Keeping Ingenuity Alive with Creative Workflow Management

creative workflow

Bringing creativity into a project is a welcome thing for project managers, but along with creativity a generous dose of organization is a must for successful project execution. Chaos and creativity cannot coexist, especially in a business process. This is where a creative workflow comes into play.

A creative project workflow guides the team through the project flow on “who is supposed to do what? When? and How?” Creative workflow management enables companies to manage key areas of the project like concept ideation, concept revisions, and approvals. Through this blog, we will explore the creative workflow process in detail and understand the need for creative workflow software, and ways to organize the perfect creative workflow.

What is a Creative Workflow?

A creative workflow is a process in which creative teams collaborate to generate ideas and new content, approve new designs, and execute projects and campaigns. A creative workflow process focuses on organizing the key areas of the project including, which team member is incharge of which task, when are the tasks due, and the overall project timelines.

Managing creative workflows helps streamline the flow of a project’s movement – right from conceptualization to revisions to final sign-off.

Establishing and managing creative workflows can be very useful for project teams. Let us take the example of the project creating creative content for educational/e-learning space. In the initial stages, a trial run is created and a demo is given to the customer’s representative. If the customer representative likes the presentation, the project is implemented.

Next time the client comes with another project with similar requirements, but this time a different representative reviews the project specs. This time around, the representative’s expectations are totally different. Starting from submission deadlines to visualization of the project to hand-off expectations, everything was different for this project.

The approach followed by the project team which was similar to what was done for the previous assignment, unfortunately, did not work with the new project. Things can go haywire with creative project workflows without a carefully planned creative workflow process.

A well-laid-out creative workflow guides marketing or design teams when they work on project deliverables. Idea generation, content development, campaign launches, and product launches, are some tasks that have a creative aspect associated with them. Creative workflows are different for every team in every organization, but they ultimately aim at streamlining the creative process such that the “creativity” aspect is kept alive.

A creative workflow must consist of elements like:

The flow of work

Each creative process has a unique flow of work that defines who does what, when, and how. All team members must be aware of the flow of work so as to avoid confusion and chaos during project execution.

Clarity of roles

In creative processes, the role played by each member must be clearly defined. This is especially important for processes that have approval levels. A clear definition of the roles simplifies approvals and eliminates confusion and delay in approvals.

Tracking and measuring performance/progress

Each task of the process must have clearly defined parameters (KPIs and KPAs) for tracking and measuring the progress/performance. Performance parameters help the team fine-tune their performance based on KPIs.

Creative workflow software

Last but never least, creative workflow management is possible with the right tools and technology that enable successful project management. The right creative workflow software helps manage workflows effectively, store and update data and documents, and streamline/centralize the team’s communication.

4 Phases of a Creative Workflow

The creative workflow for various processes varies depending on the type of process. Irrespective of the type of process, all creative workflows typically follow 4 phases.

1. Definition

The first phase defines the project’s scope using the information provided by the client. The information provided by the client covers all the details about the deliverable they are looking for like the type of product, goals that the product intends to achieve, target audience, client’s budget, and timeline of a project. The definition phase includes activities like:

  • Developing the creative brief
  • Defining roles and responsibilities of team members
  • Setting milestones to track progress
  • Researching how to highlight the USP of the client’s product
  • Identifying potential risks and creating a plan to tackle these risks
  • Clarifying what the client can expect from the final output

2. Creation

This stage is where product development begins. The activities that mark the creation phase include:

  • Brainstorming to generate ideas and document them
  • Comparing the new product with similar products developed in the past
  • Creating product prototypes or website frames, as applicable
  • Creating a work schedule for the entire team
  • Conducting regular team meetings to discuss updates and track progress
  • Creating status reports
  • Tracking the time spent by team members on assigned tasks
  • Ensuring team members meet deadlines
  • Updating the client on the project progress
  • Obtaining client feedback to confirm if the team is headed in the right direction

3. Review and Approval

Once the creation phase is complete, the product needs to be reviewed. Internal approval on the product or content that the team has developed needs to be gathered before sending it to the client. The feedback received from the internal team needs to be used to make changes to the product as needed.

Until the client or their authorized representative finally signs off on the product, changes will be made to the product. The main activities in this phase include –

  • Get the final product approval internally
  • Once approved internally, forwarded to the client for review and approval
    Use reliable data transfer tools for sharing the new design or related videos
  • Use review software to consolidate feedback from different sources
  • Evaluate whether the feedback received from the client falls within the agreed terms and conditions
  • Implement the predetermined limits on the review process
  • Secure the final product approval from the client

4. Launch of product or campaign

This is the last stage in the creative workflow. At this stage, the final product or campaign is handed over to the client. All the related printed material and files in certain digital formats are handed over to the client, and content is published online. Once the handover is complete, the invoice is also sent to the client and a customer support team is set up to maintain constant communication with the client post-sales.

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Organizing the Perfect Creative Workflow

Chaos and creativity cannot co-exist in project management. Tasks have to be completed on time, deadlines need to be met, and team members have to carry out their responsibilities so that the desired outcome is achieved. Here are some pointers that help you create the perfect creative workflows.

  1. Clarify team responsibilities at the beginning of the project. This ensures that every team member understands their responsibilities from beginning to end. Duplication of efforts can be avoided by clarifying the roles and responsibilities of each team member. Answers to questions like – who will perform specific tasks? Who will conduct reviews? Who will be consulted during the internal review process? Who is responsible for final approval? need to be provided while clarifying team responsibilities.
  2. Determine the flow of the entire creative process. Creative workflow management differs from organization to organization, but the ultimate aim is to establish workflow steps that team members can follow from beginning to end.
  3. Emphasize revisions to ensure the exact output expected by the client. Regular review of the product is essential in a creative process. Several revisions are needed to ensure that the outcome is as per client expectations.
  4. Emphasize internal and external communication. For the final product to align with the client’s expectations, clear and constant communication is a must. The creative workflow software must include built-in communication features like team chat, private chat, one-to-one video conferencing, and @mentions to collaborate effectively.
  5. Visualizing the workflow is extremely important in project planning. The creative workflow must be visualized from start to finish with the help of a workflow diagram or a flow chart.
  6. Using templates for recurring tasks saves a lot of time for the team. Templates can be used for client briefs, invoices, team schedules, and approval checklists.
  7. Automate the task hand-off – each task in the creative workflow must be completed on time. A system needs to be established for alerting team members that the task is ready and waiting for them to take action. Task management systems like Trello and Asana can be used for sending out automated task notifications to team members.

Conclusion

When done right, a creative workflow must institute standards that ensure that work gets done on time, while enabling creativity to blossom. A creative workflow management process ensures that creative projects are completed within prescribed time frames in a streamlined manner.

A workflow management software like Cflow helps create customized creative workflows that enable companies to manage key areas of the project. Managing creative workflows is a breeze with an intuitive workflow management software like Cflow. The drag-and-drop option provided by the visual form builder in Cflow creates workflows within minutes.

To explore creative workflow management with Cflow, sign up for the free trial.

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