What is Process and Why Do We Need It?
Process can be defined as a set of defined activities that are performed in a specific sequence to produce a desired outcome. Said another way, it’s a roadmap used to usher a project from initiation to delivery, usually by breaking down each step into actionable tasks and making sure these steps are completed at the right time and in the right order.
Process is an important part of project management because:
The project management process usually follows the following structure:
Planning > Executing > Monitoring and Controlling > Closing
We’ll get into the weeds on these areas, including tools you can develop, in the subsequent pages in this Process section. For now, let’s dig in on how process can affect your world.
Everyone in your org should know the process for requesting, developing and delivering creative and they should also understand how to start this journey. If documentation around this process doesn’t exist, it should (hint: create it).
Detailing out the process is a great way to provide a basic project structure that will give your stakeholders a general guideline for workflows as well as a minimum turnaround time. Of course, workflow and timing will be customized for each project depending on the scope, but your document should provide enough detail for your stakeholders to understand that a certain level of effort and planning will be required on their part.
By standardizing project information and the flow of that information, you’ve created documentation of the ask that can be referenced at any time, and (hopefully) a workflow that requires a review of the goals and direction of the project that everyone has approved before work begins. Creatives can then work with the confidence that stakeholders are aligned and the project is deemed necessary from a business perspective.
Process also creates a step-by-step breakdown of tasks required to complete the project, usually along with milestones/dates communicates to the creatives what work is expected when, and ensures there is enough time allotted to complete each task.
Lastly, process ensures that creatives are not getting pinged constantly, thus allowing them to focus on their work instead of fielding requests all day.
Process provides a roadmap that guides the project from initiation to completion, ensuring that necessary steps are taken (such as reviews and approvals) in the right order and at the right time.
This includes standardizing documents, including the ever-important Creative Brief. Briefs help ensure projects’ objectives are documented and everyone can align to work toward the same goals.
Lastly, having a process helps you to look for any blockers to getting the project completed. For example, standardizing workflows will immediate inform you if a project timeline hasn’t considered adequate review time (stakeholders, external partners, or legal counsel) – not properly planning for all phases and tasks upfront could delay the project’s delivery.
Process provides a basis for continuous improvement by limiting the variables by which you’re evaluating effectiveness. Said another way, keeping the general process the same allows you to evaluate the effectiveness of the approach and identify areas for improvement. You’ll create efficiencies and also identify inefficiencies as you continue to put projects through the process. Keep the good; make it better. Get rid of the bad; try something else.
When you join a team, don’t be afraid to make adjustments, even big ones. You’ll have a fresh, outsider's perspective. If you see that part of the process or a tool isn’t working, change it. It might take some convincing and effort, but process improvement never ends. It’s constantly a work in progress.
Worth the Effort
There’s no way around it; only through it. If you put in the work to set a good process in place, it’ll pay off down the line. I think it’s realistic to plan to take a calendar year to work out all the kinks, figure out how your company works, where to make changes, where to find your efficiencies, and understand business cycles. Once you get into a rhythm, you should be able to ease off the gas a bit and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
A set process allows you to have a department standard that you can point back to, increasing adoption. And having a system in place will ensure you’re centralizing your information and not working in the wild west.
What are creative briefs?
Learn why these will make or break
The most critical stage of a project and where a creative project manager is needed most. Get the deets.
Defining roles and responsibilities so you can ensure clarity, coordination, and accountability.