As a Studio Manager, the last thing you want to see is a job circulating countless rounds or a project taking much longer than the estimated time, thus creating a bottleneck in your workflow and affecting your deadline. The ideal is a steady and smooth flow of jobs getting in and out period.
PROCESSIt doesn't matter how big or small your studio is, you need to have a process in place. All entities interacting and affecting your workflow must acknowledge this process. Otherwise, you'll have chaos and disorganization in your studio. There is a misconception about not implementing process because of the size of the studio and in my personal opinion it's just wrong. Process is the only way to guarantee a consistent result on similar tasks.
STYLE-GUIDEEvery account should have a set of guidelines. If you find yourself working on a new account and you don't have the style guide, it's time to create one. You should communicate to the Account and Creative teams of the need of a style-guide. They'll happily agree, because everybody benefits from having one. This ensures consistency on every job output from this particular account.
JOB LOGLogging-in every job either manually or by means of a software (a database like FileMaker Pro is recommended) will provide very valuable data that can be used to assist you in future decision-making and planning.
PRIORITIZINGTo establish priorities is a no-brainer, but sometimes it can be very tricky. In my opinion, the client should be your number one priority. Jobs that require files to be sent to the client, mechanical releases or any production job in general should be considered a priority. Very often you'll get "rush" requests that in reality are driven by personal agendas—it's just something you have to deal with.
THE BRIEFThis is probably the most important part of taking a job to the studio. So many jobs go to an unnecessary number of extra rounds due to a misunderstanding in the briefing. It's a good idea to have the studio artist taking part in the briefing. They usually have questions and the requester can answer them in the spot. At the end of the briefing, make sure everyone is on the same page about the task at hand. Make sure supplied assets are correct, FTP sites, copy sent via e-mail, etc., before the requester leaves, just to make sure that everything is in order and we'll be able to meet the deadline with no problems.
10-MINUTE RULEAfter delegating a job to a studio artist, if he/she finds an issue, give them 10 minutes to figure it out on their own and if they can't, then they must bring it back to their manager, who'll take proper action either by finding a solution or by notifying the requester about the issue.
WATCH THE ROUNDSIt's a matter of great concern when a simple advertorial circulates more than 4 times. It's definitely a red flag and you should pay close attention to this. Identify the problem and take action.
These workflow tips are specifically for an advertising/graphic studio. However, some of them can also be applied to other industries where workflow management is part of the daily work routine. I hope you find them useful. If you have any tips of your own, please share them with us.