The Secret to Hitting Deadlines

Posted by Steve Harris on Jul 6, 2016 7:00:00 AM
Steve Harris

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Monitor Workloads for your Creative Team

What is the secret behind hitting your deadlines? Monitoring workloads for your creative team. It’s critical to identify the metrics important to understanding and measuring your workloads. Once you identify these metrics, you can find tools, such as project management software, to help you track, measure, and analyze these metrics. Through this analyzation you can better plan, prepare, and produce quality work on schedule.

Busy creative teams need simple tools to analyze workloads in order to better manage tasks and stick to deadlines. Are you constantly asking yourself, who on my team has time to take the next job? Do I need more staff? Why does the team seem so overworked? What are the busy time periods for the team? Using a tool to monitor workloads assigned to the creative team will provide insight into questions like these and more.


Define How You Measure Workloads


To track your team's workload you first have to define how you measure workloads. Many people think that if they do not track time sheets they cannot track workloads, but this is not necessarily true. Timesheet tracking is beneficial for a lot of reasons, however, many in-house creative teams do not have the need to track time with time sheets. That being said, you still need a simple method to see who is busy, who has excess capacity, and who is overloaded.


There are a number of ways to measure workload other than assigning time to each task on a job schedule. We have seen creative teams use a variety of metrics over the years to analyze resource loads.  


Here are a few to consider:


  • Task hours assigned to each team member

  • Number of tasks assigned to a team member

  • Number of jobs assigned to a team member

  • Number of tasks due today or this week

  • Number of jobs due today or this week

  • Number of jobs past due

These are a few practical metrics every creative team can monitor with the help of project management software.


Understand Your Workflow To Choose The Best Metric


When analyzing this data, it’s important to keep in mind that each metric has limitations and only provides one data point. For example, if you are just tracking tasks assigned to designers, one designer may have a task that takes 1 week, but another may have a task that takes 15 minutes. A comparison of who has the most tasks due is irrelevant in this example because although they both have one task, the amount of time spent on the task is quite different. In this case, you would want to choose a different data point to monitor, because this wouldn’t give you the best outlook into the actual workload of each designer.


There are, however, many creative teams that do the same type of work over and over, and each job often has tasks that take about the same amount of time. In this case the number of tasks due for each designer is meaningful. The key here is to really take a look at your workflow and determine what data points will provide you with insight into your workload. At the highest level, even monitoring the number of jobs due each day is meaningful.


Choose Software That Can Measure Your Selected Metrics


Once you determine the metric(s) you want to monitor, you can take the following steps to begin measuring and analyzing your data.


  1. Determine how you are going to measure loads by defining a metric. For example, I want to know how many tasks are due for each designer this week.  

  2. Use a software tool to assign jobs to people. Create schedules with tasks, and assign tasks to team members.

  3. Create dashboards to monitor metrics.  

Although you could manually enter and update tasks in a spreadsheet, utilizing a software application will make your life so much easier. Most software applications not only have the ability to track entered tasks, but they can sort tasks, create schedules, and also produce dashboards that help give a quick look at important metrics - all automatically. The precision and ease of using a project management software to track data is key in properly analyzing workloads and as a result, sticking to your deadlines.


Analyze Your Data For Better Project Management


Once you are entering jobs and assigning work, you can quickly refer to a widget to analyze resource loads. For example, in the chart below we simply show the number of tasks due this week, for each designer on our team. If most of our tasks take the same amount of time, we can see that Tom Jerry has many more tasks than Bart Will this week, which gives us an indication that we can assign more tasks to Bart Will instead of overloading Tom Jerry.  

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Example of a report created by JobSuite to measure tasks due this week by designer. 

The whole point of measuring your workload is to achieve better project management. Being able to see who is overworked, when you need to prepare for more staff, and when you can let up on hours is extremely important to managing tasks and keeping deadlines. If you’re team is always on track and on time, you won’t ever have to approach a client with your tail between your legs asking to push back a deadline. Implement project management software, start measuring important metrics for your team, and analyze the data to organize and plan ahead for the workload to come.


Next Steps


So, get started organizing your workflow and managing your workloads with these steps as described above.


  1. Analyze your workflow and determine what metrics you can use to measure actual workload
  2. Find a software solution that allows you to measure these metrics
  3. Implement your software solution by entering in jobs, tasks, staff, and deadlines
  4. Monitor these metrics using dashboards (if applicable) or reports
  5. Make necessary decisions regarding workload and develop a schedule for the future

Now you may be wondering what software application you should use? Check out our blog post about how to select software to help you make a decision! And of course, browse through JobSuite’s features page to take a look at all of the benefits JobSuite can provide for your team.

Topics: In-House Creative