The BOSS Group, Cella and InSource have teamed up to benchmark the in-house creative community for a third consecutive year. The results of this survey provide valuable insights, as well as a source of validation and direction to in-house creative leaders.

More than 425 leaders from in-house creative departments responded to our survey conducted in January 2013. These leaders represent Fortune 1000 companies, as well as middle market and other large companies, and span multiple industries including but not limited to retail, government contracting, financial services, pharmaceuticals, higher education, consumer packaged goods and services.

In-house creative leaders were asked to share their stories as they relate to shared challenges and goals across the industry. Topics covered include: inspiring your team, offshoring, developing new services, and growing your team's capabilities.

This 46-page report covers:

  • In-house reporting structure, staff size, and staffing strategy of your peers
  • Attrition rates, volume and overtime
  • The use of time tracking technology, creative briefs, and project tracking
  • Chargeback models – pros & cons, key challenges
  • Value proposition drivers of the in-house department
  • and more

Are internal clients required to use your group?

Most creative leaders prefer to be a service of choice versus a requirement to clients. As a required use your group may be viewed and therefore treated more as a commodity than an added-value organization. Whichever method is in place, the goal of the creative services team is to prove its value with its outstanding service and quality creative. This is simpler when you are the only in-house creative team at your company like the majority of respondents. When multiple groups exist, other variables need to be considered and sorted out such as clarity on the groups’ services, who to initiate a project with and how the groups collectively function, to name a few.

66% of creative leaders responded that their teams are the only in-house creative services group within the company.

How has your staff size changed between 2011 and 2012?

Comparable to our last two reports, approximately 50% of the creative teams reported their headcount remained the same, with more than a third increasing in size and 15% losing headcount. This is a steady trend for the third year in a row, indicating the need to increase staff but a creative leader’s responsibility to ensure it’s appropriate and justifiable.

This may affect the decrease of 5 percentage points from last year’s respondents indicating, their teams were appropriately staffed to meet client demand when considering full-time employees, as well as temporary resources. That number directly correlates to the percentage of creative leaders who are able to use flexible staff options (90%) during periods of peak demand. Including a budget that allows for flexibility is critical—in fact, your budget may be better spent in not hiring an FTE and instead using the funds for the employee to pay several temporary workers during peak periods.

57% of creative leaders indicated their team was appropriately staffed when considering full-time and contingent staff—this is 5 percentage points lower than last year.

Which of the following services does your department provide?

While graphic design and production design remain two of the top three services provided by in-house creative services teams, print production no longer is, with a noticeable decrease of 9 percentage points over last year. Brand management now falls in the top three services provided, with increased service offering in mobile and social media support as well. To complement growth in these services, 25% of creative leaders indicated their staffing mix has shifted such that the team increased its interactive/digital staff across the past year.

Print spending has continued to trend downward with 87% of creative teams indicating that print spend has either remained flat or has decreased in the past.

44% of respondents indicated that their in-house print options were restricted to standard printers and copiers alone. But almost 46% of respondents have access to color digital printers, and 27% have access to large format printers. 18 organizations reported having an offset press in house.

Does your team provide dedicated account management services to your clients? In other words, do you have team members responsible for serving client needs and not wearing another hat (e.g., designer, writer, etc.)?

Less than half of in-house creative services teams have a dedicated account or project management role providing exclusive service to clients. Though these roles sometimes may be viewed as unnecessary, they bring tremendous value to the greater group, allowing for others to concentrate on their specialty areas and work at hand. Given that the majority does not have these roles in place, it is not surprising to see Creative Directors and Lead Designers in client-facing roles taking in projects and reviewing iterations.

Creative leaders indicated that 65% of the time, their Creative Directors meet with clients to scope a new project, and 62% of the time, Lead Designers review iterations with clients.

Does your team use project tracking software?

Tracking project data continues to be a requirement for creative teams, no matter which mechanism you use. Every creative team needs to be tracking at the least the following data points in one central location: project name, project start and end date, project type, client name and business unit, and project tier. The majority of creative teams use an electronic solution to collect this data, which allows the creative leader and his or her team to more easily report on the data.

Respondents that use project tracking software were asked to provide the name of the system their teams use; no single system was dominant in the responses as 28 different solutions were represented.

Report Partners

Where Talent and Opportunity Meet

The BOSS Group is an award-winning creative staffing firm for interactive, creative and marketing talent. We’ve been supplying temporary, temp-to-hire, direct hire and managed services solutions to leading organizations across virtually every industry sector for 25 years. Our clients attest to our expertise in creative staffing, the high caliber of our talent and our track record of service excellence. The BOSS Group is the only creative staffing provider to be named a national Best of Staffing award recipient for four consecutive years. The BOSS Group has local offices in many major metropolitan areas and is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise and a member of the BLR Holdings family of companies.

Learn more about The BOSS Group at


Optimizing the Business Side of Creative

Cella provides consulting, coaching and training to help in-house creative services organizations operate more effectively. Our experienced consultants are each former creative leaders who’ve been in the trenches of corporate creative teams large and small. We offer insight and support to creative leaders and their teams on a variety of business operations challenges. Combining our past and current experience working with Fortune1000 creative teams around the country, Cella advises on topics such as Department Strategy and Positioning; Staff Structure, Roles and Development; Process, Technology and Metrics; and Client Relations. Cella is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise and a member of the BLR Holdings family of companies.

Learn more about Cella and read our CreativeExecs® blog at


Inhouse. Creative. Connected.

InSource in a nonprofit, volunteer-run, organization established to motivate creative thinking, promote best practices and enhance the understanding of in-house design within the corporate environment.

Committed to design excellence and effective design management, InSource provides in-house creative managers and leaders with the resources and networking opportunities needed to manage their business and maximize the impact and value they provide to their organization.

Learn more about InSource at


Please fill out the form to download your copy of the 2013 In-house Creative Industry Report.

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