One important component of my business that I have been developing is a repeatable production workflow for every project. This means that every client goes through the exact same steps in order to get from concept to completion. In the past, I internally fought having a defined process because I thought it would dampen my creativity. My experience was opposite. Without a system, my creativity suffered. I needed to find a better way.
Learning from Lean Manufacturing
In manufacturing, Lean is a methodology of eliminating waste from a system by reducing stress or overburdens and unevenness or inefficiencies. As the system’s waste is eliminated, value is added. In my system, there was abundant waste and I needed to root it out. I was spending too much time reinventing the wheel for each project. I was losing track of project status and communication with clients was not up to my ideal standards. It was time to dive into the waste and see what could be identified and eliminated.
Stress #1: Not utilizing automation and digital systems in the acquisition of customer data and project information.
Solution #1: An extensive project discovery form developed in Gravity Forms that collects a wide-range of important details including project goals, client aesthetics, and previous experience with video production.
Stress #2: Not having a project management system easily accessible for clients 24×7.
Solution #2: Using Trello, I created a video project template that could be easily duplicated into a new project board and shared with the client. It is broken up into four areas: The Plan, The Action, The Edit, and The Launch. All important details are shared and progress is communicated on a consistent basis.
The Plan transforms the client’s goals and objectives into an actionable plan. It includes all of the administrative work, links to the discovery form, a statement of work, budget information, shooting locations, the script, interview questions, the production schedule, and inspiration.
The Action brings the plan to life through the production of all media and associated materials. The different phases of The Action include interviews, B-roll, animation, music, photography, and graphic design.
The Edit is where the client’s story is polished by making sure all media is working together to meet the project’s goals. A typical project includes a rough assembly edit, fine editing to a specific time length, color grading, an audio mix, and final edits.
The Launch prepares the client’s story assets to be shared on social networks and the client’s own channels of distribution. Key deliverables in this stage include effective titles, descriptions, and keywords as well as the prepared digital files in the proper formats for social networks.
As each project unfolds, I will be updating my production workflow to ensure my system is lean. The project discovery form will be tweaked. The Trello board will be refined. I may use another project management system. But the important lesson to learn is having a production workflow that is being tended to is crucial for success.
What does your production workflow look like? Do you know or are you winging it every time? Take a few hours to define a consistent workflow so that you are not frustrating yourself and your clients.