What content strategy and technology will leading brands use in 2024?

The state of digital content 2024

Industry insights

How to embrace a creative operations mindset

by Canto  |  July 29, 2022

7 min. read
Woman at laptop surrounded by features from creative operations software.

Creative operations are the intertwining of business and creativity. It’s a system that provides structure and support for creative professionals, assisting them in the creative process to help projects move along quicker and more efficiently. Creative operations consist of things like project management, creative briefs, communication with both project owners and the creative team, project updates, review, and revisions, and of course- the final delivery. Digital asset management (DAM) also falls within the mix of creative operations. Whether a project calls for photos, videos, miscellaneous documents, or a combination of them all, finding a way to organize them in an efficient way is imperative to a seamless process.

The three S’s of creative operations

When delivering the best possible product, several crucial factors drive the need to implement a creative operations framework. Think of them as the 3 S’s:


Deadlines, deadlines, and more deadlines! When working with a project-oriented creative team, there will always be a timeline of when things need to get done. Organizations need to be able to deliver top-notch creative content in a timely manner, with the possibility of encountering hurdles along the way. Communication from clients may be lacking, or various approvals and resources may be hard to get, all of which can cause a halt to a creative process. Another roadblock that may affect time management is being able to locate the right assets for a project.


The number of people involved in a creative process is another reason creative operations are needed. A huge part of building something new is the constant need for communication and collaboration with everyone involved. This rings true for everyone working in part with the creative process, no matter the number, and whether they are inside the organization or not. Creative operations ensure the roles of each individual person involved is clear and concise. If not, this can cause confusion and crossover. In turn, the creative process suffers.


Creative operations are like putting down the foundation for a house (with less heavy lifting!). When utilizing digital assets and collaboration for creation of a project, there needs to be clear steps and a vision in place for everyone to adhere to. This could mean thoroughly conveying what a client is looking for, splitting up the content and tasks for the creative team, or making sure everyone is aware of when communication is needed. Without the creative operations structure in place, uncertainty of the final product will only continue to linger and delay the creative workflow process even more.

How creative operations differs from project management

While project management can act like a sister to creative operations, they aren’t twins and must work together to be effective. A successful creative operations team requires a distinct and diverse set of skills.

Project management

This type of management is more straightforward and methodical. With a goal in mind, project managers require exceptional organizational, time management, and communication skills. Managers will analyze the resources and budget at hand to lay out a plan that will lead to the overall project goal. Here are some of the questions that a leader should be able to answer in the realm of project management:

  • What is the project timeline?
  • How many people are involved and what are their roles?
  • Who oversees revisions?
  • How are revisions given and sent back?

Creative operations

For those bringing on their artistic talents to a team, the skills are little more varied. In addition to making sure things are organized and timely, team members must become familiar with mastering all types of content and digital assets. This could mean collaborating on writing, design, photography, and other creative outlets to help bring the project to life. Here are some common questions that could be answered in the realm of creative operations:

  • How does the company want the project to look?
  • How will we manage digital assets?
  • How can we use digital assets to create the best results?
  • The impact of a creative mindset

Think of a time in your life when a business stood out to you. Maybe it was a cool slogan, picture, or catchy jingle you couldn’t get out of your head. No matter what came to mind, it more than likely required a combination of creativity and organization to deliver the finished product. Ideas and originality are what draw people in, but a finished product would not be able to develop without a plan in place.

A structured, creative operation is what helps brings those ideas to life. Within the framework of creating a project, a team is given ample time for collaboration, which helps to expand ideas, and be able to see a creative vision clearly. Weaving in time for revisions along the way also works to steer the project in the right direction while still adhering to the timeline.

Illustration of puzzle pieces fitting together, representing creative operations.

Getting started on your new creative operations workflow

So, you want to implement creative operations, but don’t know where to start? Every creative process is different for each organization. It’s important to find out what works best for your team, but if you still aren’t sure, start with the basics:

1. Gather your team of experts

In order to start improving your creative operation, you need to have your team established. If the project heavily revolves around graphic design, find the person that knows the ins and outs of design. If needed, establishing a creative operations manager can help for a smoother transition, especially if hiring new employees is necessary. The manager can also help your team adopt a clear indication of what each person is responsible for, how they should communicate, and how they contribute to making sure the vision is brought to life.

2. Figure out a game plan for managing digital assets

Once you have your teams established, it’s time to get to the nitty gritty and start creating! Having an outlet to store digital assets and share them with other team members is the most important step to making sure everyone is on the same page. If each team member is storing files in different places and other team members cannot access them, important details of your project have a good chance of being forgotten about, lost, or both. In fact, 33.4% of marketers spend about three weeks per year trying to locate or recreate missing assets. Utilizing a digital asset management platform like Canto allows you to store all digital assets needed for the project in one versatile platform and determine who has access to each one. Whether you are using photos, videos, audio files, or any other documents, you can secure them on Canto and optimize assets in real-time as you work on a project.

3. Take note of what works for your team

Forming a well-oiled machine of a team doesn’t happen on the first try. If you notice that the way your team is pitching ideas or communicating is not working to its fullest potential, there’s no shame in adjusting. Taking a step back to analyze the dynamic of your team can only make things stronger as the process moves forward.

In addition to making changes on the operations side of things, revising the creative work and adapting to different needs is equally as beneficial to the creative process. When using a digital asset management system, you can easily make changes for everyone to see. This way, new developments and changes to the project are streamlined and transparent.

Let’s get working!

As businesses grow and projects become more frequent, digital assets grow along with it. So, no matter what big idea you’re working on, Canto is an easy way make sure it’s done right. Digital asset management with Canto can ensure that your files are organized, easily accessible, and secure. While other DAM software may upcharge for basic functions, Canto is cost-effective, and helps your business save time, money, and hassle.

For more on how your team can master creativity, sign up today for a free Canto trial.