The Critical Path

When a project enters your agency, it begins to move along a critical path, or timeline. Initial, interim and delivery dates are carefully established. This allows for more realistic prioritization among all projects. Below is a suggested Critical Path, as well as a diagram, outlining key workflow management steps.

Initially, the account executive (AE) meets with the client and obtains project details. The information is then entered into a creative brief (or contact report). The traffic manager (TM) is subsequently notified and opens a job number. He/she also creates an overall timeline for the project and schedules a kickoff meeting.

A Print and/or Production Estimate is compiled and reviewed. The AE and TM receive spec information via a print or broadcast insertion order (if applicable).

Once internally approved, materials are presented to the client and next steps are outlined via a change order or progress report. If the client has approved the media buy, space and air time is booked; if the estimate(s), the production manager files purchase orders and contracts with vendors. In the instance of a broadcast project, the CD discusses director and voice selections with the creative team.

Revised creative, estimates and media details (if required) are re-presented by the AE and final approval is obtained. Voice tapes are compiled for client approval and, upon talent approval, the broadcast job is awarded. A pre-pro schedule is formulated. The shoot or recording session is held and a post-pro schedule is formulated. Final client approval of rough cuts is obtained by the AE.

The TM requests materials be loaded on disk or posted to the job(s) on line creative folder for download by the vendor(s). A dub information sheet is routed to the broadcast producer. The TM alerts the production manager (or media department) that creative has been posted and they, in turn, alert vendors. Dubs (if applicable) are made and handed off to the TM who, in turn, gives them to the media department for distribution.

A proof of printed work is received and routed to the TM. He/she routes it to the appropriate parties and, ultimately, back to the Production Manager for delivery date confirmation. The TM requests final artwork be backed up internally. Materials are printed and delivered as specified.

The accounting manager completes billout and the TM removes the job from the active jobs area.

The project is complete.

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