How to Improve Collaboration Between IT and Creative

By Diane Domeyer, Executive Director, The Creative Group

Diane Domeyer, Executive Director, The Creative Group

In today’s world of visual-based technologies, it should be natural for IT and creative professionals to work together. Yet all too often, various stumbling blocks — clashing priorities, scheduling disagreements and ineffective communication — lead to frustrations and prevent digital projects from flowing as smoothly as they could. At worst, one side proceeds without the other’s input, often with less-than-satisfactory results.

Having both sides of the brain on the same team leads to innovative ideas, spirited discussions on what’s achievable versus what’s desirable, and solutions that will best serve your customers 

As an IT leader, there’s much you can do to foster collaboration between your team and the creative department. But first, let’s talk about the value of a right-brain perspective.

Why digital projects need a creative mind

In the past, design was often an after thought for companies. Today, businesses increasingly recognize that the creative process is a priority when embarking on any digital project — be it building a website, e-commerce platform or mobile app. This requires collaboration between IT folk sand creatives who specialize in design, marketing, content and user experience from the get-go.

Having both sides of the brain on the same team leads to innovative ideas, spirited discussions on what’s achievable versus what’s desirable, and solutions that will best serve your customers.

Tips for overcoming collaboration challenges

Here are five steps for strengthening relationships between IT and creative colleagues.

1. Nail the brief. Developers and designers alike should fully understand a project’s purpose, as well as the user profiles,needs and desires. An essential starting point is a detailed brief that clearly outlines desired outcomes and milestones.

2. Get together early. Ideally,the heads of both departments should preplan a project together and then bring in IT and creative at the same time to demonstrate that both sides are equally important. This kickoff is the time for defining roles — who will do what.

3. Communicate often. Developers and designers might work in different buildings, time zones or even countries. All this makes frequent touchpoints crucial. Schedule regular check-in sessions and encourage a variety of communication methods. When possible, cross-functional teams can even “cohabitate” in a workspace for the duration of a project — a growing trend among some organizations.

4. Foster a supportive environment. Recognize that IT and creative professionals may have differing work styles and personalities. Encourage teams to respect each other’s talents and insights. Set the tone in creating an environment of trust where feedback is given constructively and received with a spirit of openness and cooperation.

5. Be prepared to compromise. With limitations on time and resources, no one can get everything they want. If obstacles arise, encourage team members to make their case for or against moving forward with a particular task, and then to make concessions for the good of the company. If an impasse is reached, you and the creative director will have to step in.

Advances in online and mobile technologies offer businesses expanded opportunities to reach their target consumers. This is a clear case where IT and creative departments are better working together versus alone. Start building bridges and stronger relationships with creatives now — it’ll lead to better digital solutions and happier customers and employees.

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