Overcome 15 Challenges In Graphic Production Workflow With Just One Tool

See how companies like LEGO overcame these challenges and slashed production time by 35%

What comes to mind when you hear LEGO and graphic production?

If you’re a project manager, designer, marketer, or anyone involved in the graphic production, your head is probably already spinning as you multiply the steps required by the plethora of materials to be produced: packaging, catalogs, instruction manuals, in-store graphics, and more.

A slew of stakeholders in multiple departments from all over the world need to review and approve design files before they go into production. The process could take up 60-80% of the total production time.

For project managers, the complexity translates into many things that could go wrong: missed emails, miscommunications, version control issues, security concerns, and more.

LEGO, of course, wasn’t immune to all these challenges. If anything, these problems were more prominent with the large number of projects, stakeholders, and vendors involved.

Traditional Proofing Process Is Cumbersome, Inefficient, and Error-Prone
– and What You Can Do To Fix It!

Before we tell you how LEGO managed to optimize their workflow and reduce production time by 35% for over 100,000 projects, we need to understand the inefficiencies in traditional proofing process and how they can be addressed:

Slow and Cumbersome Workflow
Did you know that one revision takes an average of 18 emails exchanges between just a designer, project manager, and client?

Now multiply that by the number of revisions required by all the projects you’re handling…

Traditional proofing process relies on documents emailed back and forth among designers, project managers, and other stakeholders.

A lot of time can pass between sending the email, waiting for each party to open the email, taking the time to compose a response, and passing it to the next person in the process.

The workflow is cumbersome. It can get held up for days if just one stakeholder misses an email.

Not only are deadlines jeopardized, but resources may also end up sitting on the bench because feedback isn’t received in a timely manner.

Fix it:
Speed up your proofing process with a centralized platform that allows you to automate your workflow.

You can prevent the process from being held up just because someone in the team forgets to send an email. Relevant stakeholders will be notified automatically when it’s their turn to review a document.

Project managers can check on the project status anytime and alert anyone who needs to take action so nothing falls through the cracks.

“Design Speak” Lost In Translation

It’s often challenging and frustrating to comment on visual design in written format, especially for those without design training.

Designers may use language that are too technical. Clients may misuse terms that lead to massive misunderstanding.Project managers are often stuck as a go-between.

It’s challenging to make sure that nothing gets misinterpreted along the way.

Fix it:
To minimize communication issues, get a gauge on the reviewers’ knowledge in graphic design, and make sure you clearly communicate expectations upfront.

Use a proofing tool that allows stakeholders to directly comment on the visuals to minimize misunderstanding.

Conflicting Feedback

It’s frustrating for many project managers when different client contacts chime in during the proofing process with conflicting comments.

Not only do the project managers have to go through multiple emails from different stakeholders to collate feedback, but they also get stuck in the middle of trying to resolve contradicting input.

Fix it:
Increase the transparency of your proofing process. Allow everyone involved to see the comments in real-time. Resolve conflicting input more efficiently to reduce the rounds of revisions required.

If you’re managing client relationships, set expectations upfront. Request the client to appoint one designated contact who will resolve all conflicting comments before posting consolidated feedback.

Version Control Nightmare

Every time a designer creates a PDF from an InDesign file and emails it out, there’s one more version of the design being circulated.

It’s most frustrating when project managers discover, after all the stakeholders have sent in their comments or approval, that they’ve been reviewing different versions of the design!

Not to mention, it’s extremely inefficient when you have to search an overfilled inbox for revision history or download all the circulated PDFs to compare versions.

Unfortunately, such mishaps aren’t uncommon. They often set back product timeline by days or even weeks.

Fix it:
Use a cloud-based proofing platform to ensure everything is in sync, and everyone is reviewing the latest version.

Choose a platform that integrates with InDesign so you can directly link up a file. You no longer have to save and upload PDFs every time a change occurs. You can be certain that clients are seeing the latest version anytime they log in.

Designers As the Bottleneck

More often than not, designers are assigned to different projects and aren’t on standby to make changes the moment they’re requested.

It’s maddening to have production held up just because you need to wait for a designer to correct a small typo in an InDesign file.

Fix it:
Use a web proofing platform that allows you to make changes in InDesign. Then anyone with access can make the necessary corrections.

Lack Of Resource Flexibility

It’s easy to get into panic mode if you’re on a tight deadline and the designer calls in sick.

When all the knowledge on a project and the revision history is living in the head of one designer, you could find yourself in a bind if he’s unavailable due to unforeseeable circumstances.

Having your production timeline held up isn’t your only worry. You also have to spend a lot of time ramping up another designer to fill in and complete the work.

Fix it:
Have all your design history logged in one centralized platform so anyone can access the client notes and correction history associated with a project.

Team members can get up to speed quickly and effortlessly so you don’t have to miss critical deadlines.

The Dilemma of “Micromanaging”

As a project owner or project manager, you want to know exactly where your project is.

But you also know how annoying and unproductive it is to breathe down everyone’s neck all the time.

Not to mention, you may be tired of getting the same old “almost there” answer every time but have no visibility into what that “almost there” really means!

Fix it:
Track the progress of all your projects in one place. Use a web-based proofing platform that allows you to see the status of every project in real time.

In one glance, you’ll know what needs attention and what has been approved without having to open a single document. You’ll know exactly where everything is without hovering over anyone’s shoulder.

Security Concerns

Cyber attacks are on the rise. Hackers are increasingly targeting corporations instead of individuals for valuable information.

With so many parties involved in a proofing and production process, often spread across multiple companies and locations, email isn’t a secure method for file sharing and communication.

You don’t have control over client, partner, or vendor email security protocol. Not to mention, the “bring your own device” trend makes it virtually impossible to maintain security on every device your employees use to access emails.

It only takes one person to open one malicious link in one email to get your files and data compromised.

Fix it:
Stop sharing files over email. Use a cloud-based platform with the highest level of security certification to keep your files and information from prying eyes.

For instance, Webproof is one of the few SaaS companies that have obtained the prestigious ISO 27001 Security Certification for both its software and cloud hosting. In addition, it uses Amazon Web Services as the cloud center to ensure users are getting the most up-to-date protection against cyber attacks.

Billing For Additional Revisions

Out of scope revisions impact budget and timeline. Yet, many clients are unaware of the impact until they see the bill.

It’s unpleasant to get stuck in a “he-says, she-says” situation over an invoice. Not to mention, these conversations aren’t conducive to cultivating a smooth working relationships with your clients.

Fix it:
Keep tab of all the change requests in one place. Print out a record of all out-of-scope revisions to use as supplemental material in the invoice.

This will not only help you keep the conversation professional but also make sure you get paid faster.

Chained To the Computer

Many web proofing applications are available on desktop only. When viewed on mobile, those sites are slow, cumbersome, and inefficient to use.

In addition, zip files sent over emails can’t be viewed on mobile devices.

As a result, review and approval processes often get delayed if a stakeholder is unable to get to a computer.

Not to mention, if you’re meeting a client outside of your office without access to a computer, you’ll have to carry a huge stack of printouts, write down all the comments, and then transcribe the notes and scribbles onto your proofing software when you get back to the office.

Fix it:
Use a cloud-based proofing software with a robust mobile app designed from the ground up for smartphones and tablets. This allows anyone involved in the project to get real-time notifications, review documents, share comments, and approve designs from anywhere with an Internet connection.

Craning Your Neck For Packaging Design

Package designs often have many sides facing different directions. It’s inconvenient and inefficient having to crane your neck every time you need to review a design.

If you use a proofing mechanism that allows users to rotate the images and leave notes, be sure those notes rotate and move with the design.

Otherwise, your designers will be left wasting time deciphering through a bunch of jumbled notes.

Fix it:
Most proofing software does have a “sticky note” function, but are they really sticky?

Use a web proofing software that allows reviewers to rotate a design and has a robust sticky note feature to ensure that all the comments stay in place, no matter what orientation the file is viewed.

Complicated Approval Process

It’s inefficient to have production held up because someone has to make her way back to the computer and go through a lengthy process just to sign off on a design.

Unfortunately, project owners often become a bottleneck in the approval process because they’re on-the-go.

Fix it:
Some clients may not understand how a slight delay on their part may impact the production timeline. Take the time to educate your clients, communicate timeline, and set expectations.

Appoint one stakeholder to make final approvals to avoid miscommunications and complications. Automate the workflow so this person gets a link when all the revisions are made and ready for approval.

Simplify the approval process so it can be done via a mobile app with just a few taps and swipes.

Getting Lost In Numerous Projects

For project managers or owners who are juggling a large number of projects, it’s challenging to keep track of the progress of each one.

Tracking down the design team for each project just to get an update is time-consuming. If you have too many balls in the air it’s easy for a few things to fall through the cracks.

Fix it:
Use a centralized platform on which you can manage workflow and track progress so you can know precisely where each project is in real-time: page by page, project by project.

Publishing Hoops

In a traditional proofing process, having the final design approved isn’t the end.

High-res files need to be sent to printers, while digital files have to be properly formatted and uploaded.

This adds another layer to the process and more chances that hiccups could happen.

Fix it:
What if your proofing and workflow software takes care of publishing for you?

What if, with just a click of your mouse, you could preflight and send high-resolution files to the printer, upload the new magazine to the app store, and create a 3D page-flip PDF that can feature videos, everything automatically?

Webproof’s publishing capabilities make all of these, and more, possible.

Catalog Groundhog Day

Producing weekly or monthly catalogs, and flyers with hundreds of SKUs, is a tedious process to repeat week in week out.

Not only is it not a good use of your team’s time but a manual process is also error-prone.

Fix it:
Use a workflow software that automates production process through InDesign server and XML integration with your ERP software. This will drastically reduce the time and manpower required for the layout and proofing process.

How LEGO Slashed Production Time By 35% For 150,000 Projects Every Year

Let’s go back to LEGO, which was facing a myriad of project management pains in their graphic production process.

They’ve found one single solution — the painkiller that solved all their graphic production challenges.

They were able to reduce production time by 35%, meet their deadlines, and revolutionize their production process with Webproof — a proofing and workflow optimization software:

  • Their 3,000 users are no longer dependent on email to track projects. Instead, workflow is automated. Relevant team members are contacted when it’s their turn to review, comment, and approve. People no longer have to deal with overfilled email inboxes and fewer things are falling through the cracks.
  • Their teams no longer have to spend time worrying about version control or looking for revision history. Every iteration of a project is right there on the platform for quick and easy reference.
  • The cloud-based software and mobile application allow LEGO’s team to work from anywhere using any device with an Internet connection. Comments can be shared and approval can be given on time.
  • Project managers can now see everything on their plate on a centralized dashboard with a project-by-project and page-by-page overview. They no longer get lost in a sea of projects. They know exactly where every project is and what needs to get done. They don’t have to track down individual team members and breathe down their necks.
  • The mobile app allows teams to make comments directly on the platform no matter where they are. Gone are the days of taking  notes on a stack of printouts only to transcribe them later.
  • Sensitive information is no longer shared via email. Instead, every file or document is stored in a centralized server that meets the highest security standards and carries the ISO 27001 Security Certification.

 

LEGO Isn’t the Only One…

Every year, companies use Webproof to streamline their workflow and proofing process:

  • A media group that creates 10,000 – 20,000 ads each month leverages Webproof’s automation features to reduce the total number of people handling all the files to just 4
  • ICA produces 1,000 different twelve-page catalogs per month. They optimize workflow with Webproof and save $ 300,000 annually
  • Silvan automated their catalog production using Webproof’s XML integration with their ERP software. They can now produce their weekly 48-page catalog in just 30 minutes, reducing production time by 14 days

 

Every year, 5 million pages are approved through half a million logins from over 100,000 users in more than 100 countries on Webproof.

Experience Webproof to see how brands like H&M, Toys”R”Us, Audi, VW, and more are streamlining their workflow and getting rid of graphic production headaches.

Sources

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/protect-yourself-from-email-hacking-cyber-threats/

https://www.virtru.com/blog/email-security-2/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhx_RFXvrM0

http://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/87016-bring-your-own-risk-with-byod