Building and continually using a creative workflow should be at the base of any successful business.
While it can be claimed that the creative process does not need structure and rigid rules, most people would disagree with that.
Being creative and efficient at the same time does require a certain amount of organizing, and that’s especially true if you work in a marketing team.
While the designers or copywriters are more creative when not pressed by a deadline, there are other people involved in the process.
I’m referring to team leads and project managers that need some kind of structure to follow the progress.
Therefore, to avoid total chaos, there’s a need to have a well-balanced and structured creative workflow for all those involved.
What Is a Creative Workflow and Why Do You Need One?
A creative workflow is a process within your company that helps your team create, review, and approve creative projects. Establishing this process is key to completing projects more efficiently.
A typical creative workflow template usually includes the following:
- Defining the idea
- The creation process
- The reviewing and approval step
- The launch
While these are the most vital steps of boosting efficiency, there’s a need to develop a certain mindset among those involved in the process.
However, this isn’t about creating a very rigorous process but finding the right balance between enabling structure and allowing space for creativity as well.
The why is pretty straight-forward. If it’s correctly implemented, you’re set to cut back on money, time, and, most importantly, frustration.
And this is true for all types of projects, but especially for big ones, where structure and organization are vital.
Here are 7 steps of creative process you need to follow if you want to implement a successful creative workflow in your company.
Step 1: Identify and Prevent Potential Issues
As with any project that involves teamwork, it’s imperative to make sure you foresee possible issues that might arise and try to manage them accordingly.
The most pushback you’re going to receive when implementing a creative project workflow will probably come from the actual creatives.
They might argue that they need more freedom to keep their engines running, and a certain template might inhibit their creativity.
However, according to a survey carried out by CoSchedule, creatives that are properly organized have a higher rate of success—of about 397% higher.
Another possible issue would be the reluctancy to take on a new habit and, while this may be difficult at first, with time, it will prove to be the right decision.
What you should know is that a lot of patience is necessary.
Adapting to changes is hard, regardless of the type of work you do, and it takes about two months for a habit to stick. Make sure you take this into consideration when setting a new workflow.
Step 2: Set Clear Goals and Responsibilities
For a marketing workflow process to be successful, it’s of utmost importance for everyone involved to know what they have to do.
This means that everyone, from the project manager to creatives and account managers, should have a clear idea of what their role is.
Instead of mixing up their responsibilities, create a plan, and a clear guide so that everyone knows what to do. This will save a lot of time as well as frustration in the long run.
Before starting a new project, it’s best to have a one-on-one meeting with each team member and thoroughly explain their role for that particular project.
The purpose is for each team member to focus just on their part of the project and not get involved in what the other colleagues are doing, as this can prove to be counterproductive.
However, this doesn’t mean that they can’t ask each other for help or advice when they feel like it.
Step 3: Create a Schedule
Even though flexibility is nice, make sure there is always a deadline for your projects.
Setting a few milestones should be very efficient in this process. Mark all the stages that need to be completed and set an approximate number of days that should be allotted to each one.
Every team member will know what the timeline should be for the project and when it should be finished.
This way, there will be no conflicts and interference with other projects. Thus the workflow should be much more fluid.
Step 4: Involve Everyone in The Ideation Process
There’s a widespread belief that the creatives should come up with the ideas for each project. However, anyone can have a great idea, so the more people get a say in this, the better.
Involve everyone in the ideation process, from project managers to designers and account managers.
Even if their role is not directly related to the creative work, they should all be familiar with the project’s requirements and, therefore, could come up with different insights.
Step 5: Use The Right Tools
When implementing a creative agency workflow, one of the most important things to have and use are the right tools for efficient communication and project planning.
There are lots of platforms out there, so you need to find the one that works best for you and your team’s needs.
Keep an eye out for platforms that integrate all the tools necessary for creating, developing, and reviewing a project.
Creatopy would definitely come in handy thanks to the team collaboration features. When working on design projects, our platform allows you to add team members, define their roles, share ideas and designs, send feedback, and download the final materials.
The time wasted on writing and keeping track of numerous emails can be used more productively—creating.
For scheduling and time tracking, try TimeCamp or Toggle, as they’re both simple to use and very helpful in keeping track of the work everyone’s doing.
These tools are also great for projects that involve working with freelancers.
Calendly can come in handy when you need to set up meetings as it works great for any type of team, be it a small or a large one.
It also has a time zone detection, so if one of the team members is working remotely from a different country, this will prove to be really useful for keeping the team in sync.
Step 6: Implement a Good Review Process
An essential step of the creative workflow is the reviewing part, which is why you need to have a review process in place.
Any type of project would need to be either peer-reviewed or reviewed by someone with the necessary skills and experience, although in some cases, both of these can apply.
The creative approval workflow should be designed to enhance the potential of each team member and implicitly of each project.
As most people are not big fans of having their work reviewed, there are ways to manage this.
Regardless if we’re talking about reviewing designs, development, or copy, you should make it clear from the start that it’s not about criticizing anyone’s work, but more about fulfilling the potential of those involved.
However, keep the reviewing process organized. You wouldn’t want everybody to just jump in at any time with suggestions that would ultimately prove to be just overwhelming.
When a project reaches its last stages of creation and is nearly done, share it with the rest of the team. Whoever is in charge should have the last word in the creative workflow process.
In case your team is working for a client, then the client will have the final say.
Step 7: Focus on Both Creativity and Efficiency
Last, but definitely not least, your team should focus on both creativity and efficiency.
While it might be easy to forgo one or the other, it’s vital to assign the same level of importance to both.
This is especially important if you’re creating an ad agency workflow where you’re often working with many clients at the same time and have to keep track of many different projects.
Creativity is at the center of your business, so allow people to take their time to be creative, but not so much that it would affect their performance.
A good workflow will add direction and clarity to all your creative projects as well as improved efficiency.
Team collaboration is not easy as it involves many people with different backgrounds and different opinions. Finding a great creative workflow that works for everybody can be the solution to all the hassle.
Keep in mind that while we all work differently, there is some common ground that we can reach where we can be both creative and efficient, without stepping on anybody’s toes.
Find out what are your team’s strengths and weaknesses and focus on what each can bring to the table for every project you take on.
Make a priority out of designing a workflow for your team, and most importantly, make sure you stick to it every time. While it might take a while for everyone to get used to working in a more organized manner, you’ll notice that with time, all projects will be handled more efficiently.
We hope you found these guidelines helpful, as well as inspiring.
Feel free to let us know in the comments the secret ingredient to a thriving creative workflow.