The Importance of Artwork Management in the Product Lifecycle
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but they say nothing about judging a package by its label. The artwork surrounding your product is just as valuable and important as your product itself (if not more so; just ask anyone who collects action figures), and it requires a well-managed process.
Unfortunately, the processes that manage artwork within large food, beverage, and consumer packaged goods manufacturers appear to be breaking down under pressure, not rising to the challenge. The industries above are already facing several pressures:
- Consumer spending recently braked to almost the slowest rate in half a decade.
- Meanwhile, the cost of packaging material has increased, as ecommerce companies purchase more and more cardboard to ship their online orders.
- More and more, consumers are demanding recyclable and sustainably-sourced packaging materials, adding another roadblock for artwork designers.
As a result of these pressures, research from Siemens shows that there is now a productivity gap between most manufacturing and artwork design processes. This leads directly to packaging write-offs that can account for up to 3% of corporate revenue.
These losses are less than ideal. Consumer products organizations need to rapidly evolve new ways for their art designers to keep up with their manufacturers, or else face increasing losses.
How do artwork challenges occur?
Even in the age of ecommerce, seeing a product on the shelf and in its packaging is among the most important purchase drivers there is. As such, the product, its packaging, and the accompanying artwork must all be approved and shipped at the same time.
This becomes more difficult if:
- No one knows where the artwork – such as logos, fonts, stock photos, and other assets unique to the organization – happens to be stored.
- The artwork, once found, can’t be opened or manipulated by the people who need to use it (you can’t open a .EPS file using Gimp, for instance).
- The approved artwork doesn’t match the product in some way – for example, if the finished boxes depict a green widget, but the production widget is blue, then the art team needs to start all over again.
- The approved artwork uses assets that are out-of-date.
- There’s a dimensional mismatch between packaging and product.
Some of these problems can be traced to miscommunications. Someone on the product team decides to change something about the product, and doesn’t tell the art team, or vice versa. Someone with key knowledge retires and doesn’t tell the successor where they left the logo files. Seemingly inconsequential decisions can snowball into massive challenges in this manner.
On the other hand, additional artwork management problems can arise from manual processes. For example, lets say that you’re currently managing the art development process via spreadsheet. Maybe a deadline slips, which means that someone needs to open the spreadsheet, physically change a cell or formula, and then promulgate the new version to the rest of the team. If any of those steps fail, the whole project could stall while people wait for artwork that just isn’t ready yet. This can have a direct impact on time to market.
Here are a few ways that that organizations can bring artwork management back into the product lifecycle in ways that reflect its importance to the process.
Fixing the Artwork Management process with Lifecycle Management
Artwork Management challenges arise because multiple teams end up working in silos, with very infrequent contact with one another. When companies integrate artwork management solutions into the product lifecycle, it forces teams to work together. These changes let everyone know what everyone else is doing.
- Centralize Data Storage
Don’t lose assets again. Each project will use a centralized digital asset manager in which the correct data is attached and used throughout the project.
- Holistic approval process
Getting approval for a piece of artwork or packaging is not a process that should be left to email. Verbal approval isn’t enough either. Manufacturers need to implement a process where everyone within a project can see if a piece of artwork is currently useable.
- Key Performance Indicators
Out of all the artwork that’s being produced, how much is being approved for use in packaging? How long does it usually take? These questions are important if you want to get your art finished before your products are ready to appear on shelves.
Lastly, your workers should be willing to adopt a new product. A certain amount of all new software implementations fail due to employee resistance. As such, your chosen application should be easy to use, especially for employees who have previously relied on spreadsheets as their primary method of project management.
Begin intelligent artwork management with Loftware
Loftware’s Smartflow artwork management solution makes it possible to simply manage your packaging lifecycle process. Our solution helps streamline processes, maintain control, offer collaboration and provide visibility – creating new efficiencies and eliminating delays to reduce time to market. For more information, contact Loftware today!