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Workflow Checkup Report

What does your Workflow check up Report mean?

Your report identified areas of your workflow that are opportunities for improvement, and we’ve provided resources below to guide you. For each workflow area, you’ll find information on how your grade was evaluated along with tips that will help you improve your grade.

Job Requests & Kick off

How your grade was evaluated

Your grade was based on 1) how frequently you use a formal process for accepting new creative requests, 2) how frequently your clients provide all required project information in their initial requests, and 3) how frequently new requests get authorized by a manager or supervisor.

These metrics gauge a key component of project kick-off: how information is transferred between your clients and your creative team. When that information transfer occurs smoothly, teams have the information that they need to begin work, management has the information that they need to prioritize the team’s work and assign resources, and clients have a firm understanding of what to expect from the creative team.

  1. How to improve your grade
    Develop a formal request process and stick to it
    To effectively prioritize and manage your team’s pipeline of new projects, you need to consistently execute a formal process for the intake of creative requests. Some teams use printed creative briefs, others use online work orders, and some use creative brief management tools like inMotion’s Job Launch.
  2. Develop an effective request form
    Whatever method you use to intake new requests, make sure that all requests come through the same channel and go through a manager or supervisor. Providing a variety of request forms for different types of projects can make it easier to get the necessary information.
  3. Use request forms to communicate to clients
    You can also use your request forms as a way to communicate to your clients. Make sure forms include typical timelines for projects so they know when they can expect to see proofs and the finished product. You could also give an example of other work and provide resources for best practices that will keep clients from providing counterproductive feedback later in the project

A note: If your clients are accustomed to making casual requests over email or a phone call or in a “desk drive-by”, it can be hard to change that culture. Make sure clients understand that the changes are being put in place to get their projects kicked off faster and to better meet their needs. Consider going through the process with them as a training exercise to make sure they understand the process and appreciate its importance. Also, empower your team to ask for casual requests to be resubmitted using the formal process.

Project intake and kick-off is an important opportunity to foster a good relationship with your clients and ensure that projects get kicked off on the right foot.

Project Management

How your grade was evaluated
Your grade was based on 1) how much time your team spends on administrating projects, 2) how confident you are in the real-time accuracy of your project status information, and 3) how frequently your projects go over deadline.

The bulk of the project lifecycle happens in this stage, where tasks are being completed and work is being produced. For workflow to be efficient during this stage, managers must have visibility into projects in order to effectively administrate / manage those projects and ensure that the team’s efforts align with priorities and available resources. Traditionally, project tracking and visibility come at the cost of time spent on non-revenue generating activities, like updating reports and participating in status meetings. Reducing this administrative effort – while maintaining visibility – is critical to shortening project lifecycles.

How to improve your grade

  1. Consider project management software
    Improving efficiency in project management can be tricky, because if you simply reduce the time spent tracking project status then the accuracy of that status info can suffer. That’s why project management software has become so popular. By centralizing project information with a PM tool, you can eliminate redundancies in the effort (like somebody updating the same project status info in two different reports) and ensure that your team not only shares access to status information but also shares responsibility for maintaining up-to-date status information. Workflow automation solutions like inMotion can even provide real-time status info, making project tracking even more streamlined.
  2. Get task and proof status info
    Whatever method you’re using to track your projects, you’ll need to be able to parse project information in a few different ways. Project status alone is usually not enough, you’ll need two other pieces of information: 1) the status of tasks associated with that project, usually from of a task list showing complete and incomplete tasks, and 2) the status of proofs associated with that project and whether they’ve been sent out for review, are being revised, or have been approved. Once you have this information, you’ll be able to more accurately gauge the level of effort remaining for your ongoing projects. You may also find it helpful to review projects and tasks grouped by a responsible team member, so you can keep work assignments balanced and prioritized.
  3. Use a deadline calendar
    Ultimately, it’s all about the deadline. Make sure that project deadlines are clearly communicated to everyone on the team, and that team / project managers are aware of all upcoming deadlines so they can shuffle workloads and priorities as necessary to keep projects on schedule. A shared calendar is a simple and effective tool for monitoring upcoming deadlines.

Review & Approval

How your grade was evaluated

Your grade was based on 1) how long it takes your team to get creative work reviewed and approved, 2) the number of revisions a proof goes through before being approved, and 3) whether you are maintaining an audit trail of proof sign-offs.

For many creative teams, the review stage is where the biggest efficiency leaks in their workflow occur. It requires a lot of administrative work (chasing down approvals, compiling and interpreting feedback) and adds a lot of waiting periods to project timelines. No matter how efficient your team is at producing creative work, long approval times can still lengthen your project lifecycle and reduce your productivity. Review and approval is also a critically important stage: releasing content to market without the appropriate sign-offs can cause a lot of problems – but many teams lack a reliable audit trail of who approved content.

How to improve your grade

  1. Improve your clients’ review experience
    If it takes more than a day to get feedback on a proof after it is sent to reviewers, you need to address your reviewers and find out what is causing them to delay providing feedback. Often reviewers find the review process cumbersome or they’re unclear about what kind of feedback is required from them. Once you know why they’re delaying their review, you can take steps to make the process easier for them. You might want to consider an online proofing tool like inMotion’s, which can drastically improve your reviewers’ experience.
  2. Communicate review expectations to clients
    Occasionally, teams will find that there are also long breaks between versions even after the feedback has been returned. If that’s the case, you’ll need to speak with your design staff about what’s causing delays. It may be that they’re getting conflicting or confusing feedback, or that they simply lost momentum during the wait for feedback. Including a message to reviewers along with the proof with instructions and relevant deadlines can help get reviewers engaged with the content so you get better feedback faster.
  3. Train your clients to be good reviewers
    If you’re going through many rounds of review then there might be a few things at play: either there’s miscommunication between your clients and your creatives, or your clients don’t have a clear idea of what they want. Our eBook on Turning Clients into Creative Partners can help you improve communication between your clients and designers.

Metrics & Reporting

How your grade was evaluated
Your grade was based on 1) how many key productivity metrics (listed below) you are tracking, and 2) whether your team is tracking time.

Key Productivity Metrics

  • Number of projects completed
  • Length of project lifecycle
  • Number of versions per proof
  • Time to approval
  • Number of creative requests received

Without quantitatively evaluating your production process, it’s impossible to set benchmarks and track trends in performance. Productivity metrics are crucial for setting goals, identifying bottlenecks, and proving your teams’ value to your company’s executives.

The metrics listed above are a good place to start. Adding time tracking provides an even greater level of detail, allowing you to exactly calculate the level of effort for each project (as opposed to the average level of effort of all projects) and to better forecast timelines of future projects so you can provide more realistic deadlines and balance your team members workloads.

How to improve your grade

  1. Record key dates
    The first step is to start recording key dates (project kick-off and completion, proof sent for review and approval received) and numbers (creative requests, proof versions, and completed projects) so you can begin to track productivity metrics. You can use something as simple as a spreadsheet, or streamline your tracking with a project management tool like inMotion’s.
  2. Look for patterns
    Once you’re tracking these metrics, you can begin to set benchmarks and look for bottlenecks. Your bottlenecks might be seasonal lifts in number of requests, individual reviewers who delay the time to approval, specific content types (like video projects) that require a long project lifecycle, etc. Our whitepaper on Important Productivity Metrics for Creative Teams has more information on how to use metrics to improve your team’s workflow.
  3. Track time
    For time tracking, there are many applications available – web-based or installed, paid or free. Some applications, like inMotion’s Workflow Automation solution, include integrated time tracking.