Creative work is not only exclusive to creative businesses like marketing agencies, graphic design companies, and advertising agencies. Now even relatively “rigid” industries like manufacturing and retail are also embracing creativity in their workflow.
It’s always challenging to find the right balance between having an organized structure and encouraging creative freedom. Too much freedom can lead to missed deadlines, but too many restrictions can also limit creativity.
The solution? Creative workflow management.
Creative workflow management, or CWM, can help companies manage, analyze, and optimize creative processes to encourage creativity while also ensuring productivity and effectiveness.
Any businesses that require sales and marketing and other creative processes in their workflows can benefit from creative workflow management. In this guide, we will discuss how.
What Is Creative Workflow Management?
Creative workflow management (CWM) is simply an effort to manage and optimize creative processes so that they are as effective and efficient as possible without limiting creativity.
The focus is to apply structure to the process while still encouraging managed creative freedom so we’ll get the best of both worlds.
CWM will provide team members and stakeholders enough freedom to channel their creative ideas and make sure the work stays streamlined, efficient and aligns well with the organization’s overall goal.
At the core of creative workflow management is applying transparency and accountability. By implementing a creative workflow management software solution, the organization can have a centralized place of collaboration and communication where everyone can see who is responsible for which tasks, which task is behind schedule, etc. meaning, everyone is now accountable.
Improved transparency and accountability, in turn, will improve everyone’s productivity.
Why is Creative Workflow Management Important?
As discussed, creative workflow management will provide structure to the process to ensure efficiency without limiting creativity.
This will, in turn, produce various benefits for your organization, including but not limited to:
- More effective time tracking and management: With creative workflow management in place, deadlines and schedules get clearly established, so we don’t have to rely on feelings when monitoring and managing time. Team members can work collectively to execute their tasks within deadlines and prevent delays.
- Clear objectives for everyone: At the core of CWM is workflow mapping, which will outline the project’s concept, purpose, milestones, and clear steps to be taken. By clearly defining and communicating objectives, team members will be more prepared and more organized to achieve these goals.
- Provide structure: By using a CWM software solution, we can maintain structure to a creative process. We can easily break down the creative process into well-defined tasks, and we can also track the progress of each task and phase.
- Assign roles and responsibilities: A creative workflow solution helps team members to know their roles and responsibilities. All teams are now aware of each other’s tasks, and a well-informed team will translate into a more streamlined and efficient operation.
- Save money: When the project stays within deadline and budget, we can save more money executing each creative process. By eliminating confusion, we reduce the risks for mistakes so we won’t waste any resources when executing creative projects.
- Streamlined feedback and approval process: One of the most common challenges in creative projects is handling client (and internal) feedback. Approval processes can be a significant bottleneck in any creative project, and CWM software can provide a centralized place of collaboration to ensure a streamlined approval process.
- Better communication: By having a centralized communication platform and maintaining order, we can encourage active communication among team members, which will lead to better teamwork and productivity.
How To Implement Creative Workflow Management
While implementing creative workflow management may vary depending on the organization and the project, in general, CWM implementation will consist of five core elements:
1. Defining Scope and Objectives
The creative project might be self-initiated or from a client. In the latter case, typically, the project’s scope, requirement/specification, and objective should be defined in a project brief.
Nevertheless, in this step, we should focus on defining or identifying the scope of the project and its objectives. Brainstorm with your team members, and if a client initiates the project, involve the client in the discussion to manage the client’s expectations and understand their demands.
2. Assigning Roles and Responsibilities
A key aspect of CWM is to define the roles and responsibilities of each team member clearly. This is important in any creative project to prevent confusion and improve accountability in the execution of the project.
The idea is to ensure everyone is aware of who is responsible for different tasks. This can help in the execution of sequential, interdependence tasks and can encourage collaboration.
3. Schedule Management
Once the roles and responsibilities have been properly defined within the project’s scope, we can create a schedule to manage the execution of the creative project. Define the deadlines, objectives/milestones, and who’s responsible for each task.
Having a proper CWM schedule is very important to ensure efficiency and productivity, providing structure to the creative project. If necessary, break down the project into smaller milestones, which can help maintain your team’s morale by dividing stress into phases.
4. Design or Creation
Pretty self-explanatory, the core of the creative project is the content creation or design process.
The key to success in this step is maintaining clear communication and collaboration. A creative workflow management software solution can help provide a centralized place for everyone to collaborate and communicate.
5. Review and Approval
Often the biggest challenge in any creative project is managing and streamlining the review and approval cycle. Similar to the above, having a centralized space to maintain communication between creative workers and reviewers is essential to ensure a faster and more effective approval process.