6 Signs You Need to Change Your Team’s Workflow Processes

1 March, 2019

The phrase "nothing ever stays the same" is true in every part of life, including your creative business. Many factors are responsible for a business evolving.

Examples of these changes include:

  • business growth,
  • change in management, and
  • advancement in technology.

A business must evolve in order to stay competitive in its respective industry.

Given we speak to our customers every day about their workflow challenges, we've learnt that many creative businesses find processes frustrating and painful to implement. However, there is also an understanding that to deliver work on time - and of course, get paid as quickly as possible - they are completely necessary.

Their second challenge is that once they've developed and documented a process, they tend to leave it alone! But what worked for a business five or even just one year ago, may not be the best process now!

So, in this post, we're going to uncover the six signs that may help you identify that your business needs to make a change to its creative workflow process.

1. Disgruntled employees

This may be one of the earliest signs that there is an issue with the creative workflow process. Employees tend to get aggravated when a process isn't working as efficiently as they feel it should. It can lead to frustration, loss of productivity, low morale, and a high employee turnover rate.

A great way to catch wind of this sooner rather than later is to communicate regularly with your staff. Those in the trenches will understand best what is working, what is not, and be able to contribute great ideas for improvement. Make yourself available so that your staff feels comfortable sharing any concerns they may have.

Our recommendation: As part of your WIP meetings, add an item on the agenda (perhaps just once a month) that give your staff the opportunity to raise issues in processes. Then make tweaks to the processes as quickly as possible and communicate changes company wide.

2. Substantial technology upgrades

Technology is advancing at a faster rate than most people and companies can keep up with - we get it! If your company has recently experienced either a substantial upgrade in software or the addition of new devices, it is a good idea to analyze your creative workflow process as it relates to the use of these technologies.

Failure to do so can lead to an outdated process combined with new equipment or software that is redundant because the process does not allow for the best use of the new technology in place.

Our recommendation: As you introduce new hardware and software into your business, don't forget to update your Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and workflow processes as a result.

3. Change in services offered

If your company is offering clients new services or has undergone a shift in focus when it comes to its service offering, there is a good chance your creative workflow process will need to undergo changes as well.

Different services (even just the smallest of tweaks to an offering) can mean anything from a change in the number of approvals needed from start to finish to more or less time being spent by different roles.

Our recommendation: As you add or change services, consider the implications to the current SOPs and the workflow processes. Decide if people will need to be trained in the changes and if new technology is also required to help deliver this.

4. Certain roles or departments are overloaded

It is certainly important to look at how the process is running as a whole, but you should also look at the individual people and departments of your company.

For instance, you may look at your design team and see that work is coming in and leaving the department efficiently. However, when you look at your review department, you find they are extremely bogged down.

This lets you know this is an area that needs some attention and modification within the creative workflow process.

Our recommendation: Identity departments or people who seem to be stressed or express frustrations in the way the process is working. You may find that you need to divide the responsibility and workload more evenly throughout the departments.

5. Communication difficulties

When you are working with many people across several departments, communication issues are bound to arise from time to time. Chronic communication issues that result in missed deadlines, delays, and substantial loss of time is a sign there is a breakdown in the creative workflow process.

Talk with your employees to gain insight as to why these miscommunications keep occurring. It could be a lack of understanding as to how the process is supposed to flow brought about because certain aspects of the process are not working due to an outdated SOP.

Our recommendation: It doesn’t matter if you use Slack, email, phone or in-person meetings. Have a think about who needs to know what during the delivery of project. Perhaps notes be recorded on project management software like Trello or Asana so that people can help themselves to answers. Or could client feedback run through a system like Invision or (shameless plug) Digital Pigeon?

6. Significant drop in production output

Another sign that your creative workflow process needs to be reworked is the production output of your business has declined and delivery seems to be forever stuck in an endless cycle of reviews, tweaks, and approvals. This tells you for certain there is a breakdown in the process. You need to figure out why project delivery is not getting the final approval in an efficient amount of time.

Our recommendation: In next month’s blog post, we will cover the benefits of writing out your processes from start to finish. One of the key benefits is to counter a significant drop in production output.

The costs of an inefficient creative workflow process

The bottom line is that an inefficient, outdated creative workflow process can cost your business dearly.

You can spend all the money in the world on people and technology, but if an SOP is not in place that allows the best use of these resources - they will hurt your bottom line.

Employee retention will be difficult and those who do stay will likely not give their job one hundred percent. Low morale leads to poor productivity in the workplace which obviously negatively affects profit. There is the cost of having to constantly train new employees as a result of turnover.

Main take-away: Conduct routine review of SOPs and communicate regularly

It is good practice to routinely review the SOPs in place for your business, especially after any big changes have been made to technology, staff or business model.

Break down each part of the process, analyse it fully, and update it as necessary. After these changes have been made do not just assume all is well and push it to the side for the next year. Test out the changes to make sure they actually work as intended. You may find certain changes look great on paper, but do not work in reality and require additional changes.

If you can isolate changes with a test group - do so.

But once you're happy with how things are working, don’t forget to tell everyone about the changes!

Take the time to get it right!

The creative workflow process is the skeletal structure of your business. Take the time to update and change your creative workflow process as often as it is needed. Watch for these six signs that your business is in need of a change.

Once you have the process working as it should you will see happier employees, an increase in production approval, and an increase to your bottom line.

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