In both the creative process and double Dutch, it’s a lot easier to jump in when you can see what’s going on. For either, leaving your mark without disrupting the flow is an artform in itself. If you trip up, it’s game over.
Hopping into a creative project can feel a bit like navigating two twirling ropes whipping around. Whether you’re gearing up for your part of the project or just checking in to provide input, you want to jump in smoothly. If you do it blindly, it’s going to be rough.
Transparency keeps the flow jumping. Knowing project goals, status and requirements before getting involved can prevent unnecessary stumbles.
Without project transparency, momentum slows down. Coworkers ask unnecessary questions because they can’t find answers any other way. Bosses start to get nervous because they don’t know the project status, and then they misbehave by micromanaging. This often leads to some unnecessary meetings and more wasted time. Even worse, it’s really demotivating for the team.
Some companies try to make creative projects transparent by using project management software. As tech strategist and productivity hacker David Burk puts it, “those tools are just a way for people to put things on someone else’s to-do list without asking.
General purpose project management tools are a good way to make tasks and project status more visible, and they can help. But they leave room for improvement. Generally speaking, they don’t provide easy access to briefing documents and project background, or a way to effectively collaborate and collect feedback. They also lack tools for speeding up review and approval, which in many organizations sucks up as much as 60% of creative project cycle time.
Get More Help Than Hassle
The end game isn’t just visibility into project or approval status. It’s about coordinating the efforts of a team, each member of which has an important contribution to make. That’s the secret to double Dutch and creative projects. You want everybody to do their part fully informed and aware without having to lean too much on others.
We’ve spent time talking with our customers about practices they use to speed up creative projects and keep them running smoothly. We’ve summarized some of them below.
- Collaborate on creative briefs and get buy-in up front. Make briefs visible to all so they understand strategy, goals and requirements.
- Provide all the stakeholders, whether they are in-house or an agency, access to project status, next steps and who’s accountable for what.
- Keep project status up-to-date to eliminate unnecessary emails, meetings and shoulder taps.
- Put all of the context, communication and assets for projects in one place that everyone has access to and knows how to find, no matter where they sit.
- Allow everyone to make the best use of their time by giving them visibility into when to expect work and prioritize accordingly.
- Be specific about who will resolve conflicting feedback and make sure they’re available.
- Keep a record of changes and decisions where everyone can see it so there’s no confusion about what’s already been done and decided.
- Manage reviews progressively, and be clear about who has authority to comment on what. Many companies narrow the list of reviewers as projects get closer to completion.
- Aim to keep review cycles to three or fewer. It’s a best-practice standard that high-functioning teams are able to hit.
- Be clear about who needs to provide final approvals.
- Post clear rules about approval protocol to avoid getting stuck. For example, if no response in XX hours, approval is assumed. And if you’re on vacation, tell everybody who’s reviewing for you.
- Agree to lead and turnaround times with legal and anyone else no involved from start to finish.
These recommendations helped shape features you’ll find in our new creative workflow product, Workstream. If you’d like to see more, take a quick look at our intro video, or read the product page for more details.