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Creative Production: Onboarding

11th August 2020
Reading time 7 min
Creative Production: Onboarding

Onboarding can greatly impact a company’s processes and efficiency. Therefore, successful onboarding should minimise disruption within the teams, streamline any old and new processes and try to avoid any gaps in current work being provided. Transitions can be daunting for upper level management and are not decisions that should be taken lightly. To ensure a smooth transition it is vital that all involved are properly trained and armed with the correct tools and information they will need. Best practises should be analysed and followed closely. An encouraging, respectful and learning environment should be nurtured. And of most importance is open communication between all stakeholders, this cannot be stressed enough.

The workload of the project is assessed, this includes nature of work, origin, frequency, volume, and seasonality. Future projections are then more accurately forecasted based on this analysis and the agency can be better prepared for a higher or lower workload at any time. This includes establishing a backup team for unforeseen circumstances that may require a significant unexpected workload to be produced quickly.

The goal is to minimise the demand on employees, streamline processes and complete the service offering while keeping security, reliability and flexibility. To do this there are eight key work streams that should be followed.

  • Contract and legal (final contract requirements)
  • Finance (invoicing, fees)
  • People and resources (talent movement, teams, organisation)
  • Strategy and planning (communications strategy, research and insights, orientations)
  • Creative (guidelines, orientations)
  • Account management (ways of working, knowledge transfer, asset archives)
  • Technology (systems and protocols, live asset transfer)
  • Tools and systems (third party tools, client tools, project management)

Five phases to follow when planning any onboarding:

1. Meet & Learn

  • Plan a face-to-face workshop in order to meet in person
  • Introduce key transition teams and clearly define roles
  • Understand the current way of working, requirements, objectives and timelines
  • Identify the required scope of work
  • Create contracts

2. Analyse & Propose

  • Review learnings from the workshop
  • Create a detailed transition plan
  • Create a staffing plan for the newly integrated teams
  • Make newly appointed agency teams aware of master brand guidelines and other regulatory rules
  • Set KPIs and performance criteria

3. Determine & Set Rules

  • Establish operational rules of engagement in order to drive efficiency
  • Plan buy-in communications for stakeholders
  • Customise workflows, tools and trainings
  • Arrange collection of assets from incumbent agencies
  • Organise agency staff to be trained on brand guidelines
  • Review local and global operational rules
  • Establish a financial structure
  • Off-board incumbent agencies and onboard local marketing teams

4. Launch & Begin Work

  • Plan and perform actual handover
  • Run pilot phase
  • Perform full kick-off
  • Start servicing local markets

5. Analyse & Optimise

  • Monitor and manage collaboration
  • Update key stakeholders on progress
  • Implement regular client satisfaction surveys
  • Develop appropriate action plan
  • Watch, learn and improve

The on-boarding should be led by an on-boarding director as it requires a high time investment and the project and creative teams need to dedicate their time solely on the assigned day to day work. It should be this person driving and managing the transition on the clients behalf ensuring smoothness with limited investment. The objective is to have all members of the team fully understand all processes.

”The on-boarding should be led by an on-boarding director as it requires a high time investment and the project and creative teams need to dedicate their time solely on the assigned day to day work.”

3 main factors influencing the on-boarding strategy and tactics including timings:

Time pressure From when will the client reap the benefits of transformation.

Expected workload A ‘start slow, think big, move fast’ staggered model of on-boarding markets should be implemented and allows the agency and client to learn about and from each other, test the approach and optimise it in a pilot phase before moving to other markets. The transition phase could start immediately. After a transition period where the majority of aspects of the cooperation are ironed out a pilot phase for an agreed period of time should start. After the pilot phase evaluation and immersion into the key learnings, the rest of the countries are able to be onboarded.

Local team’s level of collaboration Local clients’ resistance to the new way of working would significantly slow down the on-boarding process and possibly kill the transition completely or at least reduce the potential benefits. There must be a willingness on both sides, the agency and the client.

Two models of cooperation - proposition/imposition:

Strong discipline to follow global decision vs. decentralised ‘voluntary opt-in-model’


  • More decentralised
  • Slower
  • Less control
  • Lower benefit


  • More centralised
  • Faster
  • More control
  • Higher benefit

Ensure both marketing departments and agency teams are involved

Once a company chooses to decouple, it is important for marketing and procurement to identify, plan and create a strategy, which includes developing a list of required production services and suppliers. There may be push back from agencies that previously provided these services, so a solution may be to ask the agency to get involved with securing this list and, furthermore, identify buy-in approaches in order to satisfy needs from every party.

From the initial stages, it is important to understand the logistical nuances of each region’s communications before creating or adopting solutions. Marketers should be aware of markets’ localisation and transcreation requirements, production processes or cross-border issues in order to implement the most efficient communications and workflow.

Although production decoupling models are unique to every business, there are certain key components that are important when developing solutions. The first step is for the creative agency to develop global brand assets and provide them to a localisation agency. This agency can, then, use their transcreation expertise to create localised assets quickly and within budget. In order to successfully roll out to local markets, the agency may consider creating “hubs” in various countries. A close proximity to local markets is a key factor in the success of hubs. For an APAC based hub it makes more sense to set up shop in Singapore for example, and a European based hub would manage its markets better in Prague. Once each of the hubs understands their positions and responsibilities, suppliers must be sourced. It is important to choose a supplier that completely understands the brand’s culture, values and requirements.

A critical component of the decoupling approach is ongoing evaluation and benchmarking objectives, SLAs and KPIs. This allows marketers to prove that they are working within budget restraints to effectively and successfully distribute communications to all markets – all while adhering to the company’s needs, values and standards. Ultimately, production decoupling allows companies to maximise their agency’s efficiency and utilise specialised implementation staff.

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