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Data Driven Vendor Management with Adam Parker

Chief evangelist at Creative Force
Creative Operations Consultant

Summary

If your studio has never managed a post production vendor before, the task can seem daunting. But with a little preparation and an understanding of your own studio KPIs, you can rely on the data to help build that relationship. That's one of the great things about data, it becomes that source of truth that, with some transparency and communication, clearly indicates whether the relationship is working or not. Adam Parker joins Daniel for this episode of the podcast to discuss how KPIs can support your vendor and your team in growth and process improvement.

Key Takeaways

  • Data and metrics can help ease the difficulty of managing a post production vendor, especially for the inexperienced studio.
  • It starts with understanding your studios specific needs. What is your expected SLA? What specific tasks need to be performed?
  • Take a look at some of the industry leaders for Post Production and determine who fits your needs.
  • Be open and transparent about your studio needs and how you expect the vendor to perform.
  • Keep regular check-ins with your vendor and use that time to review performance, include the data points you've been tracking.
  • Use this opportunity to grow your own team professionally, involve them in the management process.

Links & Resources

Full episode transcript

Daniel Jester:

From creative force, I'm Daniel Jester and this is The E-commerce Content Creation Podcast. My old friend Adam Parker joins me for this, our 70th episode of this podcast. The KPI Guide, a collaboration between Adam and Creative Force will be releasing some new chapters and Adam and I catch up to talk a bit about them. We focus in on the ins and outs of managing a post-production vendor as a commercial studio, including how to establish an outsource program and what types of studio metrics may benefit from such a relationship.

Adam Parker:

And so if you're able to have people literally working on images while you sleep. You're going to see that cycle time for images and post-production come drastically down. And that's a great way to really show to leadership who might not have a clear insight into your operations just how much you've quickly made a massive gain by dropping something down from 36 hours, which is totally normal if someone has to work on something for a day down to effectively zero hours or six or eight hours overnight while folks sleep.

Daniel Jester:

I don't have anything else to say on this side of the pull quote so let's go. This is The E-commerce Content Creation Podcast. I am your host Daniel Jester. Joining me for this episode for round three in the ring, I guess, to use a fighting metaphor, Adam Parker. Welcome to the show Adam.

Adam Parker:

Thank you for having me Daniel. Good to be here again.

Daniel Jester:

Our listeners probably remember you from past episodes because you have been working on for, how long has it been now? More than a year, kind of working our way through a very useful, very insightful KPI Guide which can be found at creativeforce.io. Adam, have we released chapters seven, eight and nine of this guide or are they releasing imminently as we record this?

Adam Parker:

I believe they are releasing imminently as we record this. I will have to say that I've completed them, but I'm not running the release schedule.

Daniel Jester:

Is that a dig at me and my team? Is that what this is about?

Adam Parker:

It is indeed. It is indeed. Put it out. The people want it. It's done.

Daniel Jester:

You've come on the show in support of you were one of the first podcast guests on the show where we talked about KPIs in general, about your studio, how to identify them. And you came back for another episode where we talked specifically about reporting for the studio and gave some tips and ideas on kind of how to talk up to senior leadership about things that are going on in the studio.

Daniel Jester:

In the latest chapters of the KPI guide that are releasing chapters 7, 8, 9, you touch on a lot of things, individual photographer and stylist, throughput in reporting. Maybe more photographer than stylist tends to be measured more often in most studios. You talk a little bit about KPIs that help you manage vendors such as a post production vendor. And forgive me off the top of my head, Adam, I can't remember what chapter nine focuses on.

Adam Parker:

Flow reporting.

Daniel Jester:

Flow reporting.

Adam Parker:

Yeah, flow reporting.

Daniel Jester:

I read through these chapters. I want to talk with you specifically because I think this is an interesting topic for a lot of listeners of this podcast. And you framed the chapter about KPIs for managing your vendors in a really interesting way. Most studios, you and I have talked to a lot of studios, worked in a lot of studios. You many, many more than I have.

Daniel Jester:

Most studios are operating some kind of a vendor relationship for post production. There are definitely studios out there that are handling it 100% in-house, they have a full team of retouchers and things. But even from the earliest days of e-commerce content creation was not uncommon to have your studio send images out for simple pathing dropping out the background, that kind of thing, some kind of a hybrid workflow.

Daniel Jester:

We're going to take a little bit of a step back for this conversation and kind of pretend that there's this studio out there that has never done this. They've always handled it 100% in-house. They want to make a move towards using a post-production vendor to help manage. There's a lot of great reasons to do this.

Daniel Jester:

But as you very wisely pointed out that studio, that's never done it before now is kind of entering into the business of managing a vendor, and that means some things. So what does it mean for the studio that suddenly finds itself in a relationship where they need to manage a vendor set up like? I guess we should start at maybe setting up a vendor communicating expectations and then managing that relationship.

Adam Parker:

Managing a vendor is a completely different skill set than retouching images quite obviously. And so that brings its own challenges, as well as opportunities to your team. I don't think most studios are necessarily in a situation where they've never worked with a vendor. They've at least considered it, unless you're a pretty small studio.

Adam Parker:

And that is the way I kind of set up the start of this chapter, is talking about different innovations in the post production industry and how things have been changing. But how one thing that seems to be either a constant or increasing is exactly what you said, which is more people are at least outsourcing some portion of their workflow, whether it's backgrounds or clipping or whether it's the entire post process.

Adam Parker:

So like you said, and like this chapter's about somewhat, managing these vendors becomes part of that. There's a lot of cool opportunities when you start thinking about career paths within your team. Post production can be a difficult career path to lay out a trajectory for. You retouch images or you become a senior retoucher.

Adam Parker:

It's not as clear cut as with a photographer where you can become a lead photographer. You might become an art director, you might become a director. There's more clear trajectories for other roles. And so this is one really cool opportunity for retouching roles to really grow their professional experience and take on things like managing vendors, looking at budget, looking at efficiency and just making themselves more valuable.

Daniel Jester:

A really poignant point that you made in there is that the skillset of managing a vendor that is handling some post production for you is dramatically different from doing the work yourself in house. And so if you are this sort of like admittedly fictitious studio that maybe has been around for a few years and has been doing it 100% in house, you're going to have to learn some things about how to manage that vendor.

Daniel Jester:

And thankfully what we have to help manage that relationship and one of the things that can help you manage it in a way that is really fair and fruitful for everyone involved is using data and KPIs. And this is what we mentioned earlier about setting expectations. So if we were going to take our retouch team and we're going to say, hey, from here on out, we're going to outsource the initial let's just even say like super basic bare bone simple, we're just going to send them out and they're just going to get pads drawn.

Daniel Jester:

And that's not an uncommon thing. So there are some studios and you see more and more, you've seen more and more the trend over recent years especially in apparel and fashion that we're not necessarily knocking out backgrounds on model photography anymore, we're leaving that context in the image. But you still need to path the apparel and different vendors have different things that they consider important, but it could be everything from your pathing out the model to your pathing out each individual garment and the hair and the skin so that you can tweak them individually.

Daniel Jester:

And so we're starting there. We were doing this in house. We realized that we're maybe not spending the right amount of money for the value. How can we go about starting to define this a little bit and where do we start this?

Adam Parker:

A journey of a thousand steps begins with one pilot program. You got to start somewhere.

Daniel Jester:

Nice.

Adam Parker:

And I would suggest a pilot would suggest a pilot program to begin. There's no reason that you need to cut over all of your retouching on one day to this new vendor and just let the chips fall where they may. Change management is a really important part of creative operations in general.

Adam Parker:

And I think that for a project like this picking maybe a subcategory of your products and only doing say t-shirts and sending those to an external vendor so that there's a manageable project or even better, comparing apples to apples and shooting all of your say t-shirts and sending them to your existing team, your existing vendor, your in-house team, whatever the status quo is and then sending a section of those out to an external vendor.

Adam Parker:

And so that's just a low risk way to start this project, but then no project should really be started without a goal. We don't just want to work for the sake of work. And so that's where those clear KPIs and those metrics for success come into play. Like why are you undertaking this project in general? There's pretty common reasons. Speed, quality, cost budget is a huge reason that motivates people to explore this option.

Adam Parker:

But having like a clear metric for success, if your goal is we need to reduce our budget by $500,000 over the next year, then you can work back from that and create KPIs around what your price per image needs to be from an external vendor or what your post spend can be monthly or something like that so that you can start to get those KPIs in place, get measurements for them and track them in your studio and make sure that you're setting yourself up to hit your goals.

Daniel Jester:

Speed, quality, and cost is definitely something that I want to touch on with you in terms of spinning those out into KPIs. You so rightly point out in the KPI Guide those are the things that are important to senior leadership when you're reporting on.

Daniel Jester:

But the one that I want to explore a little bit with you because you and I both know the shenanigans that the budget departments at a brand or retailer come up with when it comes to how they allocate salaries for full-time employees versus spending on a vendor, there's a lot of shell game stuff that it's almost as those salaries don't necessarily count or hit the bottom line of studios in some cases. But if you're paying out money to a vendor, they absolutely are going to pay a lot of attention to that.

Adam Parker:

Totally.

Daniel Jester:

There's a lot of inherent value above and beyond the price per image. To be clear, again, we know that the audience of this podcast know all about this stuff. But just to kind of lay it out in its most basic terms, most of the time you're paying a price per image to your vendor and it's going to be a cost.

Daniel Jester:

It becomes an accounts payable thing, and therefore goes under a different amount of scrutiny than whatever your ongoing salaries for your in-house retouchers or post production people are. It's important to acknowledge that depending on who you are, $2 per image, and depending on how many images you have, 2 or $3 per image, whatever the cost is can look like a lot if you're a high volume studio.

Daniel Jester:

But it's important to take into account at least on the cost metric what that means in terms of the time that you're saving your team because one of the key benefits and you've touched on it already, Adam, in my opinion is oftentimes our vendors are in a different time zone.

Daniel Jester:

Oftentimes on the other side, we're in the United States, a lot of times these vendors are in Asian or European countries and that means that they're starting their day is your ending your day and that often if you've got a great vendor that can handle high volume, often they're getting things to you the next day. So in effect, you're expanding your operational capabilities in terms of hours because even after the studio closes and your in-house post production teams go home, you now have people taking up the slack overnight and when you come back all the pathing is done.

Daniel Jester:

So going back to my original point though, it's not just about how much we're paying and what we're getting, it's about also we have to take into account freeing up the time of our in-house team as a huge value add above and beyond the cost per image.

Adam Parker:

Yeah, no, totally. And that's something that I think has really expanded in the last 10 years as people who listen to this probably know. And something I've just noticed anecdotally is that in my experience, in the last say five ish years, it seems like these outsourced companies and some of them with pretty low prices have gotten a lot better.

Adam Parker:

I explored outsourcing photography 10 years ago and I think it was a little bit more the wild west, at least in my experience. And I think a lot of these services have really tightened up and so it's very cool to see. But yeah, more to your point of efficiencies, it's pretty amazing to have a team that can work on the other side of the world while you sleep.

Adam Parker:

And it really starts to reduce things like cycle time, which is something we cover in one of the other chapters coming out in this batch of chapters which is flow reporting. And one of the flow reports that we talk about is cycle times. And so what that is is really just looking at how long an image sits in each step in its process, how long it sits after being checked in before being shot, how long it sits after being shot before being approved, how long it sits at the art director before being sent to post and so on and so on.

Adam Parker:

And so you're measuring all of these durations to see where bottlenecks may be or where you might find some efficiency. And so if you're able to have people literally working on images while you sleep, you're going to see that cycle time for images in post production come drastically down. And that's a great way to really show to leadership who might not have a clear insight into your operations just how much you've quickly made a massive gain by dropping something down from 36 hours, which is totally normal if someone has to work on something for a day down to effectively zero hours or for six or eight hours overnight while folks sleep.

Daniel Jester:

And that gives you that ammunition to point to when curmudgeonly chief money bags comes to you and says like, "Okay, your studio's producing a thousand images a week, $2, an image, $2,000 a week, $8,000 a month I'm spending on image editing. Why am I paying these people over here to do this?" And it's well, there's other metrics to take into account. And honestly, chief money bags, you should know better. You don't take any KPIs into silo. That's the wrong way to be looking at the data chief.

Adam Parker:

And if you think we don't cover that and this guide you're wrong.

Daniel Jester:

I believe we've talked about it on this podcast in support of the guide.

Adam Parker:

I believe we have.

Daniel Jester:

We touched on cost pretty heavily because that's arguably one of the things. And as we record this, our listeners have not heard this episode yet, but we've recorded an episode. As we record this, they haven't listened to it. By the time our listeners hear this episode, maybe they will have heard it. I don't know, time is a-

Adam Parker:

Flat circle.

Daniel Jester:

A flat circle, yeah. But we record an episode with Lauren Stefaniak of Victoria's Secret about how to make a business case. And this is one of the things that you would need to have that skill for, is like this is going to cost money that we weren't spending before. Chief money bags does not like to do that especially when there's a perception that he's spending money for things that he's already spending money for in another area. And that's just his own ignorance about how the studio works because he needs to visit once in a while. He needs to get to know the team that works down there.

Adam Parker:

And maybe chief money bags needs things to be laid out for him. And that is unfortunately part of your job if you're working in operations, in the studio. And like here, to use the example that we've been using and kind of tie a couple of the things that we've been talking about together in this situation where let's say you had this in-house team like we began the conversation with, and they haven't been outsourcing previously.

Adam Parker:

They began outsourcing, let's say they do a hundred thousand images a year. They began outsourcing and they're now spending $2 an image so they're spending $200,000 a year. As you said, that's going to be a vendor cost, that's going to raise flags, that's going to get attention. So how is that being justified within the team. They can't just keep their entire in-house team on staff while they spend this extra $200,000, of course.

Adam Parker:

But I'm never a person who says, oh, come in with a hatchet and just lay people off. That's such a lazy and shortsighted way to make efficiencies and savings. But let's say we converted just two of those post team members into different roles, one of them to a DAM admin say post production folks are fantastic with file management, hierarchy metadata. We converted one to a DAM admin and another maybe just focused on color specializing.

Adam Parker:

So now between those two roles, the $200,000 that we've been spending out is balanced in new hires that didn't have to get made for these two new roles. We've got internal people getting career progression, and now we've made savings on hiring. And with this color specialist that wasn't perhaps in place before from the post production team, you're getting a reduction in returns. There's a lot of different ways that you can create a win out of this situation, but you do have to lay it out for that curmudgeonly, Mr. Moneybags.

Daniel Jester:

It's chief money bags by the way, but that's okay, I'll give you that one. What I loved about the color specialist idea in particular is because now you're really taking a role again, if we think about the value add to the customer and the customer in this case, being the consumer of the product.

Daniel Jester:

It's a less clear value add to them to have you spend money on a retoucher who's going to pad stuff in house and you're paying a lot more than $2 an image to have your in-house retoucher in the studio in the United States spend their time passing things to something that does add, it's a much more clear value add to the end customer, which is their whole job now is focusing on, does this color reflect the garment or the product that the customer's going to receive? Because they didn't have to worry about sitting there and pathing it.

Daniel Jester:

If they've got X number of minutes to spend per image, they no longer are spending half their time doing that part. They can spend more of their time doing things that enhance the image in a way that adds value to the customer's experience. There's a couple of other things. We talked a lot about cost and obviously that's sort of a big one. And in the KPI Guide, you basically lay out.

Daniel Jester:

And again, listeners, we know that you know this, but we should say, we should talk about why these are the right KPIs to measure your vendor. Because in the speed quality cost triangle, what is speed equal when we're talking about a vendor for post production? What does speed mean?

Adam Parker:

Speed almost always means turnaround time. That's usually the SLA by which you're measuring your vendor's performance. It's what is the duration of time from the time that file got into your hands and the time that you returned that file to me. And even that can be something that you can make quick gains on.

Adam Parker:

If you're using an API connection, if you're having a vendor who's working on things directly as they come off of set, or if you're an in-house team, even if you're working on things directly as they come off of set, not waiting till the old days like when we push stuff at the end of the day, those days are over. This is a global world we're working on things 24/7 and the days of uploading that let's see rugged drive at the end of the day to the post team is not happening anymore. So yeah, which is all to say, turnaround time is gained when it comes to speed in my opinion.

Daniel Jester:

That's my interpretation of it as well. And you see this a lot when you're searching for some of the bigger post production vendors out there. One of the first things that you see, the first bullet point is probably starting at $1.35 per image. That's probably the first bullet point. The next bullet point is when can we have these images back to you like a turnaround time and as soon as three hours, eight hours, nine hours, overnight?

Adam Parker:

And this is something you and I have talked about too, because you and I love to poke holes in everything, which is why I love talking to you, but it's not as simple as that. That speed is important and that's probably something that you're going to need to measure in the studio. But if that speed is at the cost of other things that affect and impact your team and your performance, it might not end up being that valuable.

Adam Parker:

If you increase your speed to you're getting things back within three hours now, instead of it used to be 24 hours. But you have a rejection rate that now climbs up to 80% when it used to be 3%. Did you really win? Your team is now spending time rejecting 17 more images. They're doing markups on these things and explaining why they're not correct. They're having to reapprove them the next time they come through your system. You really have to look at the big picture. And so speed and cost are not always as simple or as obvious as they might look.

Daniel Jester:

And that's why quality is part of that triangle is an important thing to consider here. And when we talk about quality with a vendor, we're often talking about reject rate. And to be clear, we are also talking about when... To me and Adam, you can tell me if you agree with this. To me, reject rate also includes obviously the reasons that you're rejecting things.

Daniel Jester:

Okay, yes, technically you did path the model out of this image, but the path is unusable for X, Y, Z reasons. And so I have to reject this to you, or I have to redo it. There is a certain amount of risk here moving to a vendor model. And one of those things is like we talked about, like you're sending your images out with the hopes that they come back in a way that you can actually use them. Otherwise, you've potentially lost a day.

Daniel Jester:

In some cases, that may not be a big deal to lose a day. In other cases, it might be a very big deal to lose a day. Our SLA, and I've worked mostly for retail companies that we had. Arguably I think, I don't know, actually, now that I think about it, this would be an interesting thing for like in the industry survey that we talk about all the time is I wonder if retail studios that support retail companies versus brands probably do tend to have a shorter SLA from sample receipt to images online than like a brand does because you're not usually dealing with a launch. You're trying to sell that show as soon as you can.

Adam Parker:

100%, 100%. This is something I thought about when I was thinking about speaking to you about this topic, was you've talked about how do you decide what's the right KPI for your team? And I think one of those things is to first ask like, what kind of team are you? If you're an in-house team and cost is not going to really be as much of a question as we talked about, the salaries are often just baked in a kind of murky accounting way.

Adam Parker:

But so cost might not be as big of a deal, but the ROI for your team is going to be a big deal, efficiency, showing improvement is going to be a big deal in output. And if you're an in-house team and a brand, as we were talking about, brands that I've worked in the past, people who sold lots of jeans in San Francisco, let's say, but if you're working for a brand, you may be getting samples six months ahead of live dates and you may have all the time in the world to shoot these products.

Adam Parker:

And so then the KPIs that you're concerned about are going to be pretty different and quality is going to be huge. You're not going to want to see rejections. You definitely aren't going to want to see color issues that are going to lead to returns. But if you're a retailer, as you were talking about, if you're Amazon, I mean, you want everything yesterday and you want 10,000 more of it.

Daniel Jester:

Our SLA from sample receipt to getting images. So there was two of them and depending on who you asked, one was more important than the other. For me, it was sample receipt to getting that sample shot and out of the studio. And that was three days. The samples team who tended to be the ones that bore the brunt of the image coverage conversation, meaning like what percent of available products that we can sell have images to support selling that product.

Daniel Jester:

It was five days from... And the samples team cared more about that metric. So for them, their SLA was five days from the time we received the sample till the time that image is now online. The reason that I didn't worry too much about that SLA is because I had zero control over the image once it went through the QA process and went into post production because the post production teams at Amazon, we have digitechs and some retouchers that sit in the studios that, well, they had that at the time that I worked there.

Daniel Jester:

But most post production retouching and preparing an image to be published on the web was completely separate from the studio and so we didn't have as much visibility into that. So the SLA of a studio that's like this product is actually live on the site, but we're not selling it because we don't have an image, so we need to get that thing... I mean, that becomes one of the most key metrics.

Daniel Jester:

And the other thing that I want to mention on this speed, quality cost triangle is that if you are working for a brand, I consider brand to be turn that triangle into a rectangle and add a fourth element. Some people I think would make the argument that brand appropriateness falls under quality. But I think when I think of quality, I think of more like tangible quality of the image, is it lit well? Is it in focus? Is it a well executed shot? Because brand are things that are a little bit more subjective like is the model's face... Is she making the right face that's appropriate for the brand? Is she styled in a way that's appropriate for the brand?

Adam Parker:

Is he cool?

Daniel Jester:

Yeah. Is this guy cool? Is this person cool?

Adam Parker:

Super measurable things.

Daniel Jester:

Brand is a little bit of an intangible. It's hard to... I mean, people who know and the people at Nike who live and breathe the brand know what brand means to them. But it is now a thing to be protected in the way that speed, quality and cost are things to be balanced and protected.

Adam Parker:

Yeah, no, I couldn't agree more. And I have more experience working with brands than with retailers and so brand identity and brand adherence has always been something that's top of mind. And in my experience, and you're absolutely right, it is difficult to measure. But as with anything, you just kind of have to pick how you're going to do it and start doing it and iterate from there.

Adam Parker:

And so, I mean, I've seen people do, this is actually Tony Baker at Stitch Fix, I've seen people do things like just having reviews at the end of the month where they will pick a random selection of images and have art directors review them. And so you could pretty quickly spin up a point system there, a rejection system there and get an idea of what your brand adherence score was each month, which would be a really cool KPI for a studio that was less just focused on output and speed.

Daniel Jester:

Maybe we'll invite Tony back on the show to talk about that because there's a lot I've been thinking about and kicking around on professional development within the studio. And there are tragically few studios that are doing image review in a way that is constructive to the photographer.

Daniel Jester:

To Amazon's credit, it was implemented differently at different Amazon studios, but I always appreciated this about working there is that we spent time every week looking at people's images for the purpose of developing photographers and stylists. And the way that I characterize it to my team when I was running the image reviews is that I want you to be able to get that product shot to 80% of what it could be as quickly as possible so you have more time to really turn it into something great and develop those skills. That's definitely a topic we're going to cover.

Daniel Jester:

Maybe Tony's the right guest for that one, we'll see. One of the things that you mentioned, and we touched on it earlier in the conversation is the professional development opportunity that a relationship like this introducing a post production vendor to your studio has. And this is something that going along with professional development in the studio, which we know in a lot of studios can sometimes be lacking anything super meaningful.

Daniel Jester:

You have an opportunity potentially to take a lead or senior retoucher and put them sort of in charge of managing this vendor relationship. And that can be really important and really powerful for that person, that employee to develop some skills that they otherwise would not have maybe had as much exposure to.

Adam Parker:

Yeah, no, absolutely. And like we did touch on this in our previous conversation, I think of all the studio roles, I think retouching and post-production can be one of the most difficult to lay out a clear trajectory for. Even with a producer, you can become a lead producer, an executive producer, you might be a brand producer or work on campaigns or become a production manager or with an operational role.

Adam Parker:

There's that really kind of classic manager, director, VP track. There are these tracks. And with post production, it can be less so. And to say I don't even think this is a hot take at this point, but if your team is working on a lot of repetitive product based imagery without heavy brand identity, there's a high chance that it will be outsourced at some point. So why not get ahead of that?

Adam Parker:

Why not lead that change rather than waiting for your team to be outsourced? And so what does that look like? To your point, Daniel completely learning new career skills and being able to offer people things like management, managing of a vendor, that stuff is going to look great on these folks' resumes. And also there's the thing that everyone always talks about I think in the studio and rarely happens, everyone always has this.

Adam Parker:

We want to work on more creative projects. We don't want to only do front side back, front side back. Obviously you have to do that, to do it well, there's there's honor in that. But people want to do other things too. And so I think if you do make that case for outsourcing retouching and morphing your internal team into someone who's managing a vendor, leading QA, having more of an eye on brand and also being able to take on more creative retouching projects.

Adam Parker:

Maybe your internal team that only did product retouching before is now retouching some or all of your campaign imagery. Maybe they're retouching your email campaigns at least, or they're working on things for social, whatever it may be. They can get a chance to work on things that are more exciting for them while also getting these other skills that are going to help them on their career path.

Daniel Jester:

Whoever the leadership entity is that's making this decision, the way that you support that person that you're going to give this opportunity to manage this relationship to is explain to them that it really is just about communication and it's about setting expectations with these KPIs, having a way to collect the data to measure this, and that's how you determine how to manage this relationship.

Daniel Jester:

You have an expectation with your vendor on what the SLAs going to be. With reject rate, you have to accept some amount. In my opinion, what you want to see there is improvement because they're not going to be perfect right out the door. And in fact, my experience with post production vendors is that that's the part of it that you are constantly managing because you don't arrive, you never arrive.

Daniel Jester:

And then, and guys, listeners, gather huddle around, get close to me now. You never arrive at any perfect relationship. You always have to work for it. You always, always have to put the work in. You never just suddenly achieve a perfect relationship with a vendor, with a spouse, with a person, whatever it is, you constantly have to be working to... When you develop a trusting relationship with somebody, that trust has to be protected and maintained. You don't just arrive and then neglect it because it will erode and then things can turn sideways really quickly.

Daniel Jester:

And then with cost, and that one's easy. The cost is the cost, it's set. Maybe it needs to change. That's the conversation you need to have. But for the studio leader, this is how you equip your lead retoucher to learn how to manage this relationship, is focus on the data, focus on the KPIs, have the conversations you need to have that are backed by the data, because that's... I mean, that's just how you have an open communicative and honest relationship with a vendor, is you say, we agreed to this and that's not being achieved or we agreed to this and you're doing a great job, high fives all around.

Adam Parker:

Yeah, no, absolutely. You've got your measurements, you've got your throughput. You've got your time spent in post average cost per image, rejection rates, SLAs, and all that. But then you've also got your larger picture, you've got the context overall of studio health. And that's something that you're only going to know from really being on the ground and talking to your team and knowing what your overall organizational goals as well as your personal goals are.

Daniel Jester:

Well, Adam, I think that's about the time we have for this episode. Thank you so much for your time talking about us. This is your third go round on the podcast and it's always a pleasure to have you on my friend. I'm looking forward to the KPI guide, these chapters, getting out there and seeing what people can do with it, what they can learn from it.

Adam Parker:

Absolutely, man, always good to talk to you.

Daniel Jester:

That's it for this episode and many thanks to our guest Adam Parker, and thanks to you for listening. The show is produced by Creative Force, edited by Calvin Lanz. Special thanks to Sean O'Meara and Ian Mitchell. I'm your host, Daniel Jester. Until next time my friends. I've been thinking a lot about Wayne's World lately. Is my oldest kid ready for it? Will he understand it? It's a piece of culture that he needs to be exposed to in some way.

Adam Parker:

I mean, I think I may have worn out the VHS tape of Wayne's World that I've owned since I was, I don't know, since it came out.

Daniel Jester:

I wore out the VHS tape of the original Batman with Michael Keaton, more than once I think.

Adam Parker:

Yeah, we could talk about Wayne's World for 45 minutes so that's a different episode.

Daniel Jester:

I'm going to have Calvin drop this onto the end of the episode as a little post credit scene.

About the host

Chief evangelist at Creative Force

Daniel Jester is an experienced creative production professional who has managed production teams, built and launched new studios, and produced large-scale projects. He's currently the Chief Evangelist at Creative Force but has a breadth of experience in a variety of studio environments - working in-house at brands like Amazon, Nordstrom, and Farfetch as well as commercial studios like CONVYR. Creative-minded, while able to effectively plan for and manage a complex project, he bridges the gap between spreadsheets and creative talent.

Creative Operations Consultant