Your agency’s current workflow may feel like putting on a pair of house slippers at this point — tried and true, comfortable, and known. But is your workflow really doing its best work? At times, especially in the creative realm, the hardest part about developing a process is standardization. There can be one-off projects or processes that cause people to drop the ball or make the last leg of the creative sprint feel like a full-out technical marathon.
To understand the importance of a workflow, take a look at the problems that commonly face process-free agencies:
- Inconsistent deliverables
- Unmet deadlines
- Duplicative efforts (internally and externally, in a worst-case scenario)
- Doubling back to make clients happy, making up for avoidable mistakes
Whether your focus is the client, your employees, or both, your baseline should begin with an outlined process for your workflow management. Follow this guide for more direction on how to develop a successful creative workflow.
→ Do your research.
A good way to understand standardization is this: Creating a bridge between how you currently do things vs. how you should do things. The current process isn’t working, and there is a goal in sight. Standardization is the process of getting to that goal — with the help of a plan and a new process.
Now that you know there’s a traffic jam in work fluidity, it’s time to evaluate what works and what doesn’t. Perhaps your clients don’t have realistic expectations of your bandwidth — how much you’ll be able to deliver within a given timeframe. The first stage of your process should be to review what type of workflow is currently in place. Identify the gaps, and call out the weaknesses. Evaluate your current content agency workflow by defining:
- The average number of requests per week
- Typical turnaround time
- Ratio of projects in progress to completed projects
- Communication mechanisms (Who spearheads the communication between client and agency? Across teams?)
→ Pinpoint the bottleneck.
From there, decide what needs to change. What are the things that don’t work that can feasibly be changed? Not everything is feasible, and some things take more time than others. Step back and look at your main challenges; from there, decide what your company can change within a given timeframe. The order of prioritization will come from these boundaries.
→ Define roles and responsibilities.
Treat this transitional process as an experiment where you have a question at hand, a hypothesized solution to the question, and key influencers who guide the process. Everyone who plays a role in your updated workflow needs to know their responsibilities and any relevant details that pertain to them.
Traditionally, in an agency setting, there are three main groups to be considered:
Creators: These roles range from graphic designers to web developers. The creators are the steam in the engine. They’ll create the assets for your clients.
Account Managers/Account Support: The face of the company. These people know the clients and their concerns better than anyone else. Account support liaises between the client and the creators, ensuring both parties are as informed as possible.
Management: This group has the birds-eye view of everything going on. Team members in this role are in charge of ensuring smooth communication between account managers, clients, and creators. They can also assist with work distribution and holding team members accountable.
→ The road to success.
You may have turned to a pen and paper to visualize your new workflow, but in order to put it into action, you’ll need the help of software. A digital asset management system, for example, will help filter requests and centralize assets, allowing you to host all of your creative workflows in one place. For example, CROOW can keep track of to-do’s, allow for creative collaboration among your team members and out to clients, and help ensure none of your tasks fall through the cracks.
Ultimately, by taking your workflow management out of individual silos and standardizing it, creative collaboration will be improved, your efficiency will increase, and you’ll be able to feel prepared instead of always catching up. Make sure your workflow is working for you, and not the other way around!