3 Reasons To Review Your Workflow Automation
Most advertising studio workflows are like dusty attics. They get a little messy as time goes by. New tools come in; people change roles.
All this means even the most tightly run ship accumulates inefficiencies and minor irritations. You get the niggling feeling that one day, you should sit down and get it cleaned up, but the day-to-day hardly affords you a chance to do so.
In a way, the hands-off approach is right: most workflows are supposed to be set-and-forget. If you are worrying about how you’re working all the time, chances are you will get little actual work done.
But at the same time, we know that the challenges today are unlikely to let up:
- The industry is getting more and more competitive
- Workloads are more cyclical: you have weeks where there is hardly any work for the studio, and weeks where the pressure is immense
- Narrower deadlines
- Fewer hands on deck due to workforce consolidation
- Increasingly agile competitors empowered by new tools and technologies
Falling behind isn’t an option.
In such an environment, improving your workflow is just one way to increase your competitiveness. It’s a good idea to pull back from the daily grind every half a year or so, and get a big picture look at just how people are getting things done.
- Are there ways to cut down on wasted time and improve access to information?
- Instead of having to use a few different tools to complete a task, can we have just one solution do the job?
Reason 1: Instant improvements
Workflow reviews are more about a natural process of improvement, rather than forcing massive changes from the top down, or micro-managing how everyone does their job.
In many cases, the front-line staff in the studio will be aware of their daily frustrations, and what can be done to improve the situation. By taking on this feedback, and combining it with your big-picture insight, you can make highly effective changes – many of which will yield almost immediate results: things get done faster, there are less mistakes, less repetitions.
Reason 2: Cascading benefits
The benefits from any improvements are not just short-term gains: they build up over time and can also cascade down the workflow to result in bigger time savings. Five minutes saved on a single job by each Mac Operator can quickly add up to many extra hours throughout the working year.
And if your workflow improvements result in better quality being produced, with less checks needed, and less risk of rejection by the publisher, that can mean hours of extra time freed up in a week across the whole agency.
The result: a studio which can get more done, on the same headcount, budget, and without subjecting staff to overtime.
Reason 3: Write it down
Your studio’s workflow is hard earned knowledge, built up from experience and experimentation. It’s important to keep a record of how things are done, and why they are done that way. So while documentation may not be the most exciting part of your day, it has the potential to save a lot of time later on.
Since workflow reviews involve actually finding out how things are being done in the studio, you can take the opportunity and kill two birds with one stone, by documenting or updating documented work processes at the same time.
These records provide a central point of reference so you can track how working methods have changed with new solutions, or as new trends affect the agency.
It can also be a life-saver when it comes to training up new Mac Operators or managers. Having records of how things are done, and recorded processes for each stage of ad production, can help ensure a smooth transition of roles, and ensure nothing is overlooked during the training process.
Keep those improvements coming!
One last thing. Make sure to track any changes and improvements with actual figures!
If you undertake a workflow review, and end up making some changes, it’s a good idea to have monthly mini follow-up sessions to make sure the changes are “sticking” and to gather information on how effective it is. By having a record of improvements and solid numbers to back you up in terms of the hours and money saved, you can justify investment in future changes and upgrades.