Words no creative professional wants to hear? “That’s great, but we have a few more changes…” More cycles equal higher costs, lower profits, resources tied up, delays, and a worse experience for everyone involved. As more organizations take on video and creative production as part of their overall communication and marketing strategy, those words — and the costs associated with them — are becoming all too common.
That’s why we’ve been working hard to build Slope not only as a creative review tool, but as a project management tool for creative teams. This week we are excited to introduce a new way for teams to plan, track, and collaborate on their creative work. With Slope, teams can avoid costly rework by making the entire process more transparent and collaborative, let stakeholders sound off on important decisions in real time, and give everyone a clear view of the project workflow and status.
Creativity is Driving Businesses Forward
Businesses are producing more content than ever before across different industries, and even internal departments. This trend translates to an increasing demand for more, and higher quality content: more than $160 billion worth, according to recent industry statistics. But the chaotic process that creatives are forced to hack together has resulted in lost productivity, which is costing companies major money. Businesses wasted $958 million in creative production inefficiencies in 2014, according to a study by Gleanster Research.
The problem simply isn’t going to be solved by using the same tools that define the creative process of the past — sticky notes, spreadsheets, email, and generic task management. These simply don’t work for the creative process.
The problem is that creative production typically involves a series of costly commitments and decisions at each stage of the process. Comments fly back and forth through email chains, or everyone waits until everyone can come together for a meeting. Leaders set expectations, then have to wait until the producers come back with the work. If the deliverable falls short, it’s back to the drawing board, resulting in delays, lost productivity and creative compromises.
The opacity and uncertainty around creative production not only squanders time and money but makes some businesses think twice about adopting strategies to implement dynamic media at all. If there was a better way to manage the process, it would be a boon for businesses and producers.
Current Tools Don’t Cut It — We Tried Them
Dan Bloom, Slope’s Co-founder and COO, and I are both intimately familiar with how difficult it is to manage creative work. The company we originally set out to build together was a creative agency, and we worked with dozens of companies on small projects to large campaigns. We used everything from email to spreadsheets to Basecamp to Vimeo. We realized that there was no ideal tool to collaborate with clients (and with each other internally), or effectively manage the process.
The choice was between generic project management applications like Trello or Basecamp, which lack the proofing and asset management tools needed for creative work, or expensive, complicated enterprise-oriented platforms that would give us lots of bells and whistles, but were cumbersome to use.
We wanted something that had robust project management capabilities to track tasks, due dates, and people, combined with features like proofing, version control, and real-time collaboration. In short, we needed a platform built specifically for creative work that makes it simple and efficient to work together on videos, designs, images, and other types of content.
Our own problems inspired us to build a better solution. That’s how Slope was born…
How Does Slope Work?
Slope is designed to enable you to plan, track, and collaborate in one place. What does that look like, exactly? Let me show you.
Slope’s interface is based around “Projects” — folders containing project information and assets in one place.
Each project is made up of tasks. Tasks can be assigned to members of your team, and be given due dates. Slope has your regular to-do tasks, like “license song” or “publish to social media”.
A core advantage of using Slope is that you can also create content tasks. In a content task, you can upload designs, videos, or any other file, preview them directly in the browser, and manage the entire review and approval process.
For organizations managing multiple work-streams simultaneously, Slope’s calendar and stage tracker provide an at-a-glance update on the status and recent changes to all active projects. As teams work in Slope, progress is tracked automatically as our stage tracker updates based on the actions taken in Slope.
The creative process is simplified with Slope. Everyone can view and track the chain of approvals and notifications, and everyone can see and comment on the right version of each task. Slope increases accountability as comments are time-stamped for everyone to see, previous versions and comments are saved, and it’s apparent when approvals are pending. As a result, you’re able to streamline a process that’s typically piecemeal and easily identify your bottlenecks to increase efficiency on future projects.
Teams that use Slope find that they have increased efficiency, which gives the team the capacity to produce more iterations, faster, resulting in higher quality work, completed on time.
Who Is Slope For?
One of the benefits of Slope is its versatility. We built Slope to be flexible enough to handle simple and complex projects, and fit your team’s unique creative process. Any team that produces creative work can benefit from using Slope. Whether you’re a designer at a major sports franchise, or the owner of a small creative agency, Slope makes planning projects and sharing work much more efficient — saving you and your team time and money.
The need for a tool like Slope stems from the production of content across more departments in organizations. It’s been exciting to see teams other than marketing start to implement new types of content as a critical part of their strategic plan. We’ve even written about creative ways to use video! Videos and infographics (among other types of content) are helping customer success teams educate new customers, and sales reps tell stories about successful clients.
Considering the hunger for content at all levels, we are excited to innovate and help bring tools to the people who would rather spend their days brainstorming, writing, and designing than checking in on statuses, and emailing. Creative work is a driver of business goals, and we will keep trying to make the work easier and more efficient, one project at a time.
Brian & Dan, Co-Founders of Slope