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How to get more value out of your creative technology stack

8 min read
Katie Oberthaler

The laundry list of tools and systems that creative teams have to bounce between every day to produce and share their work is ever-growing. Ensuring you’re using all the features within these tools in the most optimal way for your creative process can quickly become overwhelming.

Plus, during lean times, your marketing team or brand may not have the budget to incorporate the latest version of your creative technology or bring new systems into the mix.

However, this can also be the perfect time to take advantage of all the extra “bells and whistles” or new features that may be sitting unused in your creative and design tools.

In this blog post, we will discuss some practical ways design and marketing teams can get even more value out of the creative technology systems they already have in place.

What we'll cover

Leverage the power of micro-automation for your creative assets

If you took a survey of how your creative team spends their minutes each day, a huge bulk of time would likely be spent on creative “busy work”: resizing images, reformatting files to send, uploading assets between programs and people, checking tasks as done or ready for review in various project management systems. 

One of the quickest ways to get more value out of your creative systems is to put these tasks on auto-pilot for your team. Many creative production systems come with built-in automation tools that can be used to automate repetitive tasks such as resizing images, formatting text, and creating templates. By leveraging these automation tools, teams can save time and focus on more strategic tasks.

Here are some quick-win automations that will power up your creative process:

Batch processing

Many software systems offer batch processing capabilities that enable teams to perform repetitive tasks on multiple files simultaneously. For instance, image editing software systems often provide batch processing features that allow users to resize, crop, or watermark a batch of images all at once.

File conversion and sharing

File prep and conversion is a huge time sink for creative teams. File-sharing integrations can be used to store and share files securely and efficiently. For instance, design software systems can integrate with cloud storage platforms like Google Drive or Dropbox, allowing team members to access and share design files from anywhere. For instance, Ziflow enables the ability to copy, convert, and rename any file type–PDF, AI, TIFF, PNG, and more–from its source into a format anyone can use, as well as transcode video and audio files. When your team is handling hundreds of different files, the time savings here quickly adds up.

Creating project folder hierarchies

Automating the creation of standard project folders and folder structures across your project management, file storage, or creative review spaces keeps files organized from the start–and keeps project administration off the plate of your designers. When a new file or version is created, you can automatically create new folders or send it into the right existing hierarchy. This folder creation could also set off several other related micro-actions all linked to your, including email or Slack notifications to team members, updating to-do’s or statuses in your project management application.

Setting up these small automations between your files and systems can lead to hundreds of hours saved for your creative team–a true hidden value waiting to be realized in your creative process. These are just a few examples of dozens of small optimizations your team can make to automate everyday repetitive, time-wasting tasks within your creative tools.

Learn more: Creative Asset Production: 5 Time-Wasting Tasks You Can Automate Today

Build integrations between your creative production systems

Beyond simple file automations and optimizations, there is an entire host of more in-depth integrations available to creative teams today. 

Of course, you got into creative work to create stunning visuals, not get in the weeds with system administration and engineering.

However, most creative production tools offer powerful integrations that can dramatically improve the day-to-day workflow of creative collaboration. Here are some of the top integrations creative teams can create between their tools to :

Integrate review and approval with Creative Cloud

A very fast way to improve is to bring your creative review and approval tasks and comments directly into your creative team’s Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro platforms. This will enable your designers to share work for review and action feedback without ever leaving their design apps, saving time and reducing errors.

Link project management spaces with your creative assets

Project management platforms are amazing for team-wide task management–but they leave a lot to be desired when it comes to collaborating directly on files and assets themselves. These are often two disjointed parts of the creative production process that create confusion between systems. By integrating your project management structures with your creative review feedback, you can create a cross-functional feedback loop between your creative workflow and project management timelines.

Automate the intake of external submissions

Have files coming in from a client or a new project request? Intake forms can enable your designers, customers, and stakeholders to submit proofs directly into your account using a simple link and have an entire project review workflow automatically assigned to that proof. Files can be automatically converted to PDFs for review and put into the proper structures and flows to optimize your entire client/stakeholder collaboration process.

Learn more: How to use the Ziflow plugin for Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects

Invest in training team members on existing tools

When your team is focused on getting work out the door, spending time spent training and experimenting within your existing tools like Adobe Creative Cloud, creative workflow, project management space, or even freemium tools like Canva just isn’t a priority. 

However, carving out time for your team to take training sessions or online tutorials on the latest software updates, features, and best practices can immediately add value to your creative production. 

Training your creative team on existing tools has multiple benefits:

Increased workload efficiency

By providing training on the software systems in place, your designers can learn how to use the tools more efficiently. This can help to reduce the time it takes to create content, allowing the team to work more quickly and effectively.

Improved design quality

Dedicated training also enables your creative team to produce higher quality work. By learning how to apply new features within creative tools to their full potential, designers can create more complex and visually appealing content that better meets the team's needs.

Better brand consistency

By ensuring that all creatives are trained on the same software systems, the team can maintain a consistent level of quality across all of their content. This can help to build brand recognition and establish the team's reputation for producing high-quality work.

Content innovation

Training can also provide designers with new ideas and techniques for using the software systems. This can help to spark creativity and innovation, leading to new and exciting content that sets the team apart from their competitors.

Career development

Providing training opportunities for designers can also help to advance their careers. By improving their skills and knowledge, designers can take on more challenging projects and increase their value to the team and the organization as a whole–a huge bonus and motivator for creative workers working during a recession. 

Overall, investing in additional and continual training for your creatives is a smart move for any creative or marketing team that wants to improve quality without adding additional tools into the mix. 

Lean on your customer success reps

Without proper training and guidance, even the most powerful software can be underutilized, leading to wasted time and resources, as well as missed opportunities for growth and innovation.

We see this often–creative teams have their nose to the grindstone trying to meet deadlines that they don’t have the bandwidth to stay up to date on what’s new in the systems they use or to create their own custom workflows. Plus, it can be overwhelming to know where to start with system optimization and automation. 

That’s where investing in training and customized solution sessions with your existing customer success reps can be incredibly beneficial for creative teams that want to optimize existing tools to best suit their needs.

By working with their software reps to develop customized solutions, creatives can learn about new features, ensure that the software is tailored to their unique creative workflow and team, rather than simply using it in a generic way that may not be as effective. These customizations can set you apart from your competitors. 

In fact, we often see that having customized client solutions and the latest technology in place like creative workflow is often a major competitive advantage for winning and keeping new business for agencies and creative teams.

In times when resources have to go farther, investing in some custom sessions with a knowledge expert in the system your creative team is using can generate new opportunities for account growth and revenue generation. 

Learn more: Innovative creative agency facilitates hundreds of daily content approvals with one platform

Find the hidden value in your current tools

Getting more value out of the creative technology systems you already have in place is critical, especially when investing in new tools is not an option. By learning new skills, customizing workflows, and leveraging knowledge experts, teams can maximize the tools they have in place to innovate within their tech stack. 

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