Andrea Fryrear, President and Lead Trainer, AgileSherpas

“You can’t effectively deal with a bottleneck if you don’t have the workflow visualized so that you know where it really is.”

When you reach the create phase, it’s impossible to eliminate bottlenecks completely. The theory of constraints tells us that every system is going to have at least one bottleneck, and there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s why visibility is so crucial at this point in the cycle. You need to be able to see where the bottleneck is and then optimize the rest of the system around it. Too often organizations see a process that seems to be getting stuck in one general area, so they throw more people or more money at it. But that’s actually not going to give them the process optimization they’re looking for. You can’t effectively deal with a bottleneck if you don’t have the workflow visualized so that you know where it really is.

Visibility into the creative workflow and output also helps avoid duplicate efforts. An agile process can help with this through sprint review meetings where everyone shows and tells what they did over the past few weeks. You can attend those meetings with other teams to see what they are doing. If you see something that is 80% of what you’ve been trying to do, you can build on that. A formalized process can avoid duplication of work and save time. It also helps to have a central repository like a digital asset management system. Review meetings in which everyone sees all the great work other teams are doing fall flat if it’s hard to get your hands on those materials. If you become frustrated spending a lot of time looking for something, you might easily decide just to make it yourself, even if it takes longer. A centralized repository improves efficiency and avoids duplication.

The ultimate goal of an efficient, smoothly running creative process is that you can maintain a predictable, sustainable pace of quality output. You don’t want people working all the time and getting burned out to the point of being unproductive or quitting. This damages your process in the long run. It goes back to process visualization and being able to see a smooth workflow from ideation out to publication and analysis. You should not have most of the workflow stuck in one phase at any point in time. You must watch the process and continuously optimize it.

This is an excerpt from 7 Experts on Using the Content Lifecycle to Maximize Content ROI. The eBook was generously sponsored by Aprimo.