How to Optimize Your Workflow : Time is Money  by@royselbach

How to Optimize Your Workflow : Time is Money

As a project manager, UI/UX designer, web designer, or developer it’s likely you are constantly building. One of the major obstacles every engineer needs to overcome is how to meet deadlines while working with a limited amount of resources, especially for design. As a creative design agency, we decided to go back to the drawing table and sketch out a workflow process that is worth considering for the sake of efficiency. We came up with the below method that can be applied to any type of business. 1) Optimize your workflow. 2) Outsource, delegate or distribute work. 3) Quality Assurance. 4) Focus on output and learn from the results. Specifically for our use case steps 3 and 4 are different, however worth considering as well. 1) Optimize your creative workflow. 2) Decentralize your team. 3) Always maintain brand consistency. 4) Be data-driven and focus on generating results.
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Introduction


As a project manager, UI/UX designer, web designer, or developer it’s likely you are constantly building.


One of the major obstacles every engineer needs to overcome is how to meet deadlines while working with a limited amount of resources, especially for design.


As a creative design agency, we decided to go back to the drawing table and sketch out a workflow process that is worth considering for the sake of efficiency.


We came up with the below method that can be applied to any type of business.


1) Optimize your workflow.

2) Outsource, delegate or distribute work.

3) Quality Assurance.

4) Focus on output and learn from the results.


Specifically for our use case steps 3 and 4 are different, however worth considering as well.


1) Optimize your creative workflow.

2) Decentralize your team.

3) Always maintain brand consistency.

4) Be data-driven and focus on generating results.


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Step 1: Optimize Your Yorkflow/ Optimize Your Creative Workflow

Workflow for our creative business

Workflow for our creative business

The first and most important step is to look at HOW your whole process flows.


In our case, we wrote down everything about our creative workflows and organizational structure onto a blank sheet of paper.


Everything from briefing, communication, feedback and delivery was mapped out. We quickly noticed that, as a service provider, it was difficult to always follow the same ‘happy workflow’. Ultimately, the client's needs and design deliverables always had some level of variation.


We tackled this by making best & worst (extreme) case scenarios. In this way, we ensured that there was a suitable margin for unexpected errors. From this, it was now possible to reliably map out the whole user journey, taking into account all the different routes that could materialize.


After drawing out our rough workflow, we put it to the test using Trello. This was done even before building the finished product. We gathered information from running multiple multivariate A/B tests and then tweaked the process wherever it made sense.


A few interesting outputs came to light after testing. It became clear that the following measurements were the most important ones. In fact, they would later become our KPIs because they measured the success of our final product, the actual delivered design:


  • Average turnaround time.

  • Client satisfaction Time between client briefing and project initiation AKA time to mobilize resources.

  • Design quality output.

  • Number of designers required per project.


Armed with this important information, we went back to our workflow overview and finalized the complete set-up.


The first step requires attention to detail.


It’s also important to know who the key stakeholders are, their pain points and, most importantly, the actionable steps to solve their issues.


Step 2: Outsource, Delegate or Distribute work - Decentralize Your Team

Delegating and outsourcing of creative work

Delegating and outsourcing of creative work

For the next phase, we focused on HOW to deliver our final product without getting bogged down with untangling operational hassles.


Although we had a strong team, it was logical to have a partner who could reliably offer support to scale our business growth.


Since we pivoted into a graphic design service from a digital agency, we could leverage those existing resources for support. It was also a natural fit for the skillset and experience of our designers.


If you haven’t yet established valuable partnerships, then make sure you start defining qualification metrics and enquiring for suitable partners who can meet those expectations.


Plan as many meetings as possible within 2 weeks, before shortlisting the top 5 who can best support your company's growth.


For us, it was important to choose partners that could take over multiple projects immediately. Therefore, we wouldn’t have to waste time onboarding and finding a comfortable rhythm.

Described above is the most agile way to get started for any kind of product you’d like to launch.


Step 3: Quality Check - Maintain Brand Consistency

Quality assurance check for creative workflow

Quality assurance check for creative workflow

After creating the product, the next step is about quality assurance.


This is particularly important if you have a mass-scale production process with external partners or remote-working teams.


Having a mechanism in place to check the quality of your end product before launch helps minimize future problems.


In our case, we focused on pinpointing the most important aspects of the subjective design output. This would help optimize alignment with the needs of the customer. It boiled down to the following points:


  1. Create a brand style guide - encourage the client to provide a complete brand style guide. In cases where they don’t have a guide, we can assist with creating one.


  2. Create brand values & overview of key pillars - deep dive into the brand to understand what the client envisions. Questions such as, ‘who is your target audience?’, ‘what are the core products you are offering?’, ‘what is the feeling you want to establish with your target audience?’ and ‘what is the end goal of your branding campaigns’ are important ones to understand the key pillars of the design request.


  3. Provide a complete briefing - standardize the briefing process to make it intuitive, for both the client and designers


A great exercise is to write down WHAT you need in order to deliver the best possible result. Afterwards, you can easily configure them into the quality control process.


Step 4: Focus on Output and Learn from the Results - Be Data-Driven and Generate Results

Be data-driven, learn & adapt

Be data-driven, learn & adapt

The end goal for every business is to generate results.


To this end, becoming data-driven is key to capturing high-value leads and increasing sales. This brings us to the last stage of the whole process. WHY do certain things work better than others?


We always measure as much quantifiable data as we can. Furthermore, we consistently do this with multiple variations of workflows and marketing campaigns. This allows us to make better decisions based on data, and not on subjective emotions or wild guesses.


Furthermore, we can create extensive reports grounded in data, and use these learnings to improve our processes.


From the moment you start building new workflows and systems, you need to be constantly optimizing.


The biggest mistake you can make is to assume that everything should remain exactly how it is. There are numerous variables to weigh and consider. Only through adapting and creating better practices, you can be sure that you are always on top of your game.



So learn fast, adapt even faster.


Conclusion


Creating efficient and scalable workflows for your business can seem like a complicated task.


Indeed, it demands a lot of work on your part, but the end results are worthwhile! You have now produced an optimized workflow that constantly iterates to a better version, and guarantees the best possible final output.


It’s worked out great for us. We even built a whole platform-based service out of it. In a short period of time, we onboarded over 100+ clients from all around the world. They’re amazed at what we’ve built from bootstrapping and maximizing the utility of the resources we had available.


If you want to skip the hassle of building, testing and re-building your workflow for creative activities, then be sure to check out our website: DotYeti.com - Unlimited Graphic Design.


We even made an FREE E-book relevant to this topic. Make sure to check it out.



👋 I’m Roy Selbach, a digital entrepreneur. I’ve worked for a variety of large-scale companies and consulted 100+ start-ups. I have done everything from design and dev to marketing and sales. Currently working on DotYeti.com - Unlimited Graphic Design


Note: This article is written with passion and intends to share knowledge with the world. Want to stay on top of tech and innovations? Connect with me on ↗️ LinkedIn :)‍

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