Artwork management for packaging often demands balancing hundreds or more projects simultaneously, each with numerous variations to consider. And too often, the legacy method of managing these projects either bogs down stakeholders or is overly reliant on time-consuming manual approaches with physical documents, Excel spreadsheets, emails, pdfs, and more.
These legacy approaches are a recipe for disaster and waste time, often leading to poor visibility, bottlenecks, inconsistencies, human errors, and a plethora of other issues that delay time to market and incur extra costs. Of course, this also presents an increased risk of a recall or the need to reprint and reship items, should an error occur.
Introducing modern solutions for packaging artwork management can change everything. But, before implementing any new technology, it’s vital to pinpoint where challenges exist in the first place. To put this in perspective, I’ve listed two of the most common problems below.
Problem #1: Do you lose productivity jumping between programs?
It’s not unusual for organizations – especially larger companies – to use multiple programs simultaneously to manage an artwork project. For instance, product or print operations teams may find they are using both Google Docs and Excel to track progress, or alternatively, teams may frequently shift from Adobe to email to approve the artwork.
Navigating between various programs for Artwork Management often makes it more difficult to find the most recent artwork, or it may mean having to spend hours working through several email chains to finalize reviews. Such a process not only wastes time but also makes it hard to see who changed what and when, which can lead to many confusing mix-ups – like teams working off wrong-versioned or incomplete documents.
Problem #2: Does a Lack of Visibility Cause Delays?
If a team juggling many projects is reliant on spreadsheets and other manual approaches, they’ll likely face undue hardships when scheduling packaging artwork and product releases. Even if you attempt to color-code or use other means to organize your Excel files and data, teams will likely encounter a lack of consistency, human error, or insufficient time to keep documents updated manually.
A lack of visibility will then mean leaders can’t see where all the necessary elements of a packaging pipeline are, especially when they are needed most. For example, one department might be performing work on time, but another division, like the legal department, might be struggling to keep pace with approving images and copy. Or there might be external parties, such as printers or designers, that need more time.
Furthermore, a lack of visibility can quickly lead to bottlenecks when workflows and deadlines aren’t clearly communicated across teams and individuals. In many cases, visibility is the key to accountability.
If the product packaging team can’t see the status of workflows, projects, and stakeholders, bottlenecks may not be fixed. This ultimately leads to unexpected delays that could have easily been prevented.
Solution: Modernizing Artwork Management
Organizations can reduce the time spent managing artwork by using an automated and centralized approach with full workflow visibility and stakeholder accountability. This can be accomplished using a dedicated Artwork Management system that is easily accessed via cloud across different facilities and integrated with existing systems.
For starters, an automated Artwork Management system can reduce the need to switch between different emails, pdfs, spreadsheets and other programs. Instead, all the required documents and artwork can be stored in one, centralized location where changes and versions are automatically tracked for the user. This alone can end version control nightmares, helping teams regain control of their assets while eliminating rework.
Another benefit of a centralized Artwork Management system is that it can enable users to see detailed info about each task they own, helping to speed time to completion. Improved visibility also empowers stakeholders to more easily manage and track packaging artwork development and approvals faster in one program.
Once data is aggregated in one location, automation can also be applied to effortlessly improve workflows. For instance, some systems can leverage data in real-time to intelligently perform tasks like generating critical paths and workflows, or identifying which projects are at risk of running late.
Proofing and version control can also become simpler when using a dedicated Artwork Management system. For example, a modern solution can automatically track all changes in one place to reduce content approval times. Users can also instantly compare various versions of documents or art to see even the smallest changes. This can go as far as using a program that automatically shows any text or graphical alterations between all versions, which can help ensure only the proper, requested changes are accepted before printing.
Don’t Put Off Modernizing Artwork Management
Though often overlooked, Artwork Management plays a vital role in ensuring the right physical presentation of a product is delivered on time effectively. Additionally, it can play a pivotal role in ensuring packages are compliant for heavily regulated industries.
Make no mistake, anything that gets between packaging artwork professionals and their duties can create enormous challenges for an entire business. This is why digitally transforming Artwork Management and utilizing the latest automated approaches can be vital to decrease complexity, improve control and regulatory compliance and, ultimately, reduce costs and time to market.
Global Artwork & Packaging Solutions Executive, Loftware
Troy brings over 20 years of experience in the global packaging and technology sector to his role as Global Artwork & Packaging Solutions Executive at Loftware. Before joining Loftware, Troy spent over 10 years in senior management positions with two ground-breaking SaaS start-ups in the packaging and Artwork Management space. Over that time, Troy has gained extensive industry expertise, working with clients such as Eli Lilly, Estee Lauder, Costco Wholesale, Chevron, Microsoft, Bacardi Global Brands, Beam Suntory, Kroger, Loblaws, J&J Ethicon, Premier Nutrition, Heineken USA, and Hain Celestial, to name a few. At Loftware, Troy enjoys helping brands, retailers, and pharmaceutical organizations increase the efficiency of their product and packaging lifecycle processes with Smartflow, Loftware’s industry-leading label & Artwork Management solution.
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