Creative workflows are an integral part of any organization that wants to stay ahead of the competition. But they can often be hindered by various obstacles such as lack of resources, conflicting priorities, and inadequate communication.
To ensure that the creative process runs smoothly, organizations need to implement effective strategies that streamline the workflow and increase productivity.
This article outlines several practical strategies that organizations can use to improve their creative workflow and drive innovation, including setting clear goals, fostering collaboration, embracing technology, and encouraging experimentation.
By implementing these strategies, organizations can create an environment that fosters creativity and enables their teams to produce their best work.
What is a creative workflow?
A creative workflow is a structure that creative teams use to produce new ideas and material, approve new designs, and carry out projects and campaigns efficiently.
It consists of different steps like organizing important project components, such as who on the team will be responsible for what, when tasks are due, and how long the project will last.
Building a creative workflow for teams is crucial as it allows one to see the progression of a project from conception to final approval.
In other words, it helps project leads view the status of each campaign component, as well as a history of revisions and approvals so they can see where the bottlenecks are in the process.
Why is a structured creative project workflow important?
It’s true that creative teams thrive on inspiration, and they can’t be rushed. But this doesn’t mean that the project management process should remain unorganized as it may lead to misunderstanding among creative teams.
Even if no one is to blame, missed deadlines or confusing comments can hurt your team’s reputation.
In other words, a structured creative workflow management process helps:
- Set project bandwidth priorities and modifications, then allocate each to the appropriate team member.
- Set expectations for your stakeholders and creatives, streamline operations, and reduce project timelines.
- Make sure your team produces original work with thorough evaluation and collaboration.
- Ensure all the work is compliant by utilizing an audit record of all approval decisions and revisions.
Now that we’ve understood the importance of a structured creative workflow process let’s look at some strategies to improve it.
How to improve your creative workflow process
Here are some strategies you must follow to improve your creative workflow process.
Clarify the scope of your project
Clarifying the project scope of a content or marketing campaign is the first step in managing your creative workflow. When the goal and the scope of the project is made clear, your team can develop a simple strategy to execute the campaign.
To develop a clear project scope, it’s best to talk about the end goals and work backwards to find the most efficient method to accomplish these goals while factoring in finances and the project timeline.
Note: Ensure that you obtain the stakeholders' approval to avoid confusion once the project has begun.
Prepare a creative brief
A creative brief is a live document that outlines a project's objectives and gives creative teams a clear idea of how they should proceed with the project.
Creative briefs typically include:
- A mission statement for a project or brand
- Principal goals and difficulties
- The audience in question
- Principal competitors
- Company values and market positioning
- Campaign channels (such as social media, banner ads, and print materials)
Creative briefs are important as they give creative teams a guide to refer to, which helps keep projects on track.
The creative brief also outlines the roles and responsibilities of each person involved in the project, which improves accountability and helps to prevent miscommunication.
It can also be adapted to account for changes in client priorities or new stakeholders, which keeps projects within scope. Additionally, the creative brief gives creative teams all of the information they need to produce exactly what the client wants, reducing the feedback cycle and revisions.
Over time, the creative brief can be used as a template, improving processes and increasing efficiency.
Assign roles and responsibilities
Assigning roles and responsibilities to a creative team is essential for the success of a project. It ensures that everyone knows what is expected of them, what their specific tasks are, and when they are expected to complete them.
This clarity helps improve accountability and minimize confusion, which eliminates delays and miscommunication.
It also helps to prevent duplication of effort and ensures that all tasks are completed in a timely and efficient manner.
Furthermore, having clearly defined roles and responsibilities enables the creative team to work collaboratively, with each person focusing on their area of expertise. This leads to better coordination and reduces the risk of missed deadlines or unexpected roadblocks.
If you only have a small group of creatives, you might be tempted to overlook this phase. However, defining roles and tasks still fosters accountability within a project, even with smaller teams.
You can even use a creative workflow software like Artwork Flow that is specifically designed for creative teams.
Its workflow feature enables you to split the project into stages and assign tasks to your team members. The software also sends automated follow-up and reminder emails to ensure that the project is completed on time.
You can also check the project’s progress to detect bottlenecks in the process and ensure the project flows smoothly.
Set up a creative review and approval process
A creative review and approval process is a systematic approach for evaluating and granting approval of assets such as design, marketing, and advertising creatives. It’s a crucial part of any business' creative production cycle and helps to ensure that the final output meets the standards and expectations of stakeholders.
To build a creative review and approval process, it’s important to establish which platform you’re going to use for collaboration and feedback (are you going to use online tools or offer feedback through in-person meetings?).
Then, set clear deadlines and guidelines for communication and review, and ensure that the feedback given is consistent and actionable. And make sure that you also provide regular updates and progress reports to all stakeholders to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Artwork Flow’s workflow feature comes in handy in this case. You can add checklists and review guidelines to the document so reviewers don’t miss important details and there aren’t unnecessary revisions.
Review creative workflow metrics
It's crucial to conduct a thorough evaluation of a project when it is over to determine what worked well and what your team can do better in the future. You should check particular productivity measures during a project review to see:
- The duration required for approvals and amendments.
- How many variations of an asset were there for each project or stage of the workflow.
- How many approval decisions were necessary to complete the project?
- The differences and similarities between the entire project cycle length and other projects of a comparable nature.
By examining this data, you can determine whether your review process is accelerating (or decelerating) and whether any project-related bottlenecks occurred.
A structured creative workflow process, including efficient packaging management, is important for the success of creative projects within an organization.
It helps prevent miscommunication, reduces delays, and ensures that all tasks are completed efficiently and effectively. It also improves accountability and collaboration and allows creative teams to focus on their areas of expertise.
Strategies such as clarifying the project scope, preparing a creative brief, assigning roles and responsibilities, and setting up a creative review and approval process help improve the creative workflow and drive innovation. The implementation of these strategies creates an environment that fosters creativity, streamlines the workflow, and increases productivity.
About Artwork Flow
It helps you create templates, workflows, and checklists to collaborate with team members and go to market on time.