Year-over-year,businesses are continuing to see the value of the creative team’s contributions and the direct impact they have on meeting overall business objectives. As the investment in in-house teams grows, these teams often find that they need to improve, or establish, workflows and process management to help keep the team running smoothly. When Terri Watkins, Vice President of Production, joined me and my BIG ideas, she knew her first initiative would be to develop and maintain a more robust process to manage the creative team’s increasing workload.
me and my BIG ideas is a designer and manufacturer of paper goods products with their core business in the planning industry. Because of their placement within a creative industry, high-quality creative work is of the utmost importance to their business. The 22-person production team is tasked with producing the final deliverables for over 2,800 unique products across seven categories for six launches each year. As the company continued to grow at an aggressive pace, Terri Watkins, and Sherri Costa, Traffic Manager, realized that they would need a better creative workflow management solution in order to meet their commitments to the business.
As they began to evaluate creative workflow management solutions, Terri and Sherri identified the top challenges in their current process:
- Lack of online proofing. Their previous solution didn’t offer a way to review proofs online, so they were spending time and money printing and mailing (often over-night) hard copies of proofs to stakeholders. Once returned, they would have to consolidate the disparate, handwritten feedback for the designers to start making edits. Their top requirement was a cloud-based SaaS software that offered online proofing to streamline the process of getting final approval from stakeholders. Having an efficient process for getting work approved was crucial for the team, since they complete an average of almost 200 projects each month.
- No time tracking. Without the ability to track how much time each type of work took to produce, Sherri couldn’t accurately answer requests for work. “We would just say ‘yes’ and then work nights and weekends to make it happen. You don’t want to let anyone down.” It was crucial that the new platform allowed them to track time to develop a stronger understanding of level of effort for each project type.
- Limited Process Structure. As me and my BIG ideas continued to grow quickly it was difficult to develop and maintain processes. “This company has grown amazingly fast in the past few years, and part of that fast growth has been a lack of process. The old way was just to panic and send 10 emails.” Terri knew that any workflow management platform they adopted would need to be flexible and nimble enough to adapt to their team’s unique needs.
The ease-of-use and flexibility to adapt to their specific needs, as well as being a purpose-built solution for creative teams, were the main drivers for selecting inMotion ignite. As Terri put it: “We are in a creative environment. We chose inMotion ignite because it is focused on creatives and the interface and UX work the way our brains work.”
Onboarding and Customer Service
Selecting a new creative project management platform and getting a team of 20+ core users onboarded is no small feat, but with inMotion ignite, me and my BIG ideas was up and running quickly and smoothly. “inMotion listens and actively responds to our needs and provides answers and solutions to what real users need” Terri noted.
In addition to the core team, getting stakeholders, including the sales team, to adopt ignite was also a much easier process than Terri expected: “It’s incredible, no one is pushing back. Everyone wants to know how they can start using ignite, and the sales team is praising us for choosing such a great software! We picked inMotion ignite because it would make our lives easier, but they are happily learning new processes and love using the platform.” Happy stakeholders are an important, since Terri’s team receives almost 70 requests every month!
Life with inMotion ignite
As Terri and Sherri finished onboarding their team to inMotion ignite they were delighted to find that ignite not only resolved the key challenges they had identified, but it had also delivered additional benefits. Having a single source of truth provided increased transparency into the project status and timeline and the extension for the Adobe Creative Cloud increased and efficiency of work for the creative team.
The features that have made the biggest impact for the team include:
- Online proofing. With inMotion ignite’s online proofing solution the creative team can quickly and easily route proofs for review and get feedback from all stakeholders in one place. The proofing process has improved so much that the team is now frequently getting work approved in the first round, meaning they don’t have to spend time generating multiple versions for review. Even better, no more time or resources are wasted printing, mailing, and waiting for return on hard copies of proofs. As Sherri put it: “It’s huge. It saves time and it saves the trees.”
- Time Tracking. With the Time Tracking feature in inMotion ignite, the team can record the time they spend on each task as they work on projects. Terri and Sherri can report on that time in ignite to see how long different types of projects take and how much time needs to be allotted to each step of the project. “Time Tracking is a massive tool for us in our overall resource planning efforts. When you talk about resource planning, you need to know how long each step of the process takes so you can say what a reasonable turnaround time is for a project. With the data we’re now collecting in inMotion ignite we are going to be able to say that and be supported by data” said Terri.
- Transparency. A common problem for creative teams that don’t have a central creative workflow management platform is losing collaboration in endless, disparate email chains. me and my BIG ideas was no exception. Terri shared an example of what that looks like: “When I opened up my inbox there were five emails from three different people giving art direction for one of my designers. Someone had asked a simple question that turned into a whole email chain. If I hadn’t been CC’d my team would be blind to that decision. Going forward, all of the information that is being discussed will be on the proof, providing the designer with the feedback and direction to know exactly what to do.” Terri emphasized the importance of having a single source of truth: “The fact that what you need is in one location is incredible. No more emails, no more phone calls, no more conversations in the hallway. I tell my team, ‘If you win the lottery tomorrow and don’t come back to work, someone else has to do your job. If everything is in one location, then the person behind you will be successful.’”
Connecting to Adobe Creative Cloud
The inMotion ignite feature that has had the biggest impact on the creative team at me and my BIG ideas is the inMotion Extension for Adobe Creative Cloud. The integration between inMotion ignite and Adobe CC allows creatives to spend more time doing the work they love in their favorite Adobe applications like Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop. For the creative team, this means designers can work more efficiently to turn around work faster. As Terri outlined: “The Adobe Extension makes it extraordinarily fast for our team members who are buried in the day-to-day work of just pumping out art. They don’t have to leave the system, it’s just a couple of clicks and it’s off their plate. They can stay in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. They don’t have to close that down and open that up, go to this screen, etc. It makes them more efficient, it’s definitely faster, and it’s a pleasant experience.”
It was also important to Terri that her team has a robust extension – something that could really handle the volume of work they produce: “We might be working on a 100-page sticker book that has 100 artboards in Illustrator. At first we were asking ‘How are we going to upload that into a proofing system?’ but you guys had already figured it out, because our designer can use the Adobe Extension to upload that whole document and the system organizes and numbers the pages for them, making it easy to review.”
At the end of the day, the most important thing to the creatives at me and my BIG ideas is to be able to devote their time to doing the work they love and that moves the needle for the business. With the inMotion Extension for Adobe CC they are able to streamline all the admin tasks and spend more time in Adobe. As Terri put it: “Our designers adopted it immediately. They see a huge value in the extension. They are all spoiled now, because if they ever have to go without it, the process of exporting and saving and dealing with versions is going to slow them down a lot.”
More Time Back for Creativity
With inMotion ignite the creative team at me and my BIG ideas has built a robust process to manage their creative workflow, making it easier to plan new work with increased accuracy. They have strengthened the relationship with their stakeholders, and their designers love how much easier it is to send work out for review.
To learn how your team can increase the efficiency of your creative workflow, request your custom demo of inMotion ignite today.
Elise Hauser is a product and content marketer with a passion for telling brand stories. She has produced inMotionNow’s annual In-House Creative Management Report for 3 years, webinars, content sessions for major industry events reaching audiences of 1,000+, and of course, countless blog posts. When Elise isn’t writing about the marketing and creative industry at inMotionNow she is teaching economics and hanging out with her cat, Tucker, at her home in Raleigh, NC.