You're a creative director. You have too many projects, your staff is already working overtime, and you have no idea how to get it all done quickly and efficiently with your current system. Where do you turn?

Collaborative work management solutions help cut down on the time your team loses attending extra meetings, managing an overwhelming amount of email, and searching aimlessly for the latest attachments and updated creatives. More importantly, an efficient collaboration tool will allow more time for your creatives to BE creative, instead of tracking down project specs or sending emails.

Creative teams are busy, busy folks, whether they're bringing on new clients or juggling endless requests. They don't have time to try new tools just for the effort to fail. 

Before you commit to a work management solution and jump in head-first, read this guide to help you make sure your choice is successfully adopted by your busy creative team. And then go forth and create!

1. Define your processes for using the tool

You know how you do what you do. So as the first adopter and ultimate champion for the tool, take that knowledge and create a set of clearly defined rules for how your team will use the new tool so they know what to expect. Create a document that outlines:

  1. What features you will use — and how. Some tools come with a lot of features, but you may not need them all. Make a list of the features your team will take advantage of, and exactly how they will help your team get work done.
  1. How to organize your work. Your collaboration tool should offer a system for organizing tasks into folders or projects, so your work isn't scattered aimlessly throughout the tool. Decide if your team will organize work by the kind of deliverable(s), requesting client, assigned designer, or all of the above. Whichever works for you.
  1. How to name your work. Setting up a consistent naming convention will make it easy for your employees to understand what they'll get when they open a task. Set up a system to include rules like:
    • Start/end tasks with [Client name]
    • Start tasks with a verb, e.g. "Create" or "Update"
    • Start/end with a time estimate for how long the task will take, e.g. [2hrs]
  1. How to organize your attachments. Align your team around where documents and creative files should be stored to make sure assets don't get lost.Will they be housed in one folder all together? Will they be attached at the folder level, project level, or at the individual task level? Is there a shared drive where all the files are currently stored? After a project has been completed, will final versions of creatives be housed somewhere specific?
  1. Setting up recurrent meetings. If your team has recurrent meetings, set them up in your tool. (Check out this article to learn how to conduct meetings in Wrike). This is not 100% necessary, but doing so will keep all your collaborative work (and meetings should be collaborative) in one cohesive space. 
    • Our suggestion: Create a folder called "Meetings" with subfolders for different types of meetings (if desired). Then, in this folder, create a task with the date and title of your meeting, assign it to attendees, set the date, and make it a recurring task. When these meetings are held, take meeting notes in this task, so everyone has immediate access to the notes, and can add further input as required.

2. Introduce a small core group for testing

Once you have outlined your processes for using the tool, it can't be automatically assumed that you've created the best way for your entire team. Just as you would with your customers on a project, get feedback.

Bring a small core group of early-adopters into your tool, explain your outlined processes, provide trainings on the features, and ask them to start using it immediately to collaborate on a project. Sell them on the benefits of the new tool and processes in order to minimize the risk that they'll revert to their previous style of working.

3. Adjust your processes to improve them

As the collaborative project goes on, ask your team to add to or modify your preliminary processes as they see fit before rolling the tool out to the rest of your team members. If they have suggestions for better ways to use features, name folders, name tasks, etc., incorporate their feedback into the process document.

It is the team that should have final say on how to use their new collaboration tool, as they will be the ones working with it every day.

4. Deploy the tool to the entire team

After you and your small group are confident that you have created a sustainable way to implement and use the collaboration tool, it's time for the big reveal!

Roll out the tool to your entire team in the same way that you rolled it out to your small test group. Share your process documentation, provide trainings for your team, and ask them to start using the tool immediately to collaborate on new projects.

5. Continue adjusting processes as necessary

As always, keep getting feedback. If someone has an idea on how your team can better make use of a feature, consider every idea for the betterment of the team and reaching your end goals. When a process isn't working, create a solution and check in with the team once per month or quarter as you make adjustments. 

If you are using a SaaS collaboration tool, it's likely that the company will release regular updates, improvements, and new features. Always consider if you should implement these new features into your workflow for better team collaboration. Not every feature will suit your team's needs, so only update your processes if you think it will improve the way your team works.

Help your team work better together

Use these 5 steps to make sure your creative team is able to successfully adopt your new collaboration tool, so they can work better and spend more time CREATING instead of maintaining their inboxes.

If you have more advice on what does or doesn't work when rolling out a collaboration tool to a creative team, please add your advice to the comments section below!

In the market for a new collaboration tool? Give Wrike a try for free — all you need is an email address.