How To Solve Inefficient Agency Proofing Processes

How To Solve Inefficient Agency Proofing Processes

Most agencies lack a clear, defined workflow and procedure for sharing, proofing, and approving creative. Not to mention what they do have is often loosely organized or far too complicated.

When sharing files and handling feedback, agencies often spread their efforts across a variety of disconnected channels; emails, slack, phone calls, physical printouts, in-person meetings. Without a clear, documented workflow in an online proofing tool, each project ends up having its own confusing production flow.

As you can imagine, this can cause all kinds of challenges for those tangled in the project, whether internal teams, freelancers, clients, or partners. Gathering feedback and tracking projects ends up being a chaotic, confusing free-for-all of comments, change requests, and new versions.

Amid the mess, it's easy for mistakes to happen. Missed deadlines, mixed up versions, and disgruntled clients become more common than we'd like to admit.

Often the real underlying issue is not a lack of collaboration tools, as most agencies utilize a range of tools like Slack, Asana, or Trello. The real culprit is not having the right online proofing tool for the job. The truth is, basic project management tools only go so far, and most agencies butt heads with their limitations daily.

Over time the impact of these inefficient review and approval processes becomes obvious. Every delay or mistake ripples through your agency and is felt by your creative team, project managers, and, eventually, your clients.

What is less obvious to many agencies is how their inadequate proofing and approval workflow impacts their project costs and overheads as a whole.

Measuring and understanding the cost of a campaign is easy because you can see every expense along the way. The costs of designing the graphics, writing the copy, and spending on advertising are clear for all to see. But they’re only a drop in the bucket…

More often than not, agencies forget to take into consideration the cost of the labor and resources that went on behind the scenes. If you look closely, you'll likely find that you're losing loads of money to inefficiencies in your production workflow, communication, client management, and even the tools you use. All of which we'll dive into below.

Your Team Have Less Time For Income-Generating Activities

As an agency, the only task that generates income is billing your clients for creative work and project work. Time spent on anything outside of that is time and money wasted. So, if your review and approval process stinks, you're going to spend less time on billable tasks.

Some examples of this are:

  • Time spent chasing feedback and approvals across channels, applications, and threads distract your team, which costs you money.
  • Time spent finding and managing changes and versions in email or other unsuitable applications is time wasted.
  • Time spent searching for files and resources is time wasted, or reformatting files that weren't uploaded or exported the first time correctly is time that you could have been spending on billable tasks.
  • Time spent in scrolling through email threads, finding conversations, and answering questions that could have been automated with the right tool is time wasted.

You Lose Money Unnecessarily To Unhappy Clients

There's only so much you can do to protect your clients and the revenue they provide from the inefficiencies of your business. Most of the time, a delay or mistake in the proofing process ends up affecting the project. Missed deadlines, low quality work, and poor customer experience all lead to lost revenue.

Some examples of this are:

  • Delayed deliverables are the most obvious side-effect of a poor production workflow. If you allow the chaos behind-the-scenes to be seen by clients too often, they'll either expect you to make it up to them in the form of discounts, or they'll stop doing business with you altogether. Not to mention these issues create more work for your account managers too.
  • Broken contracts are not something you want to have too many of. As you know, failing to deliver on time regularly will tarnish your reputation and hurt your bottom-line. This is something you do not want in a market full of competitors ready to replace you. Not only does this cost you a client, but it can also cost you referrals.
  • Vendor costs are a commonly overlooked expense that can add up over time. If you work with partners or third-party vendors and change the scope or timeline of a project, you’ll likely run into additional costs. These can be large or small costs, depending on what you’re doing. Either way, they're worth considering.

You Spend More On Labor Costs

The most obvious impact of an inefficient proofing process is an increase in labor costs. Without the right tools, processes, and controls in place, you'll end up spending more on labor than expected, which eats up your profitability.

Some examples of this are:

  • Unplanned overtime usually happens when an inefficiency in your review and approval process leads to unanticipated revisions. In these situations, teams have to work overtime to meet deadlines, which adds unexpected expenses to projects. If you're working with freelancers, the cost is usually far greater as they charge premiums for rush projects and overtime.
  • Increased churn is a common issue when agencies promise staff creative work and then ask them to spend all day putting out fires caused by inefficient workflows and project management. As you know, any time and resources spent training an employee are lost when they leave. You’ll also lose money in the process of finding and training someone to fill their position.

You Waste Money On Excess Tech

Most of the time, when agencies try to organize their review and approval workflow, they end up using a complex stack of tools that each meet a need or two. If apps were free, this wouldn't be as serious of an issue, but apps cost money, which means the more you integrate, the more you pay.

Some examples of this are:

  • Overlapping the same tools is a common mistake that we see agencies making. Often, when no workflow or tools are set across the board, each arm of an agency will have integrated their own solution. In many cases, an agency may be paying multiple subscription costs for each department, rather than having them all in one subscription. Even if an app is relatively cheap, your tech budget can still balloon beyond expectations once you add up these expenses across the organization as a whole.
  • Integrating more tools than you need is also a great way to skyrocket your tech budget. Trying to patch everything together and pass information back and forth between all your tools is not only a challenge but will cost you a lot in subscriptions and IT labor costs.

Moral of The Story?

The 'hidden' cost of inefficiencies in your workflows like chasing down approvals or lost projects can, and does, have a significant impact on the efficiency, productivity, and profitability of your agency.

When considering other solutions, you may think the time and planning required to design and implement a solution would be far greater then the problem is worth. In our experience, this is rarely the case.

Even if your agency is relatively small, the time and money you’ll save from an improved production workflow will outweigh the cost of implementing the solution. In reality, online proofing solutions are one of the most cost-effective tools in your marketing technology stack.

Ready For A Better Way?

If you’re feeling the pressure of your inefficient workflow and processes weighing down on you, WebProof can help. Our solution takes the hassle out of following the status of projects, collaborating with stakeholders, leaving feedback, and getting approvals.

Best of all, the results of implementing WebProof are far greater than the cost. Don’t just take our word for it though…

As Dennis Nielsen, the CEO of Phoenix Design Aid, said, "We have reduced time spent on proofing by up to 50%. We've also achieved other valuable benefits since WebProof's workflow enables all involved to follow the document process – everybody is always up-to-date."

Optimize Your Agency Workflow Today

To learn more about WebProof or to sign up for a free trial of the app, please visit our site.

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