June 8, 2016

Four easy ways to keep your creative projects on track

Creative people work best under flexible and relaxed conditions. They can produce some of their best work when they are allowed the freedom to experiment, push the limits and explore. Unsurprisingly, in many circumstances, the ‘it’ll be ok’ or ‘we’ll work it out’ approach can leave more harm in its wake than good.

A lack of structure or general disorganisation can be the final breaking point, sometimes even causing the best of teams to be brought down and miss critical project requirements or objectives. Just think, how much can you see when your world is full of disorientating fog? A lack of clear direction, too many meetings, interrupted creative time, and continual revisions are the surest way to shrink productivity, sap enthusiasm and energy and reduce creativity.

In a study by WorkFront, they found that one-third of employees remarked on a lack of ‘standard’ processes for workflow and poor prioritisation as the two most disruptive elements that get in the way of doing the work.

On the flip side, creative people and teams that are organised, have clear priorities and objectives, and have eliminated distractions, are more creative, dynamic and productive. Which in turn means they have time and passion for those emergency projects that appear from nowhere.

While some creatives will recoil at the idea of organisation or structure, the truth is that all teams need a certain amount of stability to maintain production and enthusiasm. The ideal solution is to have a system in place to assist the team, without allowing the system itself to get in the way.

  • Always use a brief

If you ensure you have an accurate brief, you are one step closer to a mistake-free project. More complex briefs can set the scene for the strategy, key messages, style, and tone of any project before you even kick off. Sound briefs can eliminate confusion, revisions, disagreements, and unrealistic expectations.

  • Create an approval system

Gaining approval for a project can be an intense and daunting experience, especially if multiple people are making the calls. From different opinions, late feedback, higher urgency from one party, and conflicting feedback, the approval process can leave the creative team in a nightmarish situation. As a solution, upload your proof to a single shared location, where all parties can view, discuss, and suggest edits before the creative team makes the changes.

  • Use project management software

When the projects start coming at you faster than you can keep up, you know its time to invest in project management software. These are the scenarios where elements of projects are forgotten, or not enough emphasis is placed on a particular facet of the campaign. A visible project queue with distinct priorities ensures no work can fall through the cracks. By keeping your project management software up to date with correct deadlines, outcomes and strategies, you will ensure the whole project runs smoothly.

  • Allow creative flexibility

Whether creative flexibility in your office means working from the local coffee shop on sunny days, or working 4 am to midday, the flexibility to move within your environment in a way to encourage creativity is important. It is essential that companies remember that creative people work best when assigned ‘tasks that need to be done’ rather than ‘hours that need to be worked’. One of the largest obstacles for this is trust. Some employers feel like their staff won’t function without their constant supervision; however, studies have shown that creative employees show a higher level of dedication and engagement when they have the freedom to work how they want and when they want.