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5 Signs you’re Ready for Online Proofing Technology

By BLUE Software

Label and packaging artwork is usually subjected to multiple reviews before anyone says the magic word: “print,” and this review process is often an expensive, time consuming, and frustrating undertaking.  Why?  Label and packaging artwork reviews typically include a wide range of people both inside and outside of the organization.  For example, a single label change to an existing product could include reviews from marketing, legal, regulatory, operations, agencies, printers, etc.  And then there are the “approvers,” who may include executives, sales, and other partners.  With so many functions involved in the review process, there are multiple hand-offs… and with so many hand-offs, the review process can be chaotic.  Feedback may be returned via multiple channels (phone calls, email trails, handwritten scribbles…), which impedes momentum and encourages errors.

 Overcome Label and Packaging Artwork Review Challenges with Online Proofing Technology

There’s a simple solution for getting label and packaging artwork reviewed and approved quickly without compromising quality: online proofing technology.  With online proofing technology in a Label and Artwork Management solution, you can share large digital asset files online with multiple team members, agencies, and printers – in any file format, and from any device.  And you can capture feedback on those files at the point of handoff in a single online tool.  You streamline the approval process and create a record of all feedback history.

Despite these benefits, however, we understand you may not be sure whether you really need online proofing tools and technology.  You might not think your current process is “as bad as they say,” or you might think now isn’t the right time.  It’s easy to postpone purchase decisions until the next budget cycle… until the next hiring cycle… or after the next product launch.  But every day you wait to implement an online proofing solution could translate into one less day your product is on the store shelf.  Translation: one less day of revenue.

Here are five signs you’re ready for online proofing technology now.

#1: Feedback takes place in the inbox: For label and packaging artwork creators and project managers alike, prompt feedback keeps the review process moving. It achieves improvements and enables decisions. But how can team members efficiently review stakeholders’ feedback when the average employee receives more than 120 emails a day?  Can you ensure all feedback has been seen in the midst of this inbox traffic?  And how do you avoid duplicate (or conflicting) feedback when one reviewer’s comments are isolated from another’s?

With online proofing, review and approval conversations occur outside of the email inbox, giving you a fluid, accessible process.  Everyone can see the latest 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.

#2: Feedback is ambiguous and ineffective: Feedback that lacks context and specificity usually requires additional email and hallway conversations for clarification. This constant context-switching (from asset… to email… to hallway… and back again) slows projects and invites errors.

Online proofing makes it easier for your team members to provide timely, effective feedback. Reviewers receive a secure link to proofs with integrated annotation and commenting tools, enabling them to markup content and designs with specific, context-rich comments while engaging other users in the feedback process.  This feedback becomes action items for the team, keeping the review process moving forward.   

#3: You have “version sprawl:” A weak method for collecting feedback can create ripple effects throughout the label and packaging artwork delivery process. One of these ripple effects is “version sprawl” – the production of new versions based on feedback that wasn’t supported or challenged (or in most cases, even seen by other team members). Pretty soon, every project has a version numbered in double digits.

Online proofing not only improves the quality of feedback, it also catalogs the feedback across versions. Specifically, online proofing technology helps manage versions as they are created.  It also provides a comparison tool to view versions side by side, a proof-positive way to ensure changes are made. This can drastically reduce the number of artwork cycles.   

#4: Compliance is an everyday requirement: For many industries, label and packaging artwork needs to meet strict compliance requirements, which can be both internally (i.e., brand compliance) and externally (i.e., disclosures) mandated. The risks of noncompliance can be significant – lost customer confidence, financial penalties, and legal liabilities, to name a few.  Not to mention the cost of the re-work to follow!

Effective online proofing technology can help teams demonstrate the control they have over their review and approval process.  First, all comments are logged and archived, tied to specific versions of each proof.  Second, the teams associated with each project are notified regularly of all new feedback, keeping everyone on the same page. Also, online proofing technology in a Label and Artwork Management solution supports rigorous roles-based access control, which can limit team members’ access to particular proofs and control what they can do with them.

#5: You have a lack of coordination with external teams: If your label and packaging artwork process includes external team members (printers, suppliers, or agencies, for example), coordinating with them can pose challenges.  Your agency might use Skype and you use Slack.  You rely on Basecamp, the printer uses Asana.

When adding more people to a process, it’s best practice to reduce the number of variables across stakeholders. In label and packaging artwork reviews, this means ensuring everyone is reviewing the right content at the right time, and with the right information.  Online proofing technology reduces these variables by providing a consistent presentation of the content being reviewed.  You guarantee everyone is reviewing the right asset, regardless of their location or device. It also ensures everyone has the same guidance, such as past versions and comments, to understand how an asset reached its current state.  

The Right Time Is Now

If even one of the challenges described above feels familiar, now is the right time to learn more about how Label and Artwork Management software with online proofing technology can improve your review and approval processes.  Download our e-book: Boost the Bottom Line by Streamlining Package Design.