People are the key to better workflow

Now more than ever, efficient workflow is critical to the success of an agency. Without it, even the most creative firm may find itself in a state of chaos.

You have to meet deadlines. Period.
You have to stay within budget. Period.
You have to know who’s doing what (or nothing at all) and when.
And, most importantly, you have to have the right tools.

A centralized , ideally overseen by someone whose sole responsibility is its maintenance, can save valuable time and money. Task, time and expense management, client access to materials, and instant retrieval of information are indispensable features of a strong workflow system. But perhaps the most important thing you can do to increase efficiency is to promote “efficient-thinking” among your employees.

Keeping your agency culture and current needs in mind, ask yourself the following questions. Do team members log in regularly to check the status of projects? Are they aware of “big picture” reports available to them? Does someone touch base each morning to discuss, “what’s hot and what’s not?” How can employees better plan their workdays (e.g. meetings, research, email, “groove time,” etc.)?

In terms of your agency’s physical environment, do employees have all necessary supplies, including up-to-date software, comfortable (ergonomic) work stations, proper lighting, etc.?

Next, consider the projects themselves. As soon as the estimate has been approved, outline the job’s Critical Path. Make sure the copywriter has what he needs (e.g. copy mandatories, an understanding of tone, etc.). Can the art director begin searching for stock photos? Can the account coordinator find missing information on the client’s website or via another source?

When dealing with slow-to-quote vendors, explore your alternatives. Research other providers on line. Can you purchase padded mailers now (on sale!) or have labels pre-printed? If you’re in danger of missing deadlines, revise the timeline(s) and let everyone know; making sure the client is in the loop. Think about what can be done, now, to speed things up once printed materials are actually in-house.

If incoming client revisions are minimal, consider re-arranging the artist’s workload. Can he make the change now rather than wait until tomorrow? If the account supervisor can approve the ad in the absence of an account executive, seek her out.

Every agency employee plays an integral role in workflow success. Through the combination of a centralized traffic system, managerial commitment and employee dedication, your agency can experience unparalleled efficiency and profitability.

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