No matter how challenging creative work can be, clients expect their work to be delivered on time. The quality of the work is irrelevant if your team consistently misses their deadlines. So, how can you ensure that deadlines are met, tasks are completed, and projects keep moving forward on the right track?
Heycollab has identified a handful of ways to set and manage deadlines in your creative agency. Incorporating these will help you be as productive and efficient as possible for your clients.
Identify key personnel
The first step in setting up and managing deadlines in a creative agency is to identify the individuals who’ll be involved in the project. Far too often, responsibilities are assigned using generic descriptions like ‘copywriters’ or ‘graphic designers.’ This creates confusion and delays the process.
You should specifically assign duties to individuals making sure that their expertise matches the project requirements. Heycollab allows you to give pre-designed roles to team members and managers. But before doing that, it’s also necessary to understand their current workload.
Set multiple deadlines
When you get a brief from a client, they would expect the work to be shared by a particular deadline. Most creative agencies work on that single deadline, which can create problems later. That’s because it doesn’t take into account the internal processes in a creative agency.
The solution is to set deadlines for each stage of the process. There should be an internal deadline for:
- Internal briefing
- Creative development
- Internal review
- Incorporating feedback
- Client presentation
With these multiple internal deadlines, team members will know when they have to finish their work and when others have to finish theirs. With Heycollab, you can set calendar date and time. This helps teams keep their projects on track and hit their specific deadlines.
Every project would have an important deliverable and several associated targets. If everything’s equally important, remember that nothing will be important. That’s why agency leaders should make sure that key resources are assigned to the most important tasks of the project with adequate time for preparation, development, review, and iterations.
While dividing the task into manageable units, it’s also important not to lose sight of the big picture. When reviewing, team leaders should find out if all tasks are hitting their deadlines and whether they have enough resources.
Creative agencies that regularly set and successfully manage deadlines all have one thing in common; They communicate efficiently to their team members. Each individual would know what they have to accomplish, the resources at their disposal, the deadline they have to meet, and the managers they need approval from.
The traditional approach is to send emails. This creates needless back and forth and unnecessarily long email threads. A smarter way is to use software designed for collaboration and communication like Heycollab. Now you can easily organize projects in customized workspaces and give access to team members.
Don’t overpromise and underdeliver
Everyone knows that creative agencies operate in a highly competitive environment where client-agency relationships are getting shorter and margins are always under pressure. This forces some agencies to overpromise when they pitch their services. In their eagerness, they might forget their existing workload or resources.
Agency managers should know how long it takes their teams to complete projects. If a logo takes a day to be designed, rushing the process will affect the quality. Secondly, always keep a buffer in your timeframe. Even if the job would only take three days, plan for four days. Finally, undertake projects only if you have team members with domain expertise.
Even with the best of practices, you might miss a deadline once in a while. When it happens, it’s important to analyze what went wrong and how you can prevent it from happening. To learn from your mistakes, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did you have enough resources?
- What was the key reason for the delay?
- Were those internal or external factors?
- Does it regularly happen on such projects?
- Is it happening more with a specific client?
- Did the agency understand the client’s brief?
- Was the brief communicated well to team members?
- Did you allocate enough time for the project?
- What measures can you take to avoid this situation?
Setting and managing deadlines can be one of the biggest challenges in a creative agency. Creative work cannot be easily scheduled like projects in other professions because it’s a highly subjective process. But to effectively run a creative agency, you need to set and manage deadlines because that has a direct impact on client relationships and business growth. Importantly, you need to rigorously learn from your processes.