When living and working in such a digitally and technologically connected culture, it’s way too easy to sit behind a screen and think that you are getting all the information you need to do your best work. Articles, webinars, streaming video and audio and project management tools (read: Slack, Monday.com and Asana) just to name a few – all provide the connectivity and information for us to get inspired, put the puzzle pieces together and ultimately get the job done. But is it enough to produce the best work possible?

Think of it this way, usually in the morning, you are ready and rearing to go (fueled by caffeine at least) – ideas are flowing, and you get to your desk to knock those ideas out of the park. As the day goes on, the momentum seems to slip, and finally, the afternoon comes, and the process doesn’t have quite the spark as when the day began. The same goes for a siloed creative process. It is one thing to collaborate with your team on specific projects, but in order to bring a stream of fresh ideas to the table, you need to be stimulated from beyond the desk.

Creative Project
Photo by Octavian Dan on Unsplash

Throughout the project’s lifecycle, there are many peaks and valleys to manage. The process entails much more than just having the right project management software and following a tried and true pathway. As creatives, we must constantly strive to innovate – even if it simply involves the generation of new ideas for the optimal flow of a project.

The dream is alive
The dream is alive. Wacom (@wacom) via twitter #dwpdx

For many, particularly in smaller creative groups, formal project management is something to steer away from due to fear of constraints and diminishing the creative process. And yet, usually, there are no alternate processes put in place to keep the flow of a project moving, resulting in stalled jobs, team discord and client dissatisfaction. Even if a ‘traditional’ approach to project pipeline management isn’t implemented, a set of loose guidelines to reach the desired end result can be put in place, even heightening the positive impact for the agency or creative group.

Creative Process
Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Set The Tone

Through collaborative kick-off meetings with both the client and internal teams, critical information is gleaned and should be turned into a creative brief. Many creatives bypass the use of a creative brief due to the fact that it can be a difficult task to accomplish and all the ambiguities that are present. Paring gathered information down to simple and straightforward points, or a punch list can be a daunting task – simplicity is not easily accomplished. However, a few tried and tested guidelines and “who, what, where, when’s” can help structure information and get everyone on the “same page.” These implementations can be scaled for an agency or integrated internal team use to improve workflow as a part of a project management process. A creative brief can be a set of questions posed to a client or the union of information gathered by the agency presented to a client.

Identify Strength

Understanding the needs of the project is critical – so putting the right creatives in place to implement the job correctly is critical. The right placement of people can make or break a project. Not everyone is great with clients, so put the client-facing people at the front lines. If you have a great designer that isn’t as great with clients – make sure they are included in kick-offs and creative briefs so they have a clear view of the job to get the design dialed in. Ensuring that the team is communicating is critical to making resource management work.

Remain Deliverables Driven

An iterative approach to design can be an ideal route for many projects – but few projects have the budget to support extended versioning. The team goal or end result must always be in view. Identifying the desired end result and working back to determine the necessary course of action and milestones before the project really gets moving can actually free up space for greater creativity. With a set of project boundaries, creatives can experience heightened flexibility.

Take Note

As a project wraps up, it’s easy to jump to the next client or agency deliverable. It’s essential to take a step back and conduct a project in hindsight with a project kick-off. This will allow a team to take a moment and revel in a project done right or identify the pitfalls that emerged. Ensure the assets are provided to update a digital or print portfolio to keep identity up to date.

All of these steps point to a team’s greater understanding of the project and client goals. By implementing these strategies, the opportunities for greater creation and creativity can flourish.