resources.
- Also, monitor the return on investment for the client from completed projects. (i.e., if the creative output is for a product campaign, track engagements with the project on social media platforms).
3. Customer Satisfaction
For creatives working on commissioned output (i.e., in agencies or for organizations) — which is what we’re talking about — customer service is key! Awareness of your customers’ feelings about completed projects helps you set a standard of performance and output that you can improve on.
Whether you’re working internally in a creative department or team, or as an independent contractor, if your client is unhappy with your product, they can stop working with you. You need to make sure your client is 100% pleased or risk replacement.
Plus, creating consistently great output emphasizes the value of your work for the organization.
- Post-project survey or a virtual phone call to discuss feedback.
- Video call with your team to discuss post-project feedback and areas to improve.
KPIs are a massive field of study, particularly for marketers and creatives, so these three metrics are not the only ones you can use for performance measurement. There are other metrics like employee well-being which you could consider. Deciding on the KPIs to lean on requires you to consider a range of factors. Those include your goals, your field, your creative process, the common kinds of creative projects you take on, resources, and much more.
However, these three KPIs give you a head start to measure you and/or your creative department’s performance. They highlight important factors in the relationship between creative output and performance: time, cost, and quality. And if you can nail these areas, you can establish yourself as a creative powerhouse that adds value to the performance of any organization!
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