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Online Proofing: 10 Reasons Why You Need it Now

By BLUE Software

“Label and artwork approvals are some of the biggest bottlenecks in my product-to-market process.” – Label and Artwork Management Stakeholders Everywhere

Truth be told: this isn’t too surprising.  Label and artwork projects typically include a wide range of people both inside and outside of the packaging process: marketing, legal, regulatory, operations, agencies, printers, etc.  And then there are the “approvers,” who may include executives, sales, and other partners.

Because label and artwork projects can cut across so many functions, label and artwork processes often entail multiple hand-offs… and with so many hand-offs, the approval process can be chaotic.  Feedback may be returned via multiple channels (think phone calls, email trails, and handwritten scribbles, to name a few), which impedes momentum and encourages errors.

But we have good news: you don’t have to work this way.  A move to Label and Artwork Management software with online collaborative proofing can dramatically change the work-life of everyone involved in the approval process.  Online collaborative proofing gives you the ability to share large digital asset files online with your team, your agencies, and your printers – in any file format, and from any device.  And you can capture feedback on those files in a single online tool.  With online collaborative proofing, you streamline the approval process, capture all feedback at the point of hand-off, and gain access to feedback history.  Packaging teams find they can move forward without additional meetings and conference calls and gone are the days of chasing approvers down the hallway.

Despite these benefits, however, we understand why you may still hesitate to implement Label and Artwork Management technology with online collaborative proofing.  Change can be hard and implementing software of any kind can seem daunting at first pass.  You may be thinking, “Why go through the hassle?”

Here are 10 reasons why:

  1. Avoid Inbox Traffic

It’s common practice to share label and artwork content and feedback over email for many reasons.  Email is a reliable way to communicate quickly, and at scale if necessary.  It allows the recipient to respond at their leisure.  Email keeps track of itself, and it allows the user to skip the “niceties” usually required in a phone call.

But email is more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to Label and Artwork Management.  Large files can be difficult to download, and email threads can quickly become unwieldy.  The version in your inbox might not include the most recent changes.  Or multiple people might have made changes, but one or more of the changes conflicts with previously approved content and so the file has to re-trace its steps.

With online proofing, review and approval conversations occur outside of the email inbox.  You gain a fluid, accessible approval process.  Everyone can see the latest artwork version – and the annotations on it – in real-time.  They also have instant access to briefing documents and reference files so feedback aligns with pre-approved assets and guidelines.

  1. Eliminate File Sharing Solutions

Okay, so you don’t use email, you use Google Docs, Dropbox, or Sharepoint.  Good for you… sort of.  The truth is, these “sharing” solutions present a unique set of challenges. It’s easy for inexperienced users to delete files and it can be difficult to track uploads.  Furthermore, none of these platforms actually allow users to share feedback.

In contrast, with online proofing, users can easily proof files online from a browser without the risk of deleting files, and it’s designed to capture feedback from multiple stakeholders (and in multiple languages if you’re using BLUE!).

  1. Access Files from Any Location

Attending a conference?  Sitting at the airport? When you’re proofing online, you can review and approve large files from any internet-connected device. This allows approvers to provide feedback quickly, which in turn improves your time to market.

  1. Easily Proof Audio and Video Content

While it’s usually easy to share documents and graphics, audio and video files can be more challenging to send and display.  Online proofing, however, enables multiple team members to simultaneously view, compare, and annotate on digital media (video, photo, graphics, layout, audio, labels) on any device and from any location. This functionality improves collaboration and communication.

  1. Gain Feedback Clarity

When communicating feedback over email, an approver has to describe, rather than show, their revisions.  This opens the door to a world of mis-interpretation.  An online proofing tool, however, allows approvers to easily show their revisions by marking up content as if it were an actual hard copy.

Online proofing technology also provides compare revision tools so that two artwork versions can be compared. This makes it easy for all stakeholders to ensure the correct changes have been implemented.

  1. Reduce Compliance Risk

Online proofing decreases the risk of compliance issues. All feedback is saved in one location, eliminating the likelihood of missed changes.

  1. Master Version Control

In an approval process with multiple revision cycles, it can become difficult to ensure all of your stakeholders are proofing the same file version after the first round.  Online proofing guarantees they are.

  1. Record All Feedback

Going back through your inbox to look for feedback is more or less akin to looking for a needle in a haystack – a haystack that may have even been deleted.  Online proofing solutions offer archiving, so you always have access to feedback and approval history.

  1. Encourage Accountability

Accountability is essential to creating efficient teams and hitting deadlines, but if you’re manually proofing files, it’s hard to tell where an approval was delayed or why a stage-gate was missed.

Online proofing gives you accountability. Documentation is available for each task, and this transparency and traceability can support a root-cause analysis in the event of a delay. It identifies bottlenecks and highlights where you are in the approval process at all times, enabling timely follow-up and flagging opportunities for improvement.

  1. Save Money

With online proofing, you’re more likely to stay on deadline and on budget. In fact, the cumulative benefit of improved collaboration and communication, full visibility into approvals/changes, increased content quality, reduced turnaround times, and decreased overall error rates yield significant reductions in proofing costs.

Choose the Right Tool for the Job

While email and file sharing solutions are useful tools to have in your toolbox, they’re not always the right tools for the job. If even one of the challenges described above feels familiar, now might be the right time to learn more about how Label and Artwork Management software with online collaborative proofing can improve your review and approval processes.  Download our e-book: Boost the Bottom Line by Streamlining Package Design.