Take Confusion out of Artwork Management

by Steve Cronan, on July 9, 2019

Version management is a complex process requiring plenty of input from many team members.
Version management is a complex process requiring plenty of input from many team members.

The processes that go into designing and iterating product artwork can easily lead to confusion and human error. Companies that don't use all of the tools at their disposal to organize and document each version of a piece of packaging artwork may find themselves dealing with any number of issues, from delays getting items onto shelves to compliance problems due to incorrect label versions entering production.

Businesses may be keeping their artwork management processes consistent out of inertia, yielding to the way things have always been done. This mindset can lead to outdated and inefficient workflows, weakening organizations' new product development capabilities and limiting their ability to update labels or create versions for global markets. It's therefore time to commit to centralized and dedicated Artwork Management Solutions, before procedures slip into further confusion.

The Musts of Effective Version Management

Taking product packaging artwork from an initial concept to a finished version - and potentially creating multiple iterations for various markets - requires several rounds of design work and decision-making. There's no way to make this process 100% simple and efficient, so companies have to consider how they'll manage the resulting complexity.

Getting the sign-off on a packaging design from all the key stakeholders is one of the most essential parts of Artwork Management, and the 99designs blog explained that companies should go further, focus testing their artwork on individuals from outside the internal team before considering any design final. A third party may spot a discrepancy or problem that went undetected on numerous passes through the designers and managers.

Adding these extra points of contact and approval may be the right step for companies, but that doesn't mean businesses should let their workflows get to complicated. Industrial Packaging emphasized that organizations should cut out points of contact who are not necessary to the product's development. These two pieces of advice show the delicate balance associated with Artwork Management workflows: Adding extra steps and skipping important ones are both damaging to the overall process.

Documentation is the primary element of good version management, and artwork management in general. Companies need to centralize both their assets and all logs tracking changes, updates and comments. This need for centralization holds true even when businesses rely on third parties for their design work, as a Medium post from Design Positive pointed out. Every element that goes into product artwork should be accessible by all involved parties, never allowing a missing asset lead to a breakdown in the design process.

An office team and a world map.Artwork management, even at its simplest, concerns many people and teams.

Modern Artwork Management Features

Trying to meet the many requirements of effective Artwork Management appears to be a challenge, but it doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, purchasing a modern, automated Artwork Management Solution is one step that can have a far-reaching impact, delivering multiple valuable features. Wrangling the multiple versions of packaging, both during pre-release development and when iterating for new markets, is much simpler with a centralized suite of digital access tools.

A good Artwork Management system provides a one-stop portal for the latest, updated versions of each visual asset. Rather than storing the finalized files with no context, these solutions deliver other documentation and related files, all linked together in projects to ensure that every person in the approval chain is working with the same information. A version history feature enables professionals to see who else has signed off on a file or made a change, and to determine what those alterations were.

Even when leaders dutifully cut their artwork approval processes down to essential personnel they will have several layers of approval to go through, sometimes including individuals from outside the company and inevitably crossing departmental lines. Compliance experts, marketers and others will likely have plenty of notes on designers' work. Getting a purpose-built Artwork Management system is the surest way to unite these team members in a visible framework that is clearly understandable to every stakeholder.

Effective Artwork Management to Overcome Complexities

Delays during the creation and approval of new packaging artwork are inevitable. Using the right Artwork Management system offers a way to  to anticipate slowdowns and make navigating them as quick and easy as possible. Organizations can take advantage of the detailed view enabled by these solutions to improve their processes and become better over time. The best of these automated Artwork Management products are highly configurable, so businesses will be able to adapt their pre-adoption workflows instead of completely replacing them with a new approach.

Legacy version management can be disorganized and time-consuming, with files piling up on hard drives and servers as well as in email inboxes, and low-quality versions of images moving back and forth between various interested parties. Duplication of data and potential miscommunications are recipes for human error, product delays or both. This is the most obvious reason to use automated and configurable Artwork Management Solutions: While companies may be loath to replace processes that aren't broken, traditional version management is broken in many ways.

For more on the many benefits of a automated and configurable Artwork Management Solution check out our report "From Chaos to Calm."