Nothing takes the spark out of freshly completed creative work like a long and unproductive review and approval process. True, most creative and marketing professionals will admit dreading delivering or receiving feedback—but this is about more than just disliking criticism.
For many in-house agencies, review and approval—and everything that happens in between—is their most significant workflow challenge, often negatively impacting their entire creative production process.
In fact, a recent survey of more than 800 in-house professionals conducted by the Creative Group found that respondents consistently listed approval processes as one of the top 5 challenges to effective collaboration in the workplace. And as any industry professional will tell you, without collaboration, consistently brilliant creative output isn’t possible.
The good news? If your team’s creative spark is feeling stifled by an unproductive review and approval process, you are not alone: The 2014 In-House Agency Report found that less than 32% of in-house agencies rate their existing workflow system and processes as effective and efficient.
But first, it’s important to identify where your specific pain points are occurring. Ask yourself: How is review and approval throwing a wrench in your workflow?
You have complete feedback fatigue.
Is there anything worse than putting your heart and soul in to a weeks-long project, only to get bogged down by less-than-stellar feedback? Whether it’s overly vague, hard to understand, or just plain in-actionable, unproductive feedback can lead to communication strain, deteriorated client relationships, and most significantly, a decline in production quality. How feedback is captured is just as important to a thriving creative production process. When it’s done efficiently, your team can quickly intake their revision requests and action items and transform them in to improvements. If feedback fatigue sounds like something you have, don’t panic: You’re in good company! A 2015 Visually report found that less than 30% of marketers do a good job of giving feedback that’s timely or consistent, and only 35% give actionable feedback well. Meanwhile, the 2014 IHAF In-House Agency Report Card found only 30% of internal agencies’ abilities to understand feedback, incorporate, and meet expectations. But like many other in-house agencies, you too can find a solution.
You have major proof-routing pangs.
More and more in-house creative teams challenged with multiple rounds of review, multiple reviewers, and multiple versions of content—all for a single project. That translates to more than just a headache: Manual, complicated proof routing can lead to confusing communication and misinterpreted directives, not to mention delays in the production process due to the potential for bottlenecks at multiple different stages. In a 2015 Harvard Business Review article on why many traditional agencies are moving in-house, an executive of a major ad agency described his firm like this:
“We have too many people and too many approvals to be able to react and work effectively in a real-time world.”
What seemed like an agency problem just a few years ago is increasingly becoming something in-house teams are faced with as well—which is why many are exploring how to improve, and what tools can help.
You have serious wasted-time woes.
Feedback fatigue plus proof-routing pangs add up to a sum total of serious wasted time. And since wasted time often leads to a rushed, overworked creative team, missed deadlines, and an overall decline in creative quality, it’s one of the key components of reported workflow pain. Wasted time can be attributed to a number of process inefficiencies. If your team doesn’t have a solid review and approval system, you may find yourself identifying with the average U.S. worker, who spends about 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings, according to a 2016 Atlassian Study. Meanwhile, if you regularly receive confusing or in-actionable feedback, you probably find yourself in more rounds of review to address misunderstandings. And if each piece of creative requires multiple team members’ signoffs and multiple rounds of revision, bottlenecks can easily occur and derail timelines.
Worried there might be in a wrench in your workflow? Check out more of our tips, tricks, and best practices, and get hands-on with our Sample Proof. Your creative production process will be running like a well-oiled machine in no time!
Like what you read? Check out the next post in our Wrenches in Your Workflow series!
Ellie Baldini is the Content Marketing Manager at inMotionNow. Having been a member of several creative teams herself, Ellie knows the challenges of inefficient workflows. Ellie draws on her experience to connect creatives and marketers with the benefits of inMotion, so more teams can get back to doing the work they love.