Finance and Budgeting

How an Agency Finance Department Functions Alongside Creative

by Mike Wang, March 10, 2016


In many creative agencies, cross-departmental integration is often discussed, but ultimately ignored. Traditionally speaking, those that work in the much-lauded creative capacity often get all of the credit. While the creative department does write copy, coordinate art direction, and ultimately, provide the bread and butter of an agency, it’s important to remember that an organization is far greater than its imaginative ideas.

In many agencies, operational and financial integration are not aligned very well. Many organizations have disparate performance indicators that measure success. And sometimes, finance and creative never even interact.

From a top-down perspective, striving for better alignment of creative and financial management is a no-brainer.

Not only does alignment provide management on both sides with insight and control, it provides both departments with a higher predictability of financial results. Increased insight and predictability allows an agency to be transparent and confident—plus, it allows for a more regulated approach to success.

Why is financial information crucial for creative?

To begin, creative managers should always be able to see the financial consequences of their operational goals and expectations. As we just mentioned, creative departments are often considered the be-all and end-all of operations.

However, when we consider an agency’s lifeblood, finances suddenly become more relevant. Financial results are the bottom line for every single business function—and creative managers should use them as benchmarks to measure success.

Financial information regarding business performance is not limited to the consolidated, individual results of departments. Instead, success must be measured as indirect contributions to business functions. Finance is the language of business—and success is expressed in terms of cost and revenue.

How should financial managers operate with creative?

Financial departments analyze large financial overviews in spreadsheet format, often utilizing P&L reports, balance sheets, and cash flow overviews. While creative managers are no strangers to spreadsheets, sometimes, financial information reads as a foreign language.

With this in mind, it’s important to develop an internal methodology to distribute and share information. Financial information should be distributed in a digestible, intuitive manner that utilizes graphics. In order to truly collaborate, management from both departments needs to be willing to work from a variety of sources, including data from both financial and project management systems. This can include things such as recent budget performance, project profitability, and hourly productivity of employees.

Luckily for both departments, the best financial software option for creative teams integrates enterprise financial management systems with project management software. Not only does finance get advanced accounting software, they get software that has been designed from the ground up that encourages cross-departmental communication.

From streamlining the agency and client billing process, to adding customized details to invoices, robust software enables finance and creative to work in a truly integrated manner.

Creative Agency Management Software Comparison Guide

About The Author

Mike joined Workamajig back in 1997 and now serves as the Workamajig Director of Training and Support.

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