The ultimate guide to creative workflow management
11 actionable steps to follow to make the most of your creative workflow
Aug 3, 2023
The difference between a team that constantly delivers out-of-the-box, on-point creative assets and one that doesn't often lies in the creative workflow management process. Creative workflow management is a series of steps creative professionals adopt to move creative projects from start to finish. By adopting a structured approach, creatives are able to maximize their productivity, efficiency and creativity while avoiding endless meetings, sluggish timelines and scattered initiatives.
Whether you're a marketing professional, video producer or creative project manager, a well-established creative workflow can help you drive improved outcomes and streamline projects. Let’s take a look at 11 actionable steps you can follow to kick-start your creative workflow.
The foundation of any creative agency workflow process is strong ideas. Brainstorming and idea-sharing sessions enable you to tap into your team's collective creativity. If you're working with a team, encourage everyone to contribute, regardless of their role. An inclusive approach fosters creative collaboration, which in turn, enables your team to consider diverse perspectives and generate more ideas.
Step 2: Do your due diligence
Informed creative decisions can help you deliver stronger results. Conducting UX, market or consumer research can provide valuable insights and inspiration on what you’re looking to create, while also strengthening your ideas. Research will help you gain a better understanding of your target audience, market trends and the competition so you can build an even more compelling campaign or design. Consider research platforms like SurveyMonkey, Lookback or Maze to assist with your research.
Step 3: Hash out the winning ideas
Fine-tune the most promising ideas from your pool of inspiration into actionable and coherent concepts. A concept can range from an early prototype to napkin sketches and everything in between. The goal is to bring the ideas to life in some form to get a better understanding of what the end result will be. Remember to balance creativity and practicality so your concepts align with your objectives. Doing so will help set the direction for the entire project.
Step 4: Get your (planning) ducks in a row
Before beginning the actual work, it’s important to plan and organize all creative process steps. This often includes identifying the team members involved, allocating tasks, defining responsibilities, setting deadlines, and budgeting. This process is referred to as creative project management, and when done effectively and with the right software, it will help you save time and prevent potential hiccups.
Step 5: Time to get to work!
With a well-thought-out plan in place, you’ll be able to execute on your content creation workflow diligently. Use creative workflow management software like StreamWork to optimize your production process and maximize efficiency. The benefits of a creative management platform include:
Centralized collaboration between teams, clients, vendors and stakeholders
Increased transparency and accountability about what’s happening when
Efficient task management to keep everyone on the same page
Improved communication thanks to built-in, real-time communication tools
Automation of repetitive tasks like sending notifications
Real-time progress tracking across tasks and deadlines
Task prioritization based on urgency, importance or client deadlines
Time savings and cost reduction as a result of reducing manual tasks, streamlining processes and optimizing team resource allocation
Step 6: Collect stakeholder input
Encourage open communication among team members and collect design feedback from relevant stakeholders or clients to make your creative concept even stronger. Maintaining a culture that embraces creative feedback and supports continuous improvement will only enhance the overall quality of your projects.
As you receive feedback, review the creative project or campaign to address any issues and to ensure you’re continuing to keep deliverables on track and aligned with the original objectives. Be flexible about iterating on the project, as you may find that revisions can help make the initial concept stronger.
At this point, it’s also worth evaluating whether the creative you’re developing is still informed by the research and insights you gathered in step two. Ask yourself if the creative reflects the audience, market and objective you’re trying to solve for. If not, where does it fall short, and what can you do to fix it?
Step 8: Request final sign-off
Now that you’ve collected relevant stakeholder or client input and revised the creative based on that feedback, it’s now time to request approval. Navigating approval processes with stakeholders and clients requires clear communication and an understanding of expectations so that everyone involved remains on the same page.
Handling this process on your own can be a lot (on top of everything else you’re already doing to develop the creative)! Approval workflow software like StreamWork can simplify this process so you don’t need to spend time chasing stakeholders. StreamWork automates approval flows and tracks deadlines so you know the exact moment each stakeholder or client signs off.
Step 9: Apply the final polish and prepare to go live
As the project nears completion, focus on the finishing touches, and ensure all creative project management boxes are checked. If any deliverables or team members are running behind, strategize different workflow tracking solutions so the project delivery date doesn’t slide. For campaigns, ensure all launch channels are prepped and ready, and the team is aligned on when and where assets will go live.
Finally, when it comes to creative, take a moment to go back to the drawing board. Refer to the brand guidelines and original project objectives to confirm everything aligns ahead of shipping the final deliverables.
Step 10: Ready, set, launch!
Showcase the finished product to the target audience or client…and celebrate! Take time to congratulate each team member on delivering the final campaign or deliverable, pat yourself on the back, and enjoy the moment.
Step 11: Don’t forget to measure and reflect
Now that the project is complete, it’s time to measure performance. How did the creative perform in the market? How well did it address the objectives and target audience outlined at the start? All of these data points will enable you to assess the performance of the campaign and how you can improve in the future.
This is also the time to conduct an internal session with your working team to discuss the creative workflow process and outcomes. Every campaign or project presents an opportunity to identify areas for improvement and to establish lessons learned. Listen to those around you to gain an understanding of what worked well and what didn’t.
Supercharge your creative workflow management with StreamWork
In today's fast-paced – and increasingly remote – world, adopting a smart workflow tracking process in creative development is how you can set yourself apart. Implementing creative workflow management software likeStreamWork helps to eliminate inefficiencies and bottlenecks in the creative development process so you can launch top-notch creative assets faster. Create a free account today or schedule a demo and learn more.
Meredith is the Founder and CEO of StreamWork, a creative workflow management platform built for teams who work on creative. Meredith has 12+ years experience working as a marketer at Apple, Google, YouTube and Warner Bros., and has worked on hundreds of creative assets with teams large and small. Her mission is to simplify the way teams work on creative.