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Wrangling Your Creatives: How to get your creative team organised

So you’ve got a team of super amazing creative people and they have some incredible ideas for your client. There’s only one problem – you’re in charge of making sure these zany, deadline-averse people get the work done on time.

The thing about creatives is that they thrive in a certain level of freedom. But all too often, that freedom leads to chaos. And as the person responsible for getting the work to the client on time and on budget, chaos is not part of your job description.

So how do you wrangle those creatives and get them on task?

1. Get smart with creative project management software

In order the get your creatives to do their thing, you need some structure. Probably not as much structure as you’d personally like, but a bit of structure all the same. Now, for many years creative project management meant spreadsheets, printed job cover sheets, and endless lectures to remember to fill in your timesheet. This was inaccurate, slow, and mentally draining for creative people, who need the process side of things to be as simple as possible.

But now, we have project management software like WorkflowMax specifically designed with creative businesses like agencies in mind. WorkflowMax allows you to keep detailed data on each stage of a job, break it down into tasks, track time against these tasks, and invoice the client all from one single interface. And it has a few other tricks that make it a great creative project management software, too:

  • Using the collaboration manager, teams can easily collate project documentation such as emails, documents and other information into one place.
  • With the WorkflowMax iOS app, your team can track their time from wherever they are. It’s a great tool if your team have to work in different locations.
  • The Adobe Widget allows your creative team to enter their time directly from the Adobe Creative Suite.

2. Keep Processes Simple

There’s a constant struggle between creative and pragmatic project managers. One side likes to keep things very loose and free-flowing, while the other one needs strict frameworks, firm deadlines and clear milestones in order to feel secure.

While it might seem tempting to bombard the creative team with strict processes in order to bring them into line, it’s not going to be sustainable. The simple the processes are, the more likely the creatives will remember to follow them. Don’t force them to do double entry into multiple spreadsheets, or ask them to record every single tiny step of their creative process. Just focus on getting the big stuff right, and give them room to breathe and focus.

3. Create incentives

No one is immune to a little friendly bribery, and if you’re really having trouble getting the creative team to stick to their processes, it might be time to bring in a little friendly competition. Award a prize each month (maybe a bottle of wine or restaurant voucher) to the person who completes their timesheets first (as long as they’re also accurate).

As well as this, make sure that your creatives understand the advantages of accurate time tracking. This enables them to track their own progress in your project management software, so that they can measure their own performance and find out where they can improve.

4. Set the bar

Creatives often don’t like a lot of structure, but what they do like is to know what’s expected of them. They want to know how their work impacts the client, the company and the bottom line.

  • Ensure that everyone involved in the project understands the goals and significance.
  • Encourage creatives to take ownership for certain projects, clients, or project stages. Show them you believe they can do a great job, and they’ll strive to prove you right.
  • Help everyone to be invested in the big, strategic goals of the company, and how each project fits into that structure.

5. Don’t impose a schedule

The creative mind works better at certain times of the day. And that timing can differ depending on the person. Each creative knows their own routines and when they’re burning out on the thinking aspects of their job.

When I say “Don’t impose a schedule,” I’m not saying that you shouldn’t set deadlines and milestones. But let the creative team dictate when they work on each part of the project. Allow them to do their creative work at their optimal time of day. Don’t worry when they’re doing things, just that they’re doing them.

Do you manage a team of creatives? What tips can you offer? How does creative project management software help your team to achieve their goals?

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