Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Creativity and Project Management. Better Together.

It’s generally accepted that project management and project management software are essential to high performing teams.  The fact is, 77% of high-performing teams use project management software (link).  For highly creative and collaborative teams, a creative workflow management system is similarly critical to maintain structure and order.

However, for these highly creative teams, there can be greater barrier to adoption and success.  It manifests as an apparent conflict between creative professionals & project managers.  So what’s behind this conflict?

  • Creatives may be bothered by the idea of being managed by project managers, especially early career creatives or the maverick type that comes from a more independent line of work
  • Creatives rightfully claim that they are crafting and shaping something that doesn’t exist yet and is reliant on inspiration
  • And we all know that creatives are really one of a kind!

Is it truly impossible to use project management for creative production teams? Must creative projects zig zag from start to finish?  Do creative projects trudge along listlessly until that moment of divine inspiration?

Of course not!  Just because much of the creative process is organic, doesn’t mean that there aren’t components that need to be managed too.  As a starting point, successful collaborations should aim to meet objectives on time and on budget, just like any other project.  Project managers can see the value in implementing creative project management to manage creative teams while moving projects toward completion.  So how can we get creatives on board?

5 key selling points to get creatives on board.

  1. Better Briefing. Just like most projects, even for creative projects the primary causes of failure are related to changes in organizational priorities, project objectives, and mis-scoping through poor requirements gathering.  Creatives can get frustrated when their project changes mid-stream, or when the first round misses the mark because of poor briefing.  Incorporate better briefing into your project management approach, and that will make a huge difference for creative uptake and performance.
  2. Streamline Asset Management. Creatives live in pain from the sheer volume of files that are living in completely separated environments, that are often difficult to track down and collaborate with, and it can also be annoying when other team members are constantly asking for files.  Take a win by addressing the pain point around project assets (more tips on digital asset management).
  3. Minimize Low Value Tasks. Creatives want to spend their time on creative work.  Give creatives time back by reducing the 6.8 hours per week on average spent on low value business activities that could be offloaded or automated.
  4. Streamlined Feedback. There’s nothing worse than receiving a stream of emails, text messages, and slack notifications about the changes to a concept or design.  Often these communications lack detail and sometimes even conflict with each other.  Get the benefit of collaboration and client feedback through integrated proofing and approvals
  5. Well-Designed Experience. Be sure to go for a visually appealing interface that inspires designers and creatives alike

Now, it’s time to rally the team to a brave new world of project management.   As you get started, you will likely want to give an overview of the approach to project management.  For example, the top project management activities typically revolve around having a portfolio of projects, updated status reporting, project methodology & templates, project / creative approval processes, and ensuring that the team is learning and growing along the journey.

5 tips to manage the change.

  1. Share a vision that empowers the creative team and gives them the authority to have a voice in crucial decisions
  2. Look for leadership from senior designers who recognize that project managers and project management let them focus on what they do best
  3. Align on value-delivery processes which gives structure and creative flexibility
  4. Leverage standups, which is the top agile method employed by organizations (85%)
  5. Set guidelines on digital communications to enable everyone to be on the same page asynchronously and in real-time

If you are looking to take your creative project management to the next level, sharing a buyer’s guide to project management which provides tips on what to look for to match your team’s goals in performance management, workflow, productivity, and collaboration.  Remember, it’s a journey and the creative process can be stressful, so show empathy and prioritize team well-being as you take the next level of creative performance for your team.


David Capece, CEO – David Capece is CEO of CROOW, which was named one of the top 100 startups in the US.  Prior to joining CROOW, David built up and successfully exited the INC 5000 digital agency and video production company Sparxoo which was headquartered in Tampa Bay.  Previously, David has more than 20 years of strategic marketing and brand experience, including leadership at ESPN and Interbrand New York. David holds an MBA in Marketing and Finance from Wharton Business School and a BA from Johns Hopkins University. He has also served as an Adjunct Marketing Professor at the University of Tampa.