More video! More design! More viral campaigns!

Content is being produced at a faster rate than ever before (more than four million hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every 24 hours), meaning there’s higher competition for the same eyeballs and share of voice. In order to remain competitive, creatives must either create more or more effective content.

Rising expectations and a changing competitive landscape mean creative teams are feeling the pressure to produce not only quantity but also quality. Yet few creatives feel confident their team is equipped to handle these challenges.

Growing pains like inefficient processes and poor cross-team communication mean people are spending more time understanding project scope and less time creating, ultimately leading to inadequate performance and project delays.

What does this mean for traditional creative team structures and processes? How does this affect their ability to produce high-level creative work? And what solutions exist to help them thrive in this new era?

We surveyed more than 1,500 creative managers and individual contributors, both agency and in-house, to better understand the current state of creative teams and investigate their key challenges.

Challenges vary for agency and in-house creatives

Collaboration is one of the biggest challenges in producing creative work. However, agency creatives and in-house creative teams find different aspects of cross-team collaboration more challenging than others, according to our survey.

Vague creative briefs pose a challenge for agencies

Vague creative briefs are agencies’ number one challenge when working with others. While this is also an issue for in-house creatives, it’s much less significant. This is likely because agency creatives aren’t able to easily clarify confusing instructions or missing details with colleagues a cubicle away.

Percentage of respondents who say "Not enough detail in creative briefs" is the biggest challenge:

Frequently changing project requirements plague agencies

Agencies also find frequently changing requirements a far greater challenge than their in-house counterparts. Vague creative briefs may be partially to blame here. A thorough, well-thought-out creative brief submitted at the beginning of a project prevents scope and mission creep.

Percentage of respondents who say "Frequently changing requirements" is the biggest challenge:

In-house teams struggle to find their place in the company

More companies are bringing creative teams in-house, and the Creative Design Officer (CDO) role is becoming more common across organizations as design grows increasingly critical to user experience. Despite more creatives securing a seat at the table, in-house teams are still finding their place among the larger organization.

In-house teams feel their biggest challenge is colleagues seeing them as service providers rather than business partners. As contractors, agency creatives expect and have no problem with this perspective.

Percentage of respondents who say "Other departments seeing us as a service provider, not as a business partner" is the biggest challenge:

Delays are a major problem for nearly all creative teams

Increased demand for campaigns and content means a need for more streamlined production. However, bottlenecks and missed handoffs are common and wreak havoc on delivery dates. More than 90% of creatives admit to having project delays, while 44% of respondents say half or more of their projects are delayed.

Q: How often are your projects delayed?

Inefficient review/approval processes are the leading cause of delays

Project delays are often caused by unforeseen events, but some stumbling blocks are more predictable and preventable than others. While lagging reviews and approvals are the leading cause of delays, according to our survey, only 22% of creatives say they have a consistent process to handle reviews and approvals.

Here are the top reasons for project delays, according to respondents:

  1. Reviews/approvals weren’t completed on time (40%)
  2. Unclear expectations from supervisors/management (15%)
  3. Unclear expectations from clients (11%)
  4. Miscommunication from supervisors/management (11%)
  5. Dependent tasks from other departments were not finished on time (9%)
  6. Miscommunication from other departments (9%)
  7. Last minute change to requirements (6%)

Automation provides a potential solution for overwhelmed creatives

In an effort to manage day-to-day operations and processes more efficiently, some creatives are starting to automate tasks to ease their workload. However, only 45% of creatives use automation for assistance with their day-to-day tasks. Adopting automation tools for common pain points, such as review and approval workflows, or to manage ad-hoc requests could provide some relief for creative teams struggling to manage these processes effectively.

Here are the tasks most commonly automated by creatives, in order of popularity:

  1. Client communications
  2. Team communications
  3. Progress assessment/reporting
  4. Other reporting
  5. Scheduling/assigning
  6. Collaboration

Creative teams are turning to technology for solutions

Although creatives face major challenges, ranging from inefficient processes to understanding their place in the larger organization, creatives are overall positive about their work environment. Those challenges may decrease as they continue to embrace technology and implement automation tools.

Collaborative work management tools not only ensure creative briefs have the exact details your team needs, guarantee handoffs happen properly, and turn reviews and approvals into a breeze, but they also integrate with the tools you love, like Adobe Creative Suite.

To learn more about the state of creative teams and read the full report, click here or fill out the form below. And to learn more about how Wrike’s Collaborative Work Management solution can benefit your creative team, register for a free 14-day trial!