9 ways to organize successful creative projects

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March 14, 2017
9 ways to organize successful creative projects.
Getting your project organized and easily manageable is always a challenge when working as a part of a team. The problem reaches a whole new level when it concerns a creative project. Creativity blossoms the most when it’s unlimited while collaborative projects crumble without rules. So what to do with a creative agency project that requires teamwork and collaboration? Organization and leadership, if executed correctly, doesn’t have to affect the creative process. Here are nine practical tips to keep your designer team organized no matter the task at hand!

1. The Art of Prioritization

Some projects are more complex than others. To keep yourself from being overwhelmed, identify the most important tasks (your MITs) that need to be worked on before the project can go to the next level. The secret is to determine a limited (realistic) number of crucial tasks that need to be done and try to complete them first. Giving your team a realistic deadline will give each day a structure and a particular purpose. It’s a great way to slay a particularly big beast of a project, or finally, complete those little tasks that have been passed around the office like a hot potato and eventually forgotten. Defining MITs will allow the designer team take charge of the day rather than just react to whatever is thrown at them.

2. Take Advantage of a Project Management Tool

The phrase ‘project management tool’ sounds like a drag but, in fact, can come in quite handy. There is no bigger time eater out there than using multiple communication tools, leaving little messages here and there and subsequently keeping some of the members of the team in the dark about the progress. Save your team time and hassle trying to figure out what needs to be done next, or where the project is headed. Actually, using a project management tools will give the green light to creativity through efficiency. The trick lies in choosing a tool that works the best for you. Today, there are a plethora of software tools to choose from. Do a little bit of market research, try and experiment to find which project management tool is the right fit for your team.

3. Keep Everybody in the Loop

When it comes to achieving customer satisfaction in terms of design, information is the key. The common ‘less is more’ saying doesn’t work in this case. If you want the project to be done right and on time, give your team all the information you possibly can. This way your designers will not have to waste time verifying dates and demanding details. Most importantly, give all the team members the same information! You will avoid a lot of conflicts and confusion. Put all the requirements, needs, rules and deadlines out there (by using an awesome management tool maybe) and the designer team will love you for it.

4. Allow for a Realistic Timeline

The customer is the king, and we are often drawn to do anything to please him or her. However, setting ridiculous, unrealistic deadlines for creative projects is not a way to go. Do not expect a great log or a mind-blowing website to be created in 24 hours. Simply put, creative teams need time to be creative, to brainstorm, sketch and design, to deliver their best. Rather than forcing your team work in crazy stressful conditions, teach your clients the value of time in creative projects.

5. Feedback is Key

Constructive feedback is key to design masterpieces. For feedback to take place, all members of your team must feel safe to express their opinions. A leader of the project needs to be very clear and open about what they like and dislike about the proposed designs. On the other hand, the team members should feel free to offer their input and feel like they are being listened to. Successful feedback is all about respect and logical justification of your opinions. It’s an excellent way to avoid frustration within the team and keep the spirits and productivity up.

6. Standardize!

Standardization doesn’t sound creativity-friendly, but when imagination needs to be productive, it is the holy grail of effectiveness. Messy interactions, inconsistent work styles and team members working from remote locations can wrap the creative work and project advancement! Standardizing file names and process chains will enable quick and frictionless interactions and creative exploration. Adhering to a particular naming convention and workflow will help every member of the team locate the files easily and complete its part of the job without giving in to the chaos.

7. Bundle Related Tasks

Bundling similar or related tasks together is guaranteed recipe for efficiency, especially so if it comes to critical yet very tedious routine tasks that can disturb creative workflow. Whether it’s taking care of social media or getting down to the recruiting tasks, allocate 20-30 minutes, get it off your mind and tackle all these tasks together. You will be left free to concentrate on the more important design tasks at hand, free of distractions.

8. Let designers maximize high-energy time

Each creative person works differently. Some prefer to work late, well into the night, other are at their best in those fleeting moments of clarity early in the morning. The best creative work rarely happens on the “beloved” nine to five schedule. If you can afford it, let the members of your team profit from their personal high-energy and high-creativity times. Encourage them to take notes of their rhythm, observe how they work and schedule the most challenging tasks when they are at their peak. Although a bit less structured, this approach is likely to improve the quality of work.

9. Use Shortcuts

To be more precise, use graphic software shortcuts. The trick lies in customizing the software workspace to reflect and enable the type of design work your team does on a regular basis. One of the greatest time-savers is creating reusable templates for reoccurring types of projects and building a library of files for most used graphic resources such as icons, fonts or textures.

To wrap things up

When a team works smoothly, it reflects on the final results. Thus, keeping your designer team happy yet structured is imperative to the success of any creative agency. Get yourself a project management tool and apply any of the tips above that caught your attention. Nonetheless, the best way to improve your workflow is to ask your team members about the most upsetting issues and ask for them for ideas!

Rachel McPherson

Rachel is currently working as the vice president of communications at Active Collab. After finishing her master's degree in Communications she pursued a career in the digital industry, most notably in marketing and public relations.

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