How e-signatures help creative teams be more creative

Two people looking over a pile of papers.

If you lead a creative team, you know the story by heart. A time squeeze has turned a beautiful concept designed to wow your client into a just-in-time deliverable. Hours spent chasing the project’s administrative tasks nibbled away at the hours you had planned to dedicate to deep creative work. The end result is adequate instead of exceptional.

If you are wincing in recognition, you are not alone. The Workfront Global Marketing Report, which surveyed nearly 900 creative marketing professionals worldwide, shows that getting enough time for high-value creative work is a real problem for most teams.

The bright side of identifying this dilemma is that strategic, concrete adjustments to your document workflows — including signature processes — can give valuable time back to your team. Here is how a dedicated e-signature solution can do more for you.

First, take stock

When you were just starting out, a conversation over coffee might have been enough to kick-start a new project. Not anymore. Creative projects need formal approvals at every step — from work agreements and campaign reviews to freelancer contracts and new talent onboarding. Your goal is to free up time for creative work, so look carefully at the agreement processes that take the most time, with the aim of digitizing, automating, and trimming as much as possible.

Sandra Kim, product marketing manager at Adobe, advises to look closely at the flow of your creative projects. “Look for where the pain points are,” she says. “Quickly identify what those are, and then find ways to streamline them.”

Review your workflows as you advance projects with talent, vendors, and clients. Find any paper-based or multistep processes, and identify points of transit or approval that get backlogged, siloed, or otherwise make it hard to pin down the project’s status.

Get inspired by those doing it right

So what does it take to keep projects moving? An integrated e-signature tool can do much more than you might have realized to streamline creative projects.

Ian Bowles, founder and creative director at Gantry Production Studio, points out the sizable shift that’s happened in document management, including agreements. “Even in the past five years, we've gone from non-native digital PDFs like scans of documents, to interactive, digital-native PDFs that have that tracking and can be assigned digitally.”

Bowles says, “It makes our workflow so much faster — we don't have to print stuff out and physically sign it, and then take a picture of it and send it back. When our customers and vendors utilize e-signature solutions, it's just one less thing we need to worry about.”

Bowles says that accurate document tracking for creative projects is essential. “We’ll nail down exactly what we're going to do for a project, the requirements and the deliverables,” he explains. As the proposed deliverables change over time, this process continues “until we get to that finalized scope.”

“Having records of these numbers and what the deliverables involved are is important to us,” Bowles notes, adding that his agency’s previous manual, non-digitized workflow “felt archaic, especially when we were doing cutting-edge work for a client.”

UK creative agency Premier CX has a similar story of transformation — upgrading from a paper-based contract process that could take a full month to a streamlined digital process that clocks in at just a few days. Before their investment in an e-signature solution, “Sales representatives might need to repeatedly email or call a client, because it’s easier to be more ‘out of sight, out of mind’ with hard copies of paper contracts,” recalls Kevin O’Connor, the firm’s director of contact center sales. He notes that the agency’s e-signature solution “saves us time and labor, which is crucial for a smaller company like us as we drive sales and build relationships with massive, global organizations.”

Choose your tools wisely

As you put together a plan to address your pain points and turn sluggish approval processes into high-speed highways, here are a few key criteria to keep in mind:

Integrations: Whether you are integrating into Adobe Creative Cloud or Microsoft 365 applications, you can secure signatures right from where you already work instead of toggling back and forth between apps and browsers. Time saved, money saved.

Custom-branded templates: Your brand is your livelihood, and it pays to always look professional. With the right e-signature solution, your digital paperwork can look sharp — and be created in a snap.

Mobile ready: In our mobile-first world, you are always on the move, and so are your clients and collaborators. Your e-signature solution has to work seamlessly on every device, including the one in your pocket.

Instant notifications: In choosing an e-signature solution, make sure you can get real-time, instant notifications the moment an agreement is opened and signed. It’s time to stop waiting — and start creating.

Enjoy the fruits of your new workflow

While you didn’t enter a creative field because of your passion for document processes, it's clear that the administrative part of creative work is unavoidable. So why not do it right?

Watching updated e-signature processes and streamlined workflows empower your creative team and give them more breathing room can be a transformative experience — and make the upfront change management efforts all feel worth it.

While that last creative project might have ended adequately — instead of exceptionally — the stage is set for a turnaround. Get your time back and do more of the inspiring creative work you love.

Acrobat Sign makes it easier than ever

You may already use Adobe products for your creative and document-related tasks. Now you can get even more by adding Acrobat Sign with easy-to-use features designed for integrated, efficient, and smooth signing experiences. Spend more time doing work you love — like creating — by adding the efficiencies of Acrobat Sign to your regular workflows. Learn more here.