Creative Agency Processes: Why Build a Timeline?
Read time: 8 minutes
Work is coming in fast and furious. Everyone is busy. Business is profitable. Life is good. What happens if a delivery date changes? Or a team member is out sick but their work can’t wait? What if the client wants a presentable peek at how things are going on their job? Well — if you were making use of timelines, little hiccups such as these would roll by like water off a duck’s back.
The Need For Creative Workflow Processes
An idea-generation, idea-review, idea-approval, and idea-implementation process is known as a creative workflow. To manage these activities in a project, you need creative workflow management, which adds structure and a set of rules that everyone in the team must abide by.
Creatives can strike a balance between promoting innovation and maintaining organization with the help of effective process workflows. Some experts believe that careful planning with a clear timeline is essential to their creativity.
A project timeline is a visual reference that enables agency teams to comprehend the flow of tasks required to finish a project on schedule. It provides a summary of all necessary tasks together with their assignments, priorities, and deadlines.
Each member of your team can benefit significantly from developing a timeline for projects of any size. Everyone can stay on task and operate with maximum efficiency if they have a well-defined strategy to rely on when circumstances are unclear. With a project timeline, teams can be sure that deadlines are met and that everyone is working together toward the same goal.
Why Build a Timeline?
Please review this quick list of good reasons to build timelines for all of your jobs.
Quick and Easy
Timelines can be built quickly, eliminating the “I just don’t have time” excuse. Systems such as Function Point allow for common timelines to be copied, as well as timeline templates to be built, so as to not eat up your day reinventing the wheel, every time work comes in. A good timeline is a good investment – input time at the start to get it created, and save time as the work progresses.
Get on the Same Page
The staff are great, but they’re not clairvoyant. (Gosh forbid they know what you really think of their interpretation of “corporate casual”). So they need to be looped in on what’s due now and what might be coming down the track. Through the use of timelines you can control the flow of work to the team while giving them the opportunity to gain intel on the job as a whole, and what’s in the pipeline with their name on it.
Manage Resources on the Fly
Staff get sick. Until reasonably priced robots can do more than vacuum and chase the cat, sickness is an eventuality. A timeline, especially in a workflow management system like FP, will allow you to efficiently move tasks to other available team members. Your work can continue, and staff can get better with a little less of a guilty conscience.
As the only guarantees in life are birth, death and taxes, you can bet that a work due date is rarely set in stone. When that due date moves, for the entire job, or a phase of the job, are you able to quickly adapt and carry that adaptation through to your team? Timelines with sophisticated date features mean you can shift some or all of the tasks within the timeline out as needed, and even keep the tasks landing on the days of the week your office is open. All within a couple of clicks to save you valuable time.
Get the Bigger Picture
Ask any friendly eagle and they’ll tell you — the view from up high is clear. A timeline can give you that eagle eye view, allow you to ensure the deadlines you’re setting are reasonable and feasible, and that all aspects of the work have been included and ordered soundly.
One Enter Data Once
Software systems that include timeline functionality (such as FP) allow for the content entered at the timeline level to be reusable. Information entered in the timeline becomes time track-able tasks to the staff. This information feeds your reports including staff utilization reports, resource allocation views and more.
I have a boss. My boss has a boss. Heck even my boss’s boss has a boss. If the “upper-ups” want to know what’s going on with agency work a well maintained timeline can provide a snapshot of where the job stands. For your in house stakeholders, who may have even less time to spare than you, this is pretty huge.
Timeline-building Tips for Creative Projects
End-to-end planning can create a solid foundation for any project. So if you’re looking for a means to guarantee your tasks can be finished as expected, a timeline is the solution. Here are some simple steps you may take to prevent wasting time or money.
Collect Your Materials
The most awful thing is starting a project only to learn midway through that you are missing essential resources. This not only causes delayed outcomes but also leaves you scurrying to fill the gaps. This is especially true for initiatives that are outsourced and require the initial contribution of outside creative talents.
It’s crucial to assess your resources at this early stage of a project, both those you currently possess and those you need to acquire. Resources encompass both tangible elements like written or graphic works as well as the expertise of your team. Don’t forget to identify the assets you lack when listing the ones you already have. The key to getting a project off to the appropriate start is clearly outlining the creative materials and tools required.
Follow the Timeline
Setting up a timeline is simply one part of ensuring your project goes well and has a positive outcome. The other component is following that timeline diligently. A common error people make is devoting too much time to creating a schedule but failing to adhere to it in practice. So you need to stick to the efforts you have already invested in.
Knowing how long it will take to achieve the goal and how to get there is crucial. In the event that your timeline was accurately produced, trust the procedure to lead you to your desired and necessary destination.
Set A Role And Responsibility
There is nothing worse than trying to multitask and taking multiple roles, or even worse, not knowing what role you play. To ensure everyone is focused and productive to cover all bases, you must clearly define their responsibilities. It not only helps with conflict avoidance but also with effective teamwork.
Your project can comprise multiple stakeholders such as the content executives, video creators, animators, copywriters, etc. Since each individual has a specialty, it’s critical to pinpoint strengths and assign them proper tasks during the creative workflow process. This way, everyone is aware of their duties and can contribute to the project’s success.
Establishing roles and duties reduces work complexity and minimizes potential issues. A graphic designer, for example, can not be expected to oversee a project involving video editing if that is not their area of expertise. There is a narrow line here between collaboration and multitasking. While working as a team, everyone should always stay in their designated responsibilities.
Specify Each Deliverable
All items that can be provided, such as preliminary work, finished products, and adjustments, are referred to as deliverables. However, many agency creatives overlook and undervalue this step in the timetable design process, often focusing solely on the final product as the deliverable. This is a serious error; no project should have a single deliverable throughout its life. Drafts and revisions are necessary for a fantastic result, so plan for them as well.
Word counts and file type (PNG, JPEG, etc.) definitions might help clarify what is required at each checkpoint. When the entire project’s scope is broken down to the smallest elements, you can reduce the number of revisions and the time spent on adjustments. As you can’t write a recipe without specifying the measurements of each ingredient, the same holds true for creative work.
Hold Frequent Update Meetings
Constant communication is essential to ensure the finished result meet both the client’s expectations and the team’s commitments. For example, project managers must notify the client of the project’s status, and team members must provide regular updates on their assigned tasks and any challenges they face.
Creating creative processes brings structure and control to the production of creative work. However, you should also maintain some flexibility and responsiveness for timeline modification when project requirements and objectives change.
Team members can better grasp their responsibilities and the due dates for their contributions by using creative processes. Workflows also offer the transparency that allow clients to quickly and easily see the status of their projects without having to contact project managers for updates.
With existing software and technology, it’s now simpler than ever to create a timetable that gives your team a central platform to monitor progress and make adjustments in real time. Most importantly, it provides stakeholders with a simple mechanism to review and approve project milestones.
Talk to your FP point of contact, look over our training materials or reach out to the training team to learn more about building timelines. It can be well worth your efforts.