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Creative Workflow Management: What it is, Why do you need it, and How to do it

Written by Harsh Vijay
Published on June 14th, 2022

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You must have heard people say creativity cannot be channelized or forced. It comes from your heart, and there is no process involved.

It sounds great when you don't have a lot of clients or a team to take care of.

But, if you have them, this can become a horror story. No matter how professional or seasoned you are in your niche, there will be times when clients rip off your work and suggest numerous changes.

Without a creative workflow, this can become an endless cycle of revisions. A creative workflow is not about putting boundaries on your creative work, but articulating the process from ideation to client approval.

So, the next time you see someone churning out great content every time, it's not all just luck or talent-but a systemized follow of a process that they have mastered.

In this blog, we will talk in detail about the creative workflow management system and how you can build it for your business.

What is creative workflow management?

Creative workflow management refers to the series of processes agencies or creative teams use to streamline the process of project handling from ideation to client approval. The CWM process is different for everyone, depending upon the industry, project type, and end goal.

For instance, if you are a freelancer, your creative workflow management can be defined in the following steps:

  • Intaking projects from clients
  • Produce work
  • Send for review
  • Get feedback and implement changes
  • Ship project

However, for an agency owner or creative firm, this workflow might look different-

  • Account manager takes a project from the client
  • Project head prepares the brief
  • Assign roles and set timelines
  • Get the first draft and offer feedback
  • Set to client
  • Implement changes and ship the project

For an in-house marketing team, a creative workflow looks like this:

  • Project ideation
  • Writing creative brief
  • Allocate task
  • Set milestones from start to finish
  • Produce creative work
  • Implement changes and ship to the client

It helps managers organize the key areas of the project, from the total number of members involved, their responsibilities, and the timeline of the deliverable. The focus is to provide a structure to the process without limiting creativity.

Having a workflow saves you from unforeseen hiccups that might derail the project. It helps avoid confusion and saves time, energy, and money. Organizations using creative workflow management are seen as more efficient than businesses that don't streamline their processes.

4 stages of creative workflow management

Whether you are an agency owner or an independent freelancer, you can streamline your creative work into different stages, from ideation to final product launch. This doesn't have to be complicated, but a simple series of operations to effectively complete your project. There are 4 stages of creative workflow management:

1. Project idealization

You receive a brief from the client's end, which includes everything about the project and the deliverables. As managers, your task should be to understand the project in detail, assign responsibilities to collaborators, and set milestones and timelines to ensure the project is delivered on time.

This phase includes the following tasks:

  • Study the project brief to define its objective, likely audience, timeline, and other information. If you are an agency or an in-house creative team, start with a team meeting with everyone involved in the project for ideation.
  • Set goals and define metrics for the project. Divide the bigger task into smaller ones to ensure that the project is delivered on time.
  • Define each project member's objective for effective strategizing and KPI measurement. Make sure the tasks assigned are achievable, relevant, time-bound and measurable.
  • Create an ultimate guide for your team members, which includes A-to-Z information on the project. This way, you can jump onto this guide in case of any confusion.

2. Content creation

Now starts the creative part of the workflow management process. With the set expectations, every member clearly understands their roles and responsibilities. The creative team discusses the content brief and takes action to complete it within the deadline. Project managers should also take regular feedback or do quality checks to make sure things remain on track.

Here, you have to complete the following tasks:

  • Create a collaborative environment where people are available for help and quick conversation about the project. This is also the best time to discuss goals and progress.
  • Give your client regular updates on the project's completion so both parties are on the same page.
  • Create a status report to measure the timely delivery of tasks
  • Ask for regular feedback from your team members to ensure they aren't overloaded with work.
  • Organize your project files well so there is no confusion while submitting them to the client.
  • Make sure your team has all the tools and software necessary for your team to be used in campaign creation.

3. Revisions and feedback

This phase involves getting internal feedback on the product or content your team has created and sending it to the client. Next, the feedback you receive has to be implemented to get final approval. If everything is approved, you can move on to the next step; if not, rework the changes as asked.

If you find yourself spending too much time on this stage, that means there was a problem in the ideation. The better your ideation process is, the less time you will have to spend on revisions.

The various activities involved in the stage-

  • Before sending it to the client, make sure to get final approval from the project manager.
  • Share content with clients, get feedback and implement changes (if any).
  • Create a streamlined approval process internally so you can speed things up and submit the project before the deadline.
  • Use a project management tool to track and assign changes.
  • Evaluate the level of feedback that matches the terms of the project so you aren't undercharging your client.

4. Final approval and campaign launch

Lastly, submit the completed project to the client for final approval. There isn't much to do except gather project materials. After the project is approved, you can bill your client for the same.

Among the tasks involved here are:

  • Submit your project and ask for approval
  • Keep a smooth communication channel with quick replies to keep your client satisfied
  • Invoice your client

Why do you need a creative workflow management system for your business?

Creative agencies mostly thrive on imagination. They need their sweet time to come up with ideas and suggestions for projects. However, this method might not be fruitful for agencies or businesses that handle multiple projects and need to deliver each one at a certain timeline.

Having a creative workflow works here. It doesn't limit your creativity but sets up boundaries for projects to be completed on time. There are a number of benefits to setting up creative workflow management for your business, such as

1. Save your time and money

Without a creative workflow, there is no predefined layout or structure to aid collaboration. As a result, all team members work at their own pace and ability to complete the project. The result is often satisfactory and leads to unsatisfied customers.

Team members might also feel stressed because of the lack of a streamlined process to generate excellent results. But, again, this leads to the wastage of time and resources for the business.

When you establish a project layout from ideation to final submission, it facilitates effective collaboration. Team members do not waste their time on guesswork; instead, they have a defined scope of work and a deadline set. All of this translates into delivering excellent work and earning more money.

2. Maximize creativity

Many times, people say that creative people need to be set free, and trying to structure their workdays too much can stop them from producing new ideas.

However, this isn't true. Structuring your process keeps you away from all distractions and lets your brain focus on one thing. A recent survey by Coschedule says that organized marketers are 674% more likely to report success than others.

You can surely not time creativity, but it's important to set standards and deadlines for projects to be delivered on time.

3. Clearly defined project goals

A creative workflow outlines the project's basic parts, including the members involved, their scope of work, and deliverables. This way, team members know their project goals and the timeline to get them done.

With a creative workflow, all tasks are sequenced with a defined structure and order. This helps project managers efficiently track the duties and tasks of each member. In addition, it allows each team member to work independently and maximize creativity.

4. Streamlined collaboration

A freelancer that works on their own doesn't have to make constant updates until the project reaches the client's end. However, it is not the case for agencies or in-house marketing teams. The more people work on a project, the higher the chances of miscommunication.

Ineffective communication is the root cause of project derailing. It happens because the process of assigning duties and timelines isn't streamlined. So, you don't know who's responsible for what, resulting in stress and bad output.

Here, adopting workflow management comes in handy. Your entire team is aware of your tasks, who you have to report to, and what the deadline is. The process streamlines collaboration and keeps people informed of the latest updates on the project.

How to set up a creative workflow process for your organization?

Now that you know what a creative workflow is and why you need it in your business, let's discuss ways to set it up. We will define the steps you need to take to go from project ideation to client approval.

2. Define project goals

The first step to getting started is creating a project brief that includes project goals, target audience, due dates, and milestones. Once you have a basic structure in place, conduct a kickoff meeting with your team to prepare them for the project.

Here, you can talk in detail about the digital assets that need to be delivered, trackable metrics, and project deadlines. In addition, the meeting should include everything about the client and the project so team members can easily assess and delegate responsibilities and define project goals.

2. Set your team's responsibility

A project reaches from ideation to approval because of the people involved. However, without a standard process, completing projects can become stressful, with people either overwhelmed with work or unsure of the tasks they have to do.

Delegating tasks is a common practice in agencies and creative firms to effectively assign responsibilities to team members. Depending upon an employee's expertise, performance, preferences, etc., they are given tasks.

Some of the common roles needed in a team are:

  • Project Principal
  • Project Strategist
  • Project Manager
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Designer
  • Developer

The needed roles depend upon the project requirements, but you should assign some basic roles and responsibilities to your team members to keep the project running.

3. Brainstorm ideas and create a workflow

Before starting any project, it's important to conduct initial brainstorming sessions to gather ideas. When you work in an agency, the pressure to generate new and better ideas is quite high. Unfortunately, this can lead to overworked and unmotivated team members.

To combat such situations and avoid "idea burnout," you must

  • Change your perspective on thinking and ask for feedback
  • Instead of brainstorming alone, do it with your peers
  • Take rest to recharge your brain
  • Try different techniques to brainstorm ideas like painting, reading, walking, whatever you feel helps.
  • Do a regular assessment of your idea and its feasibility with the project.

That's why creating an organized workflow is essential. Here, you can organize the steps of how your team should work with deadlines.

Workflow automation helps streamline the process from idea to final approval and ensures the project is done on time. creates approval stages, from idea finalization to project completion and submission to the client.

4. Meet deadlines and tracking changes

One of the reasons your clients aren't working with you long-term is because of missed deadlines. It's always tough to deliver work on a decided timeline, but you cannot get away with it. Your clients will judge you on the quality of work and the time it takes to complete the project.

Make sure you create project milestones for your team members so they are on track. And, if you think the deadline is tough to meet, you can always ask for a few more days. Whatever it takes, try to be on time.

Once you share your content, you might get some feedback. Don't get frustrated with it; instead, make a workflow on who will take up with edits. If the changes are major, that means there was a misinterpretation in the project understanding and you need to go back to the brainstorming stage.

Why choose Ruttl to give your team feedback?

ruttl is an all-in-one tool that works more than just as a design feedback platform. You can review live websites, web apps and design annotations. Users can easily leave comments, making it easier for team members to do the changes. Using Ruttl, you can provide an excellent customer experience, resulting in higher customer retention and references.

We are also launching some amazing features in which users can review videos and illustrations and add their comments. To make the customer feedback process more intuitive, our team is also working on adding new digital boards so that you can easily collaborate and communicate with your teams on new ideas.

ruttl will also help you resolve bugs quickly from your website by adding collaborators and leaving comments which seem to be buggy or out of context.

So, when you choose ruttl, you aren’t just getting a website feedback tool but a package of highly advanced features that are hard to find on any other platform.

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