Developing product packaging is a challenging task requiring numerous steps and collaborators. A simple labeling change often takes weeks to get finalized, while creating a new one can take months. Brands need strong communication between internal departments such as Marketing, Graphics, Branding, Legal, Distribution, as well as with local offices and supply chain departments when creating new packaging.
Product packaging does not only contain the product but also communicates essential information to the end-user. Errors in the packaging are usually quite expensive, leading to product recalls and even lawsuits. Hence, artwork development requires multiple people to pitch in and contribute. The design goes through multiple feedback iterations involving people inside and outside the brand.
For packaging artwork development, collaboration is indispensable. The product packaging contains a wide range of information. It communicates the brand value and image, provides product information, consumer safety information and the packaging design directly impacts the brand’s bottom line.
- Different people work on different areas of the packaging. While the design team creates the printable layout, the brand and marketing team creates the logos and graphics. Text for information panels and others are supplied by other departments.
- Artwork development requires numerous iterations. Once the design teams create a draft, all the stakeholders will review it and provide feedback. The designers will try incorporating all the feedback. The iteration process requires constant communication between all the teams.
- Brands need to meet deadlines to be ahead of their competition. Hence, every stakeholder must have a clear idea of who needs to do what and by when.
Bringing people on the same page is a challenging task, especially when it involves people both inside and outside the company. Furthermore, brands have multiple label development projects running in parallel. Here are some key challenges faced by brands when they are trying to work together.
#1. Use of legacy and incompatible platforms
Most brands stick to spreadsheets and emails for communication and sharing. A few forward-thinking brands often make use of productivity and collaboration software like Teams or Slack. However, they do not meet the requirements that packaging artwork management. Moreover, people often use multiple channels to communicate making it difficult for all stakeholders to keep track of the communication.
#2. Gathering Feedback across multiple channels
Project managers should gather feedback from various reviewers and share that with the designers. Here, the key issue lies with the way reviewers share the feedback. The reviewers share their comments over emails, telephone calls, online meets or chat messages. Gathering feedback and maintaining a cohesive list can be a challenging task.
#3. Lack of visibility
Project managers have little visibility on the progress of the project. Often, they will have to ping the designer or the reviewer to know their progress. With multiple projects running, this becomes difficult for managers.
#4. No proper workflow management
An issue with assigning tasks with simple spreadsheets and productivity tools is that managing the workflow becomes challenging. Any project will have bottlenecks and setbacks. Incorporating them in legacy project management tools can be tedious. The entire process is error-prone, creates additional process bottlenecks, and lacks compliance.
#5. Security of digital assets
Managers need to share digital assets, which often include confidential documents without any additional security beyond passwords. There is no way to revoke access once the work is done. With emails and cloud storage, there is little option for access control of digital assets. Furthermore, they lack options such as file versioning and backups. Check out Best Practices for Secure Artwork File Sharing
Artwork management tools extend traditional project management tools with all the features a brand would need to design and deliver artwork within the deadline while satisfying all the regulatory compliance needs. Here is how you can enable efficient teamwork in your workflow.
#1. A unified platform for communication and asset sharing
A key feature of artwork management platforms is how they unify all the communications under a single umbrella. This includes the initial communication with the design team as well as providing them with feedback over time. The manager creates a project and invites all the stakeholders to the platform. The manager also assigns roles, tasks, and deadlines. From there onwards, the entire development process and the relevant communication take place in the platform. Since most artwork management platforms are hosted on the cloud, there is little need for the brand to invest in IT infrastructure.
#2. Complete visibility and efficient workflow management
Artwork management platforms come with a dashboard that shows the progress of all the ongoing projects. Managers can see which projects are progressing well, which ones are delayed, or which projects have a risk of being delayed.
Managers can have a look at which stage the project is stuck and directly contact the person who is responsible. With an artwork management platform, managers can assign tasks and deadlines, so everyone has an idea of what to do and by when.
#3. Simplified feedback management
Managers assign checklists to reviewers so everyone can provide feedback on specific areas of the packaging. This system prevents overlapping and contradictory feedback. Furthermore, reviewers can provide annotated feedback directly on the design file from within the platform itself. They can also comment on the checklists. All the feedback from the stakeholders is forwarded automatically to the manager.
#4. Improved feedback quality
Reviewers have a specialized tool to ensure that they can provide concise yet comprehensive feedback. Artwork management platforms provide tools like a color extractor, font finder, measurement scale, spell checker, and more. It also comes with tools to highlight subtle differences between two PDF files.
#5. Secured asset sharing
Assets are shared as a part of a project and access can be revoked once the project is over. Permissions have a higher level of granularity in these platforms. Managers can assign read or write access based on roles. Furthermore, artwork management platforms preserve an older version of the files to prevent accidental overwrites or to track changes.
#6. Increase accountability through audit trails
When working with multiple people, every member needs to be responsible for the role they take up. With audit trails, managers can see if any team member is stuck with a certain problem or made an error during the project. It allows managers to trace the problem back to its root. Audit trails also encourage all team members to be accountable for their actions.
Enabling teamwork in legacy workflow systems can be hard. Emails and spreadsheets do not satisfy the collaborative requirements while modern project management tools do not have all the features out of the box to help with product packaging development. Hence, artwork management tools are indispensable for modern packaging projects. Click here to try out Artwork Flow for FREE.