Is Your Artwork Management Process Slowing You Down?
by Maureen Perroni, on May 16, 2018
While product artwork is usually thought of as back office tedium, it's importance is well understood at all levels, especially given the incredibly high standards that commercial artwork today is expected to uphold. Artwork creation and approval, when affected at scale becomes a highly involved method that is as complex as any other aspect of a company’s product creation process. Given that artwork errors are usually the first to be noted (should any exist), a company needs to be absolutely sure that its packaging satisfies all the criteria and is executed perfectly.
Why Artwork Management Matters
It’s the stuff of nightmares - a company spends untold sums and thousands of man-hours developing a product. Their artwork teams (like their peers in R&D) are under tremendous pressure to deliver quality, compliant artwork at the earliest.
The company has shareholders to answer to and a deadline to beat. But perfecting the right design is easier said than done. Many companies are using antiquated manual processes for artwork management. Inconsistent data, limited access to a digital asset libraries for all people involved and lack of proofing tools means the teams spend an inordinate amount of time creating and editing artwork and mistakes are always around the corner. Final approval seems like a distant mirage as pieces are revised again and again.
As the launch date draws near, a final design is hurriedly selected. The products finally roll out. Unfortunately, it’s discovered too late that a key piece of information on the art was exchanged with that of another product in the same line. A mistake that retailers pick up in no time at all.
Faced with the prospects of regulatory fines, lawsuits, more delays and dissatisfied customers, an entire product recall is all the company can do while their brand name is irreparably damaged as the story is covered at length in the news and social media. The sheer number of packaging and labelling fails on the internet point to the fact that such occurrences are far too common. Sadly, such errors can easily be avoided with the correct tools and a robust process.
The Growing Sophistication of Artwork Management
Modern artwork management is a long and cumbersome process with many moving parts that need to work like a well oiled machine in order to deliver quality artwork consistently. This is particularly crucial as stakeholders work to meet time to market expectations and avoid costly mistakes. An exploded illustration of the process will look something like this…
- Content Aggregation: As artwork teams have to deal with information spread across multiple departments and locations, the first order of business is to identify the assets needed, and get the in one system.
- Artwork Request Submission: Management teams issue a request for new artwork by drawing up a spec sheet.
- Artwork Creation: Based on the provided specs, the artwork team creates and submits proof-of-concepts to management for approval.
- Artwork Approval: By far the most critical step of the process and unfortunately, also where most of the delays/mistakes happen. The submitted artwork is approved against submitted specs, regulatory guidelines, industry best practices and company policies. As multiple teams now become involved, having a smart, collaborative and well thought-out process becomes vital to ensuring quick approval.
- Digital Asset Management (DAM): While important in all industries as best practice, companies in regulated spaces need to be extra careful as how they manage their digital asset inventories come under oversight. Comprehensive Artwork Management Solutions, such as those provided by Loftware can not only help companies stay compliant, but also straighten out their artwork creation and approval process and product lifecycle management.
- Distribution: Once management is confident that the submitted artwork is up to their standards and compliant, it is sent off for production.
Add to this multiple team members working from different locations, thousands of assets stored on different drive and with varied printers and designers, multiple documents being sent across email to every stakeholder involved, all tasked with developing multiple versions and we are suddenly presented with a high probability of errors, wasted time and resources.
Regulatory compliance is another sticking point that can slow down your artwork design process. Not only does a company need to make sure their packaging is not misleading, but also all information complies with local laws, industry best practices and company policies.
While it may seem tempting to manual solutions that people are used to wherever feasible, the consequences that wrong or delayed artwork present are mind boggling to contemplate. The problem of packaging artwork is indeed one of management in most cases. Lack of transparency due to a poorly defined workflow can make creation, versioning and approval a needlessly long process.
Workflow management solutions such as Smartflow can not only help you define the right processes, but also gain a bird’s eye view of the entire workflow. Artwork management systems are built to ensure that everyone is on the same page at all times so that the risk of errors are brought down to nil.