This Old In-house: The Priority Panacea

One often ignored practice that is absolutely critical to any in-house team’s success is prioritization – and not just of live projects. In addition to the obvious need to know which jobs should be worked on first, staff functions, resource requests, short and long-term studio initiatives and clients/businesses should also be ranked by importance and in what order they should be addressed.

Staff Functions

It’s great to have a position description but with multiple, and sometimes competing functions, it’s just as important that those responsibilities be listed in order of importance. If a designer is required to create new package designs but also research design pubs for inspirational material, join with account reps on client meetings and support the production team by prepping files, it’s critical to define which responsibilities come first if there’s ever a conflict. This will help staff make informed judgment calls when competing interests call for a choice.

Resource Requests

Every group needs more of something – staff, training, upgraded hardware, magazines etc. There’s very little chance of getting everything at the same time so requests should be made incrementally (that means pretty much one at a time) so you don’t overwhelm upper management and Finance. The 2 criteria to use are which requests will have the biggest impact on your efficiency and productivity (read cost savings) and which do you have the best chance of getting buy-in on because of cost.

Long-term Initiatives

Face it, any studio improvement projects such as creating SOPs, position descriptions or marketing plans are going to be shoehorned in between working on the day-to-day responsibilities the team has. This means that the prioritization for these types of activities needs to be based on a combination of emphasizing quick wins and impact. The initiatives that can be achieved relatively quickly and will have a powerful effect on the group are the ones hat should be undertaken first. Then, depending on timing, the smaller quick projects and the more complex high impact ones can be put into play.


Which clients or business units have the biggest impact on the company’s bottom line and mission? HR may be an easy consistent client making them desirable to service but if R&D or Sales consistently bring in jobs more critical to the business, then they are the groups that should get the lion’s share of the team’s attention and focus.

Prioritization can and should be applied to all activities an in-house team undertakes. It is a discipline that, when practiced correctly, can be the determining factor of a corporate creative group’s success.