Project Management Video Blog: Adding Structure Without Killing Creativity

June 4, 2015 Joe Staples


Joe Staples: It's no secret that creative people are passionate about their work. From creative directors to copywriters, they've chosen their profession because of that creative side of what they do, but oftentimes the business side, that process piece, can be a real buzz-killer. While flexibility and freedom are what creatives desire, facts show that creatives do their best work when there's process built around that work.

So how do you get there? How do you complement what they do so well, what they're passionate about, with some structure that alleviates bottlenecks, that gets rid of useless meetings, that allows them to get rid of the work when they're just searching for statuses on projects? There's actually an answer for that.

Here are six ways to automate the creative process without destroying the mojo:

It starts with questioning the current process. How are things getting done? Even if it's a manual way, how does that work flow through the system? Because the challenge is, if you automate a process that's broken, all you're going to do is take a manually broken process and now you're going to have an automated broken process. So if you need to make those changes, you need to make them prior to going through the automation.

Second is to automate that process and workflow with a single entry point. It's important that you get rid of those hallway conversations, the emails that come in with requests. Create a single entry point which will then create a single source of truth for managing that work, or that piece of work, through the entire workflow.

Next is to give requesters a portal to see the status of their projects. Our studies show that one of the problems is that people spend an exorbitant amount of their time looking for status on projects or making requests for someone else to give them that status. With a requester portal, the requester can have a real-time look at the status of a project. They can see it move through the workflow. They can see any snags associated with that and they can know what to expect as the outcome.

Next is the importance of automating the approval process. Oftentimes, really in any work product or any process, but even more so in a creative process, there are multiple points of approval. If those tend to be manual you're going to introduce latency and error. If the approval process can be automated, that approval process can happen without consuming individuals' time.

The next important point is to get employees' involved early on. Automating processes is change inside of the business, people may have been used to doing things a certain way for years, and now you're introducing a way, though it might be better, its different. And so bringing employees in, getting their ideas, helping understand what concerns they have, is an important point that'll lead to success.

Lastly, it's important to set reasonable goals. You really can't expect a 100-percent foolproof system when you're automating processes. So oftentimes what we see is, companies come in with big ideas, big goals that are going to revolutionize their business, when in reality, they tend to bite off more than they can chew. So our strong recommendation to our customers is to take it a step at a time. Understand that this is a process, an evolution in how you're going to do business. With that in mind, what you're going to see are reasonable expectations and whole lot more success.

About the Author

Joe Staples

Joe is a senior B2B tech marketing executive (currently CMO at Workfront) with primary emphasis in SaaS, mar-tech, and customer experience sectors. He loves brand-building, demand generation, PR/AR, and creative campaign development and prides himself in providing a good blend of strategy and execution.

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