In my 15 or so years in the marketing world, I’ve worked in a wide range of organizations, and on an even wider range of projects. From producing video content to creating whitepapers, from websites to print media, and everything in between, feedback was always a dreaded part of the creative workflow process.
I didn’t know at the time just how bad it was – because I didn’t know there was an alternative beyond the IT-approved solution. I knew video FTP transfers were a poor experience, as was passing around a 100-page pitch deck print-out. Working on websites often involved logging into a WordPress (or other) backend, and writing out feedback in a separate email – with screenshots attached, of course.
Hindsight is 20/20. It’s easy to see now how the creative workflow is broken in many ways. What should be a simple task can quickly (or slowly) become a nightmare when you factor in a wide variety of stakeholders, team members spread out across time zones, and deeply ingrained ways of working. The broken workflow is a surefire way to stifle creativity.
Here are a few areas that you might recognize as “sieves” in your workflows, draining the productivity and creativity from your creative projects.
Successful workflows revolve around communication – a.k.a. clear and timely feedback.
Collecting, collating, distributing (and redistributing), and managing feedback from multiple sources is a nightmare, and so rarely done properly. In fact, many project managers spend way too much of their time consolidating, clarifying and sorting communications – time that could easily be spent focussing on delivering better work faster.
When your feedback is siloed and inefficiently shared with relevant stakeholders, you wind up missing and losing key information. In today’s creative workflows, these silos include a hodgepodge of emails, phone calls or Zoom chats, in-person meetings without notes, spreadsheets, physical hard proofs, project management tools and more.
An email thread with 56 replies is not a great way to communicate and share feedback.
Within much of the creative workflow, feedback is often shared with a lack of clarity. Video review and approval is probably the most glaring example of this. We have all worked on that project where the dreaded “timestamp email” comes through. “Cut from 2:23 to 2:25” “Fix the fade at 2:11,” and so forth.
The same idea applies across PDF, image and website projects. You’ll often open the feedback email in one browser and the content in the other, and spend a while lining it up. Even then, there’s so much room for miscommunication (the “broken telephone”).
There’s a feedback-to-reference disconnect that makes both giving and receiving feedback – without the right technology – unnecessarily complicated and lacking in clarity. Visual context is key for clarity and successful collaboration.
On top of this, collecting feedback from external clients can be particularly painful. Often clients (and teams) lack a consistent tech stack or tools to provide their feedback effectively. Issues often arise with operating systems, IT permissions, formats, downloads, software plugins and more. All this leads to delays in the project and frustration for both your clients and your team.
The challenges of communicating clearly are compounded at the next level – coordinating the feedback, assigning tasks and obtaining approvals.
The “who has to do what by when” – and most importantly: why – is completely fragmented and compounded by a lack of clarity. Tracing the task from the source of the feedback all the way through to revisions can be a mess.
And it creates an environment where coordinating responsibilities and approvals can be a tough job.
Transparency and Accountability
Accountability in workflows gets lost in silos.
Why was a decision made? When was a change requested? Who approved the work? With traditional creative workflows, where feedback is not connected directly to the content and versions are not centralized for easy access, it’s hard to hold people accountable.
This can be critical to a project’s success, particularly where there might be a limited number of revisions set out in a contract. Or when a client questions a decision – and you will need to have the paper trail to back it up.
Fixing Broken Creative Workflows
If you recognize any of these issues in your creative workflows, fixing them doesn’t have to be difficult. Proofing is an intuitive way of sharing feedback with a single source of truth. Turning the feedback into tasks is done in context, within the same space. Approvals, change requests and revisions are all consolidated, keeping everyone on the same page throughout the course of the project. Being cloud-based also means that there’s never anything to download or install.
Comprehensive tools like ReviewStudio can solve your worst creative workflow issues.
The benefits are numerous: faster version turnaround, fewer reworks and errors, lower project management cost, accelerated project completion and less time wasted in redundant meetings.
At the end of the day it’s all about providing your clients and your teams with a much more pleasant and productive environment so you can realize the full potential of your creative talent and energy.
Give it a free try – and see for yourself if it’s a better way to manage your next project.