Whether it’s a one-page holiday card sent to 100 people or a comprehensive annual report distributed to thousands of company stakeholders, any creative project your business takes on has its challenges. If your designer goes through several rounds of revisions, not only can there be confusion as to which version is the most recent, but multiple documents can also eat up email or FTP storage space. Executives need to sign off on the creative, but don’t want to be overloaded with the minutiae of daily edits and emails. And every person involved has to adhere to a timeline so that the finished piece is in the hands of shareholders or customers when it needs to be.
The good news is, there are technologies available today that make it easier to manage all those moving parts. Creative production management systems let you track a project from start to finish, with every element—calendar, multiple creative versions, hours—collected and organized in one place. In short, they are automated workflow systems for managing creative projects – either within corporate marketing departments or at creative agencies.
How Creative Production Management Systems Work
When you use a creative production management system, you follow the same basic steps as you would for any creative project, but the system keeps track of every move:
1. Create the project. With most creative production management systems, you begin a new project by filling out an existing template with information like project name, and the initial timeline for meetings and deliverables. Once you’ve created the project, you can add pertinent documents or resources such as creative briefs, background information, or graphic files that the designers might need.
2. Add collaborators. Creative production management lets you add as many users as you like who will be involved in the project by sending each person a one-time email inviting them to log into the project page and access whatever information they need. The best systems support multiple workflows, keeping tasks for project managers and creatives separate, for instance. Once added, collaborators can choose to be alerted as often (“Email me every time a document is updated”) or as infrequently (“Send me daily summaries of activity”) as they like. They’ll also be able to add comments and questions to uploaded files in the system enabling better tracking of feedback.
3. Upload revisions. When a designer submits a revision to a project, the most recent version is automatically added to the top of the uploaded documents—no more time wasted trying to decipher document-naming protocols or accidentally selecting an outdated version from your work server.
4. Track hours. Designers or writers can be required to submit hours worked each time a new document is uploaded, providing a simple at-a-glance overview of how close the project is to completion or how well those involved are able to work within the projected hours.
5. Submit for approval. When a project is on a fast track, it’s a challenge to scurry around the office trying to secure approval from the necessary parties - including, for example, legal, compliance, brand managers, etc. Creative production management systems notify appropriate users immediately when a project is ready for approval and lets everyone access and approve documents in one place, straight from their workstations. The automated workflow streamlines the approval process, and formalizes the process by adding the exact date and time that it occurs.
Managing Creative Requests
Many marketing departments find themselves spending an exceptional amount of time responding to internal requests for creative materials. These requests can be managed more efficiently when creative production management functionality is integrated within your marketing portal.
Marketing portals (also referred to as marketing resource management systems) give staff and and sales partners access to approved marketing materials. By setting up creative request forms within the portal, users can submit creative requests, both for new items or for updates to existing items, from within the portal. If administrators approve the request, the project is automatically created in the system and the process flows as outlined above.
Creative production management systems are another technology available to marketing professionals today designed to streamline the marketing process. And with the time that creative production management systems help free up, your creative team can spend more time being, well... creative.
How are you managing the production of creative materials today?