The running back bursts through a hole in the defensive line, ball tucked tightly under his arm, the hash marks beginning to blur as he gains momentum. He sheds one tackle, then two, and as his eyes gaze wildly at the end zone he sees defenders obscure the path. However, he remains determined to get there.
This is what getting your product to market is like: a running back dodging defenders, stiff-arming tackles, and holding tight to the football – only instead of tackles you have complicated approval chains and cross-functional teams who can sometimes fumble. Fortunately, there’s a way to get through all of the obstacles (and football metaphors). In fact, we have five label and artwork management metrics to help you sprint to the end zone…or the market, as it were. Here is our countdown. Hut, hut, and hike!
5. Ship Date Variance:
How many days was your project behind schedule? Like a canary in a coalmine, ship date variance is a good indicator something is wrong within the process. And needless to say, each day that passes without your product in the marketplace, more potential revenue is lost. Keeping track of ship date variance not only helps you measure how high (or low) the bar is, but how much potential there is for immediate improvement. At this point, you can take action by alerting your stakeholders to why they need to be more on the ball with the approval process, and project an ROI from your proposed improvement efforts.
4. Rejection Reasons:
Are you either getting tackled, sacked, or fouled by the defense or committing fumbles and incompletions? What’s in your way? Capturing why artwork and labels are rejected will give you insight. You can analyze the reasons: are they legitimate, or are they arbitrary judgment calls setting you back? Which rejection reasons are more frequent? Perhaps there are patterns in the process as to why rejections are happening. All of this information helps you prioritize business problems.
3. Cycle Time:
This is the time that elapses from the beginning of the project to the completion of one round of review. When you know how long cycles are taking, you can hone in on ways to shorten cycle times. For example, maybe you give people a goal for improving the team’s cycle time. Making sure they complete their tasks in a reasonable amount of time is just one way in which cycle time can be shortened. (Thank goodness there is no play clock in packaging approvals. But wait, this deserves some exploration…)
2. Number of Cycles:
How many downs do you need to get to the end zone? How many times do you have to send the same file for review after making the requested changes? 1? 2? 8? Each cycle represents agency and graphic design costs and adds time to the process. There are ways to decrease the number of cycles and once you do, you will notice a multiplying effect in terms of time saved.
1. Right First Time:
One and done is the Super Bowl trophy of efficiency and the goal toward which your team should be rushing. When it’s accomplished, you’ve reached the height of excellence in the approval process. While it seems hard to achieve, you will get there when you master the art of creating the right brief and tracking patterns in the reasons why some projects are rejected. Getting it right the first time is a team effort. Okay, break on three!