3 Ways a PM tool can help Designers be more creative
So I just got into work this morning and I already have a pile of junk to sort through. This “junk” mainly consists of edits and feedback provided on multiple projects by multiple people who think their project is the only thing on my mind. There’s emails, phone messages, and even a printout with hand-written markups left on my seat, which I push to the side to interpret later. All I really want (besides another cup of coffee) is to get into the design ideas for my next Project that I was thinking about during my morning walk.
If I could, I would gladly skip all the administrative stuff (aka busy-work) because, trying to sort through all these elements of my job (that have nothing to do with designing) zap the creativity right out of me!
Does this situation sound familiar? I talk with so many Creatives that have similar experiences, and it was exactly how my days always started in my previous role as a designer. However, finding a good work management tool made my day-to-day work easier and allowed me to focus my efforts to boost my creativity. I just had to get our tool to work FOR me.
Here are some of the things I discovered along the way:
1. Let the tool collect all the project information from the customer BEFORE starting any new project
Any good work management tool should have the ability to collect all the facts and data that define what I have to create. Ideally, before I begin creating concepts, I should have the information needed so I can spend more time on design ideas and nailing the right look and feel for the piece, and avoid spending time trying to understand their request. This doesn’t replace a conversation with the customer, but having them define what they want ahead of time does reduce the chance of misinterpreting their goals of the project. Nothing is worse than creating an awesome design and then having to scrap it to ‘go back to the drawing board’ because we were misaligned from the start.
2. Take advantage of settings and configurations to eliminate a lot of the “noise”
Since I’m always pulled in multiple directions, I need to find ways to keep my focus sharp. One method I found that works for me is turning on (or in some cases, turning off) specific notifications so my email inbox is relevant to my work and not an overwhelming stream of project updates to sort through. This allowed me, and my designer colleagues, to spend more of our precious time doing what we want/need to do, like brainstorming more creative ideas!
3. Leverage my work management tool’s proofing features to help reduce the amount and confusion of back and forth feedback
I became so exhausted by the multiple methods that I would receive feedback (see the first paragraph for a refresher) that I often just threw my hands up and lost all interest in the project I was working on. The “process” drove me from passionate about my work to apathetic very quickly. What I found was that we all had different communication styles and it was causing mistakes, which, in turn, caused frustrations.
Even though we still make mistakes, using proofing features allows for complete transparency to all feedback and simplifies our entire process by creating one source of truth. Being consistent with using our work management’s proofing tool lets me and my team see when everyone involved has provided feedback so we can move forward to reach a final approval, faster.
One final thought:
A work management tool isn’t meant to babysit
Most work management tools will have time tracking capabilities, but don’t worry, these features aren’t meant to babysit you or make sure you’re working. What you produce will speak for itself, regardless of the time spent. To not get discouraged, if time tracking is asked of you, you could ask why management is looking for that level of detail. More often than not it’s used to make sure you’re paid correctly, they’re charging clients for the amount of work correctly, or to make sure you’re not overworked. The more managers can see when team members are spending 60+ hours on a project, the more they’ll be able to allocate resources elsewhere or add another creative person to the team.
I view my PM tool as a place to proactively show my work and progress so I don’t need to spend valuable time updating my manager, and I can instead stay in “design mode” with fewer check-ins and interruptions. Especially for a designer who works remotely, having a central, transparent place for Project progress gives designers the work-life balance needed to create amazing pieces.
Obviously, not all work management tools are created equal, WARNING! PRODUCT MARKETING PLUG HERE! but RoboHead really was made by designers/for designers.
RoboHead is customizable enough to handle the weird scenarios you have to deal with but simple enough to not be too much work to use. Think of a work management tool as your own personal robot, because it can do almost everything, such as:
• Collecting everything you have due
• Sending automatic emails on your behalf
• Moving along a project to the next phase without your push
• Uploading final files for you automatically when they are approved
• Collecting feedback automatically after a project is completed (because how many times do we send a gorgeous piece to the sales team and then ‘crickets’ and we have to hope no news is good news?)
• Showcase your work in one place, in an online portfolio (no need to search for that final PDF you did last quarter).
At RoboHead, we want to hear what your specific frustrations are and unlike other tools, we actually have a graphic designer on the product team and making decisions! We listen to every single comment, complaint, or suggestion sent in by you because we use RoboHead too. To reach out, email us here.
Lee Winchell, PMP, CSPO | RoboHead Product Specialist
Lee has been with Aquent Cloud for 8 years but has been a RoboHead user since 2005! In her free time, she enjoys cooking, boating, skiing, and most importantly spending time with her 2 daughters, husband, and the family dog, Willy.
The RoboHead Team Makes the Difference
Here’s what you can expect from our team when choosing RoboHead as your work management tool:
• A focus on YOUR processes to ensure success right from the start
• A smooth implementation of RoboHead, without the need of IT
• An intuitive interface that requires almost no training
• A seamless integration of automation such as routing approvals and marking Projects complete
• Robust Reporting so that you can measure and track the data that matters most
• A 24/7/365 support team that is eager to help you over any hurdles