Project kickoff is one of the most difficult parts of any creative project. Here are 4 tips to help your team kick of projects better in 2019!
For many teams, the hardest part of any creative project is getting started. In the 2018 In-House Creative Management Report, 42% of creatives said that creative briefing and project intake are the biggest challenges in their workflow, and 66% said that obtaining the necessary information to begin work was difficult or very difficult.
As more organizations bring their creative work in-house, and demand for that work continues to grow, creative teams will need to find ways to streamline their workflow to turn around high-quality work, faster. The first step to improving the creative workflow is to build a robust briefing process. Here are 4 steps you can take today as a creative leader to improve project intake.
1. Build a Better Brief
Clients requesting creative work often submit lack-luster creative briefs that are not complete and missing crucial information.
While creative teams should certainly hold requesters accountable for the briefs they submit, they should also understand that most clients don’t come from a creative background and have no clue what an effective creative brief looks like.
If the client does not have a creative brief template to work from, they will either not include enough information, or throw in the kitchen sink, just in case. Even if you have provided them with a template, they will often turn it in only half done because they don’t know how to answer all the questions on it, or they assume it’s a general-purpose form and not everything is required.
The solution to this problem is to provide your requesters with project-specific forms. Specialized forms minimize the amount of information the requester must fill out, making it more likely that they will complete the entire form.
If the thought of creating multiple forms is daunting, never fear! Creative workflow software like inMotion ignite can help. For example, dynamic online forms update as the requester fills them out, so they only need to fill out relevant information.
With inMotion ignite, you can also control which requesters have access to which forms. This makes it easy for requesters to access the correct form, without wading through forms that are not relevant to their needs.
2. Get the Context
When clients request work, they often fail to provide the broader context surrounding the project. The best creative work happens when the creative team understands the objectives of the larger project, and how their work fits into it.
In the creative brief, ask requesters for some insight into the project and what role they see the creative playing in the campaign. When they understand the full context, your designers can produce relevant, high-performing work that the clients will love. Additionally, being looped in will position your team as a strategic business partner, and not just a service organization churning out work on demand.
3. Collaborate In-Person
Before the client submits the creative brief, they should meet with the creative team. This meeting should include some combination of creative management (creative director, account manager, etc., depending on team structure) and the designer(s) that will be working on the project. The purpose of this meeting is essentially for the requester to explain what they are looking for, and for the creative team to respond with questions. This format allows for a literal dialogue between the two teams and is the most efficient way for the creative team to understand what the client is asking for and provide feedback or suggestions. This is also a good opportunity to discuss the broader context of the project as well.
4. Collaborate Online
After the in-person meeting, the client should submit the written creative brief. Even with the in-person meeting, the creative team still needs the documentation for their project management process. By using an online portal for requests, the creative team has a single place where they can access the brief and communicate with the requester. An online request intake portal also helps project or traffic managers control the inflow of requests.
Additionally, the written creative brief serves as a sort of contract between the client and the creative team. The creative team can refer back to it as they work to make sure they are producing what the request has asked for, and when they present the work, they can show how it follows the brief.
The benefit of having both an in-person meeting and a solid written brief is that the work produced by the creative team should be very closely aligned to what the requester wants. Additional edits should be minor. However, clients have been known to change their minds and want to take work in an entirely different direction after seeing an initial presentation. If this happens, having the written brief gives the creative team solid ground to stand on. The client may insist on the new direction, but the creative team is able to show how much the new work deviates from the original project and require a new brief and a new timeline for the new work.
It is also important that during the process, clients have a way to keep tabs on the project. Remember, this creative work plays a crucial role in their project or campaign, and they are anxious to get the final work! Keeping clients happy and feeling informed without letting them insert themselves too much into the process is a fine line to walk. Leveraging an online request intake portal allows clients to check on project statuses and communicate with the creative team while simultaneously keeping them “out of the kitchen” and preserving the space the creative team needs to manage their work.
Finally, when a project is completed, the creative brief should be included in the package of final deliverables to the client. With inMotion ignite, as designers finish a project, they can access the original request to attach the final approved work and send the complete package back to the client. This allows the client to see that the final work matches the original request.
Revamping your creative briefing process may feel daunting, but it will have a huge impact on your creative team’s ability to effectively manage projects and keep up with demand. Creative workflow software like inMotion ignite can help streamline creative briefing and project intake. Learn how with a personalized demo.
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.