Blog by JourneyGroup

On Time, On Budget: Lessons Learned for Managing the Creative Process

If you ask a handful of artists to describe their creative process, you'll likely hear many different answers for how each one completes her work. One might dive quickly into experimenting with random ideas while another might need long stretches of alone time or distraction to finally land on that perfect moment of inspiration.

But artists aren't the only ones that bring their unique style to the creative process. In my role as account manager, I'm tasked with guiding the various personalities of all stakeholders involved with a project to ensure that the work is completed on time and on budget with excellence. As you work to rally the various players involved in your own internal projects, here are a few routines that may be helpful for getting the job done:

1.  Follow up, follow up

I frequently visit my Sent Mail folder to locate emails that have gone unanswered. While there is an art to following up without nagging, if it’s presented in the right way, a follow-up email or call can be a great reminder and tool to get a project back on track.

2. Schedule Standing Meetings 
A method I’ve used with some of my projects is keeping a running list of questions I need answered. The list then becomes the agenda for a standing meeting scheduled for the same time each week. This allows the team to focus in and leave the other distractions behind. Especially when there are multiple projects with one account, this weekly check-in is a good time to gather together and catch up.

3. Assign Action Steps
Creating actionable items from meeting notes is key to avoiding ambiguity. I often find myself in standing client meetings or internal meetings that are hours long and involve numerous sidebar conversations. I take comprehensive notes, but then break them down into actionable items and inform specific team members of their next steps. This helps the creative team focus on the task at hand while leaving them out of the nitty-gritty client details. 

4. Document Brainstorm Session
At the beginning of each fiscal year, we sit down with the creative team and brainstorm ideas that may benefit our clients. Although not every idea on the list is pursued, this document is a good thing to save and keep on hand. There may be a concept that is originally rejected but that later gains traction as a possible creative solution.

5. Defend Performance
Whether it's in a monthly report, in an email or over the phone, we routinely share numbers as a team to gauge our success. I've found it helpful to keep this information at the ready for clients who need to provide it to their own colleagues. Having a clear understanding of the results enables us to validate our creative process and gain even more efficiency for future projects.