True tales of 3 creative project management problems

As a marketer, I’ve interviewed dozens of customers across many business industries and sizes. Throughout these interviews, I’ve heard 3 recurring themes around creative project management that tend to affect many of our marketing and advertising customers.

1. Creative reviews on multimedia files are managed through inconsistent processes

Before onboarding OpenText Hightail, Fullscreen, a full-service digital agency, used a variety of tools for project management and numerous large file transfer accounts for client-ready files and internal creative reviews. This led to a disjointed process, especially when it came to sending files via client-ready accounts and links. In addition, slow upload times, imprecise feedback, manually recorded timecodes and delayed notifications made internal reviews difficult.

2. Feedback is tracked across disparate tools and held up one person at a time

Hightail customer and full-service agency HZ knew that there was room for improvement in their creative process. “We’d upload PDFs to our internal servers and email a file path to that PDF to the relevant teams for review,” said Stacey DeOrzio, SVP, Client Relations at HZ. “Each person would take turns reviewing it because you could only comment on the PDF one at a time. Other times, we’d print hard copies of the creative, which meant feedback wasn’t captured in one place. Either way, it was a slow, inconsistent process that opened us up to errors.”

3. There’s a looming fear of being minutes away from mistakes going out the door to the client

Hightail customer TPF Sports handles the brand management and merchandising responsibilities for multiple sports and entertainment brands, which requires managing large volumes of product artwork. Prior to Hightail, since the company’s studio in Vietnam was responsible for the creative work, most of the communication between the design team, account managers and clients was done via email. This increased the chance for miscommunication and misinterpretation, and it caused frustration for the creative teams. Additionally, when dealing with production volumes in the thousands, mistakes could be costly. “Our aim at the beginning was to create a regimented process around product approvals. It was basically an indemnity against mistakes, so we were clear about which file was the approved version, and we could have that archived correctly so when the pre-production samples arrived, we could benchmark it off that approved artwork.”

Do these problems sound familiar to you?

If any of these stories sound familiar, just know that you’re not alone. Many, many creative teams in this industry are struggling to streamline project management for creative. It’s challenging based on the nature of our business. We rely on collaboration across teams both within and outside of our own organizations – internal brand teams, creative agencies, freelancers, video production companies, publishers…the list can go on. And those organizations all have their own tech stacks and content policies to contend with. So how does an agency streamline their creative process across so many collaborators? Here are 3 best practices to get started:

1. Consider everyone involved in the production of creative – including the producers, project managers and stakeholders who play a key role in the creative review. Create a list of them and outline their roles and responsibilities.

2. Find the tool that is designed for your unique needs. For example, Hightail is purpose-built to help manage creative work. We’ve put creative files at the center of the conversation for creative reviews, so that reviewers and managers don’t need to rely on text alone to leave feedback. This makes it easier for creative teams to understand change requests and respond to feedback quickly.

3. Take actions to get everyone on board and make sure that your new process works. Some teams start by piloting a new system with select groups before rolling out across the organization. This also helps build internal advocates for your new system.It might not be quite as easy as 1-2-3, but implementing the right tools with the right people and then getting those people to advocate for the new system can get you well on your way down the right path toward embracing a streamlined creative reviews, and away from mistake-prone processes.

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