Creatives are losing patience with digital tools. Every client, outsourcer, and freelancer seems to rely on a different software solution, leaving creatives struggling to retain control over the ever-increasing volume of content. And it is causing problems. How many campaigns have been pulled after the incorrect artwork went to print? How many agencies already struggling to recruit and retain staff is losing talent due to low employee morale as they wrestle with tedious administrative tasks and struggle with version control? How many are also spending thousands of pounds every month on an ever-expanding list of software subscriptions?
Every business needs to work digitally. Yet while project management tools are great at coordinating a dispersed team, they aren’t working for creative tasks. So how can companies achieve end-to-end visibility of creative projects and free up talented individuals to create, not chase admin tasks? Jon Simcox, Managing Director and Founder, Oppolis, explains why providing control in a virtual world will empower creative teams to maximize talent while still meeting tight deadlines to achieve the best possible design outcome.
Creative agencies and digital marketing experts are in demand. From personalization and the ever-important unboxing experience to innovative technologies such as 3D, creative talent is transforming the way businesses engage with customers. Yet achieving the desired level of creative innovation, even meeting client demands, is increasingly tough. A shortage of expertise plus a reliance on multiple outsourced and freelance resources is combined with hybrid working to create an ever more complex, disparate and disrupted creative process. It is unsatisfying for employees, companies, and clients.
The individual tools used to support elements of the creative process are great. Digital tools are fabulous at enabling specific creative tasks and activities – from design to proofing, video to artwork. Project management tools do an excellent job at managing specific administrative tasks. Messaging tools are essential, especially for a dispersed team. But the plethora of tools now in use has led to an administrative and creative nightmare.
There is no visibility of creative task status. No single view of the process – or version. No audit trail or way to track content reviews. And no way to confidently share information with clients or other stakeholders. The more distributed the process becomes – and with the addition of innovative technology, businesses want to explore ever more exciting creative options which are unlikely to be in-house – the more complex, expensive and risky it becomes.
Even the standard task of commissioning a new piece of artwork can result in the use of multiple different tools – none of which is linked to the Project Management tool. The result is a time-consuming and resource-intensive creative process that focuses heavily on administration and management rather than creativity.
With poor version control, errors can slip through – leading to expensive mistakes. The tedium of arduous version control and review processes leads frustrated individuals to accept ‘good enough’ rather than push for perfection, especially under tight time pressure. The result is a compromised creative process that will have an implication for a company’s competitive edge.
With the ever-present pressure on staff retention, this environment is morale sapping. When creative individuals can see friends and colleagues in other organizations freed up from the constraints of technology to be truly creative, the danger is clear.
For an annual project to update packaging or the corporate identity, this convoluted approach is manageable – just. But for any creative business, this process is hugely damaging. This artwork will be used on the packaging, social media, videos, and websites. The entire business – or client’s business – will depend upon the fast creation of consistent, high-quality content.
Clients also demand visibility. They want a say in the entire process. They do not expect to be asked to trawl through old Teams meetings to find the document that was shared. Or to have to repeatedly make the same request for a different color. When the latest in design technology allows agencies to change the look and feel of product shots in 3D in near real-time, it makes no sense to attempt to share such innovation through email or We Transfer. It’s clunky, inefficient, and unprofessional.
Everyone needs to be part of the process, and that means using the same coherent toolset that supports every single step of the creative project. With one tool, project owners can manage the entire content creation exercise and mark every milestone within the project management system. Campaigns can be archived in one place, providing a full audit trail in one location, ensuring any confusion about content sign-off can be immediately reviewed. Rigorous version control eradicates the danger of using incorrect artwork in a campaign. Plus, of course, by consolidating onto one tool, companies can reduce the number of monthly subscriptions for the extensive digital toolset. Critically, scarce, talented creative individuals are freed up to maximize their creative time.
The digital technologies that enabled a virtual creative process served their purpose. They solved an immediate problem and enabled organizations to manage hybrid working, reach out and work with new freelancers, and access talent globally. But these disparate tools are not allowing these virtual teams to work together in a truly effective and creative manner.
By adopting a single tool designed to support every step of any creative process, companies can attract and retain individuals with the promise of achieving their creative best. By eradicating tedious admin tasks and the frustration associated with chasing versions, companies avoid errors and, more critically, enable creative staff to prioritize the activities they love. Plus, at every stage, all stakeholders – including clients – have full visibility of the process, and everyone will feel confident in adding new creative talent and exploring new areas of innovation without any fear of losing control.
The expanding digital creative toolset is no longer a boon; it is a business risk and one that needs to be urgently addressed.