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The Creative Process: Joshua Zerkel on Process Development

Published 4 January, 2021
Marquis Murray
Written by Marquis Murray

It can be tough to establish processes within your agency while also keeping everyone happy.


Team leads and project managers want structure. Without stable processes in place, projects can be finished in a rush of confusion and adrenaline. 


Meanwhile, creatives tend to resist structured workflows and systems. They worry it may hamper their creative process and take up unnecessary time. 


It turns out that establishing processes and workflows in your creative agency will not only prevent chaos but save everyone a lot of time. North American businesses waste up to 20-23 hours each week by failing to create, implement, and follow operational procedures.


Imagine what you and your team could accomplish if you could get even a fraction of those hours back! So how do you do it? This is a question I asked Joshua Zerkel, Head of Global Community for Asana, on a recent episode of “In Systems We Trust”. 


The trick is to develop processes that are structured enough to be efficient but flexible enough to fit the different projects your agency takes on and the different work styles of your colleagues. If you want to increase your agency's productivity and profitability without compromising its creative output or employee happiness, listen to the episode today! 


We’ve pulled out some of the key points from our conversation, and created a list of “best practices” for you to follow. Our top 5 are listed below!



#1 Make it clear who does what

No matter how organized you are or how many checklists you have, if roles and responsibilities aren't clearly defined, things will get messy. People will feel disconnected, work will fall through the cracks, and clients will be unhappy. 


And unhappy clients can threaten the long-term profitability and overall survival of your business.


Avoid all of this by using a project management platform. With services like Asana, you can assign and track projects all in one place. 


These tools are incredibly valuable in our current environment, with everyone working remotely. You may be managing a team of ten different people spread out across different time zones, but with a project management platform, you can keep track of everything from one place.


#2 Optimize Client Onboarding

Signing a new client is an exciting but complex process. 


How you onboard your new customers set the tone for your ongoing relationship with them. It also reduces churn and builds valuable brand loyalty. 


To offer your clients a consistent, seamless onboarding process, your agency needs to establish Standard Operating Procedures. Having these procedures in place sets both you and the client up for success and will keep things running smoothly in that customer relationship going forward.


#3 Diagram your workflow

It is possible to achieve a perfect workflow without putting your agency through a radical overhaul. 


Start by analyzing your existing workflow and finding the best ways to optimize it. Take it one step at a time. 


When you document all of your agency's tasks, everyone has a clear idea of what they're doing and what their priorities are. 


Look for places where there's a crossover between two teams. Is this a redundancy that needs to be fixed, or is it a potential opportunity for collaboration? 

#4 Integrate all of your tools into one workflow

Once your team is happily using your project management software and you've ironed out the kinks in your process, make your workflow extra efficient by bringing all the tools you use together.


Whether you need them for specialized tasks or to fit in with how your clients like to work, your team will need to use a few other tools now and then. 


See what integrations are available with your project management platform. Asana links directly with Google Cloud and teamwork offers a variety of integrations. If all else fails, there's always Zapier


These integrations not only make it easier to work from one place, but they also save you from breaking your concentration by switching apps every few minutes. 


#5 The pyramid of clarity

Though it may sound like something from a knock-off Indiana Jones movie, a pyramid of clarity can have enormous benefits for your agency. 


A pyramid of clarity is when you have a clear alignment from the very top of the pyramid. This means your agency's mission and overall vision to your goals and initiatives down to your individual tasks.


This means everyone knows not only what they're working on, but how it ladders up in the company and plays into the overall goals you're trying to achieve. 


It allows people to understand why they're there. It stops them from asking things like, "Why am I working on this thing?" and, "Why does it matter?"


A lot of other companies understand systems and processes and recognize their value. But they see them as something aspirational that other companies have. They don't think they could implement these systems in their agencies because they're too busy doing the day-to-day work. 


And to them, we say taking the time to develop these processes is an investment in scale. It's an investment in your people so they can feel more successful. It's an investment in organization and sanity. 


Even on the best of days at work, things can feel out of control. But workflow process development is something you can get under control. You can name how you do your work, document how it gets done, and make it easier for your people to understand what to do. They will have the tools they need to refer back to documentation and methodologies to help streamline who does what and when. 


If you're interested in how your agency can implement systems and processes, achieve team alignment, and implement project management platforms, check out “In Systems We Trust”! It’s available on all podcast platforms and has tons of great advice, recommendations, and tips. 


After you’ve given our latest episode a listen, reach out to the team at Ditto! We can help create clarity throughout your organization by building work management systems to scale your business profitably. 


Contact us today! We look forward to meeting you. 

Topics: Systems and Processes Podcast