Is it time to fast track your advertising workflow? This process isn’t for everyone, and normally benefits larger agencies who need to get more done. Have you ever heard the expression ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’? Well this is exactly that, fast-tracking your workflow mean agencies are creating two or more workflows for projects or one-off clients that do not require account management. So, is it for you?

“The more people touch a brief, the more you have to change. It means another set of hands reviewing a brief, another set of eyes to check for what’s missing, backwards and forwards,” – Darryl Anderson, Studio and Design Manager

Building fast-track workflows

The aim of fast-track workflows (also known as “exception workflows”) is to reduce the processes involved in the project, usually by bypassing a number of the usual approval steps.

Fast track workflows can be built in four steps:

1. Decide on who to include: a fast-track workflow does not mean totally skipping all checks and balances. What approval stages and decision makers need to be included in this workflow?

2. Come up with strict, template-based processes: decide on how things are to be done, by whom, and the time frames for each task. By standardizing and tightening up the practices around briefing, client change and approval, you can quickly apply the workflow to new projects.

3. Build systems that allow clients to self service: whether you are using existing asset management and workflow management systems, implementing new job approval systems, or asking clients to notate PDFs for changes, the focus should be on ease of use and accessibility.

4. Get the clients on board with said processes and systems: explain the process, and the benefits to the client, and train them in the use of the systems.

It’s easy to think that all projects should be fast tracked, you have huge amounts of work, clients breathing down your neck and impending deadlines. Fast-track workflows are useful for saving time, but they have the potential to be abused. Remember, not all projects should be fast-tracked – in fact, half the battle is in deciding whether a project should use a fast-tracked or using your traditional full workflow.

To make a decision, it’s important to look what the client needs are. Generally speaking, projects for larger brand clients which require a lot of nursing and account servicing should not be put into a fast-track workflow. Some clients, particularly larger ones, may prefer to have ownership over the systems and software used in the workflow: in these cases it would not be feasible to ask these clients to adopt your processes. Because of these factors, some agencies prefer to reserve fast-track workflows for clients that they have worked with before, and who they have reached a mutual understanding with.