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Using Workflow and Document Management to Finish Your Projects

December 14, 2018 | Productivity

It’s that time of year again. Bell-ringers are planted outside your supermarket. Everything is either pumpkin spice or peppermint flavored. We’re all pretending to like Hallmark movies for a month. Yes, the Holiday Season is here.

For creatives, this time of year means more than just holiday parties and Secret Santa office pools, it’s a time to wrap up projects. Sticking to a deadline is always important, but as each year comes to a close, no one wants to leave things unfinished. I’m sure that in the pursuit of sticking to your deadlines, you’ve seen all the popular tips: prioritize your to-do list, split the project up into multiple steps, make yourself accountable to the deadline. These are all fantastic ideas, but allow me to give you some advice you likely don’t hear often enough.

Meeting your deadlines can be as simple as using a project approval software that oversees workflow and document management. Here’s how:

Creating a Workable Workflow

Often, projects can get caught up in the clutter and disorganization of a creative team. It quickly becomes confusing when dealing with multiple projects simultaneously. Who needs to review the proof? Who has already signed-off on a proof? Who has yet to give feedback? A manageable workflow can eliminate these questions.

Setting up a workflow that creative teams will actually stick to and follow is the first step of successful on-time project completion. It’s also secretly the toughest part of workflow and document management. If you’ve already tried, you know that manually setting and applying workflows to projects is sure to be a practice quickly abandoned by a creative team. A project management software can make workflow creation an easy process, though. How? It uses automation to help creatives follow the workflow.

Setting up a workflow in a management system allows you to do two things: decide who specifically will be part of the workflow for a project and at what stage you would like them to participate in the process. Being able to clarify these two things helps creatives set up a kind of timeline for their projects. They can choose the sequential order for those reviewing and leaving feedback for the project, or they can have each approver view the proof all at once and provide their feedback.

Automating Activities

Once you have a workflow and the ball is rolling forward, creatives may be surprised by how easily a project can be derailed by the littlest of things. Typically, its because these small details can quickly snowball into the most time-eating tasks. Chief among them, follow-ups.

Creatives spend more time than they would like following up with approvers to review a document. It takes precious time out of their day, and the longer it takes for approvers to collaborate, the harder it becomes to stick to a deadline.

Workflow and document management software has the ability to introduce automation into the project approval process. With automation, creatives won’t have to manage the people along with the project. Each approver in the workflow can be reminded as often or infrequently as needed for them to promptly contribute to the project.

For creatives, project management software also notifies them when approvers have left feedback and when they have given their approval. Introducing automation into the system keeps projects moving down the pipe at a steady pace, right to their deadlines.

Cementing Communication

Finally, ineffectual collaboration can dramatically slow down a project and affect its ability to be completed by deadline. Vague, inactionable feedback is the biggest culprit and reason for the slowdown. Traditionally, the proofing process requires a great deal of back and forth between approvers and creatives to hash out the exact nature of the critiques and feedback. This is due to an inability to contextualize feedback in a central location. Proofing discussions end up in email inboxes or chats that make it difficult to visualize the issues.

A software that oversees your workflow and document management leads to more prompt and useful communication, however. The right application makes it possible for creatives and approvers to have access to review one central version of the document. This unique collaborating experience allows all annotations, comment threads and mark-ups to exist in one place.

When everyone is on the same page – both figuratively and literally – misunderstandings become much less prevalent. Approvers, who may not always speak the same design language of creatives, can more easily convey their points, and creatives can make the correct revisions the first time. This leads to less versions per project.

A principle feature of the best workflow and document management systems is version control. As versions of documents accumulate, there’s a growing need to be able to quickly and easily switch between them. With version control, creatives can keep all versions grouped together to be available to approvers at any time. With all project documents, feedback, annotations, and approvals kept together and organized, communication will dramatically speed up, and the journey to the deadline will smooth sailing.

A Very Ashore Christmas

With deadlines on the horizon, we want to help your proofs come ashore in time for you to make it home for some much deserved relaxation and family-time. To do this, we are committed to giving you a workflow and document management system that will put some wind in your sails. Ashore is a workflow management software made for creatives by creatives. It will allow you to create and organize workflows, send out automated reminders to keep approvers on the ball and keep tabs on everything for a project. All of your proofs, your edits and your approver feedback are in one easy to access location.

Perhaps this year, you should give yourself a present for once. Give Ashore a try today and leave some of your projects in 2018 where they belong.

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