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9 Ways To Streamline Creative Projects

  • 8 min read

Laura Quiambao is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Wrike with a passion for using stories to share helpful tips, best practices, and insights. When she's not writing, you'll find her voice-over acting, rock climbing, disc golfing, travelling, and cooking with her husband.

Creative marketers get requests from all angles and often need to partner cross-functionally to execute their projects. On top of that, the external world isn’t their only audience — they need to keep the internal organization up-to-date and aligned on branding too.

Between email campaigns, webpages, UX, design, sales assets, and more, marketing is the bridge that holds a company together. They maintain the brand consistency that’s critical to growth, but if they — and the folks in their organizations — can’t find approved assets, all that work is in vain.

In one survey, 49% of professionals reported they have trouble locating documents and spend 19.8%, or 1 day a week, of their time at work looking for information. In another survey, 40% of creative and design leaders reported that outdated workflows were a major internal barrier to getting projects done on time.

Instead of letting poor processes and siloed asset libraries slow you down, here are 9 ways to streamline your creative projects.

9 ways to streamline creative projects

1. Keep creatives in the tools they love

For creatives, everything is easier when they don’t have to hop in between tools, breaking their workflow. By minimizing the amount of time your creative team is spending hopping between tools, you are maximizing your spend on creativity and saving one of the most valuable resources - time.

Creative-Projects-1A solution that can help is Wrike's Extension for Adobe Creative Cloud. This integration allows creatives to work with Wrike tasks from Adobe Creative Cloud, and link Adobe file attachments to these  tasks. Creatives can work on designs in Adobe, upload them to Wrike, and then tag whoever is responsible for reviewing and approving them.

Keep track of versioning.
Once an image is linked, you can quickly update it and add a new preview version of the file to Wrike, making it easy to keep track of iterations instead of searching through emails or IMs. Once approved, assets can go right into your DAM. Everything is in one place and easy to use. 

2. Use customizable intake forms for campaign briefs and easily add new projects to your workflow

Creative-Projects-2With requests coming in from all directions, implementing a kick-off process helps creative teams add new projects to their workflow without skipping a beat. Customizable forms take in all the information needed to properly scope out the work. Forms should collect information like campaign concept, execution channels, goals, and deadlines.

Going an extra step, Wrike Forms can auto-assign projects based on how the form is filled out. For example, you can preset who to assign to a web design versus an ebook project. This gets projects started faster — making everyone happy.

3. Use Gantt charts to visualize deadlines, milestones, and dependencies

Creative-Projects-3Now that you understand the scope and deadlines, it’s time to identify milestones and dependencies. Start creating tasks and subtasks for each step of the project. Subtasks should be full of information. For example, including relevant design assets, pulled from your digital asset management (DAM) system, right in the task ensures that project members have the creative files needed to keep branding consistent.

With your tasks lined up, take a look at your project with a Gantt chart view. A Gantt chart helps you visualize project timelines, define dependencies, and ensure everything will move smoothly. Use it to accurately forecast how long each step will take. When you locate potential bottlenecks, add in extra time to key tasks for a strategic cushion.

4. Use a workload view as you assign tasks to your team to help avoid bottlenecks and burnout

Assign tasks in your work management platform and check to make sure that the team has a balanced workload. The truth is, creative teams in particular need time and space to innovate. Being bogged down with too much work impairs their ability to produce show-stopping pieces.

Creative-Projects-496% of professionals feel stress at work. Some of the top reasons for stress are poor communication, members not pulling their weight, bottlenecks, and being overloaded. Using a workload dashboard view helps managers visualize their resources to minimize these common stressors.

Want a pro tip? Task one project manager with ensuring project completion from start to finish. Although you may have other team members working on it, having one person in charge helps tasks stay on track. Plus, a clear point of contact makes communication so much easier — especially as you work cross-functionally with other teams.

You can also save task owners and project stakeholders time by automating workflow status updates. This keeps anyone assigned in the loop on project status so they know what’s coming down the pike. More on that in step 6!

5. Centralize your communication and library of digital assets

Ever had to dig through a long, forwarded email chain searching for the information you need? Keeping collaboration within one central hub ensures all members have everything they need at their fingertips. Hold conversations about key project information within your work management platform. This ensures all stakeholders have visibility and alignment on campaign visuals.

Wrike provides a single, chronological, and contextual space for easy reference. Automating project updates simplify communication and saves hours spent on status update emails and meetings.

With collaboration and communication in one place, it’s easy to review past campaigns and assets used. Within your DAM library, analyze opportunities for re-use and generate ideas for visual content.

6. Keep people accountable and on track with clear workflows

On one hand, you want to touch base over the span of a project to ensure everything is on time. Without the right tools though, status updates can cause unexpected delays.  66% of professional services teams spend more than 2 hours a week sending project status update emails, generating status reports, or having status update meetings.

Creative-Projects-5That valuable time can be given back to creatives by optimizing workflow statuses and automating status change notifications. Workflow statuses help everyone know where the project sits with a single glance — minimizing the need for emails or meetings.

While having a set process for projects may sound too rigid for creative types, it can actually provide a safe space for creativity and innovation. Constant IM pinging, siloed emails, and sidebars at team members’ desks is distracting and takes them out of the flow. Instead, maintain your internal team process while staying flexible to other teams’ or clients’ processes by setting a one-stop-shop for communication that your creatives can check on their terms.

7. Make feedback and approval interactive and actionable

Creative-Projects-6Waiting for feedback can be frustrating and trigger bottlenecks. You can either hear crickets or too many voices. If all the feedback is scattered between emails and IMs, iterations can get lost. In our recent survey, 21% of professional services teams struggle with consolidating feedback, which is reflective of most teams who depend on feedback for their projects. In another survey, 43% of companies said they have trouble with document approval requests and sharing.

Want to make proofing and approvals seamless? Developing and enabling collaboration right from the start makes proofing conversations easier and shortens review cycles. With the right tools, creatives can download files directly from their DAM, like MediaValet, to their work management tool, like Wrike.

Whether it’s a new or existing asset, capabilities like Wrike Proof let stakeholders visually mark up assets right in the project. This makes it easier for creatives to take action on feedback.

8. Make approved creative assets readily available

Creative projects don’t just end when the asset is made. Assets need to be published and campaigns need to launch. Once a file is approved, upload it to your DAM to make it easy for the entire organization to find and use. For example, teams can use Wrike Publish to publish approved assets to MediaValet directly within Wrike tasks — saving precious time.

Once approved and uploaded into your DAM library, add relevant categories, metadata, and keywords to optimize discoverability for those associated with the campaign. Ensure that all assets associated with a campaign, like photos, logos, design files, and final pieces, are properly categorized within your DAM to make repeated re-use a breeze.

An added bonus? Having files readily available in one place curves redundant creative requests!

9. Optimize your creative workflow over time

Even though it can seem like creative projects are always different, many of them include similar steps. Templates are a great tool to help make project setup easier, and ensure processes are consistent helping creatives improve productivity. Templates can be used for marketing campaigns, product launches, creative briefs and more.

Templates can also help you analyze inefficiencies in your campaign’s creative workflow and identify opportunities to optimize future project workflows. Easily adjust templates as needed so you can recreate success again and again.

Better together

In order to stay agile and flexible, creative marketers need tools that streamline their workflow. They need a work management solution and a central library so they can easily manage, collaborate on, and distribute assets. Not only does this improve productivity, but it also increases ROI on marketing investments.

As more and more marketing teams look to optimize their collaboration and communication, they’re looking to DAM systems and work management platforms for help. Wrike and MediaValet partner to help teams save time, increase brand consistency, and maximize the impact of their marketing assets.

Learn how Wrike and MediaValet can help streamline creative projects.

MediaValet Team