Finding Nirvana

Finding the right workflow tool is a popular pursuit with in-house agencies. It’s the one tool we hope will bring nirvana to our everyday work. (Ah, if only…) While workflow tools can help tremendously, they also pose real challenges—especially when you’re trying to switch from one to another without missing a beat.

We all have different requirements for the tools and solutions we choose: management wants data, traffic wants efficiency, designers want ease of use, and clients want their jobs to get done fast. Given all that, here are five things to consider when contemplating a switch in workflow tools:

1. What works and what doesn’t? The first and most important step is to determine what’s working and what’s lacking in your current system. Why are you thinking about switching in the first place? Considering current and future needs, identify the things you wish your system did better. Document your business requirements, differentiating “need to haves” from “nice to haves.” This will enable you to compare one tool to another when the time comes.

2. Evaluate your internal processes. Just like tools and trends change, it’s likely that your processes have evolved over time as well. Take a look at your current way of doing things—intake, production and project review to ensure the way you are working is as efficient as possible. Being aware of the changing media environment and future business needs will also help you avoid selecting a solution that you may quickly outgrow.

3. Involve the right players. Once you’ve narrowed your search to a few finalists, be sure to get the right people involved to avoid undue steps in the decision-making process. By including the right people upfront, (representatives from management, design, production, traffic, account service, project management and internal clients) you’ll be better able to identify advantages and shortcomings in the tools you are considering—not to mention, you’ll have buy-in from those involved in the selection process.

4. Get the most bang for your buck. Consider other systems or software that the tool you are evaluating should connect with when implemented. Must the new tool talk to your digital asset manager or play nice with your content system? Is there another team or department that could benefit from using this tool? There can be strength in numbers when seeking approval for such an investment not to mention the benefits associated with integration.

5. Don’t go it alone. There’s an entire community of in-house professionals that are members of IHAF—people who are ready and willing to share their experiences with other members. Connect with one another via the IHAF Linkedin group or by tapping the IHAF team for support. And if you’re not a member of IHAF yet, all you have to do is join!

There are a host of tools and technologies out there to enable efficiency and optimize performance. What’s important is that you evaluate the bells and whistles associated with those tools within the context of how your team operates today and what the demands of the business will be tomorrow.

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