Streamlining Your Approval Process

Haybrooke’s CEO writes in a provocative but truthful way in his series of articles about price and the broader problems with the print industry. Perhaps other printers should also look at methods of improving their efficiencies whilst also incorporating added value and client focussed tools that make the entire process of printing, from the creative through the approval process and into the final output.

One common point of contention and friction between a client and their printer is the approval process. This necessity has slipped through the cracks when it comes to simplifying the process. What is needed is an iron clad way to make the artwork approval process a seamless and less arduous exercise for the client and the supplier.

The Scenario:

After multiple proof amendments, and a lot of client rejections, the final artwork version has been signed off, but has the account handler or pre-press operative extracted the correct file from your long and convoluted email trail??

  • How many people are involved? 
  • Has the right person signed it off? 
  • Was the process convoluted and inefficient?
  • The approval process delayed the job and now you are fire fighting to meet deadline?
  • Which version are we working to; was if controlled?
  • Ultimately, the wrong file has been printed and a dispute is pending.

Does this all sound familiar to you?

When a costly mistake occurs, it is often when multiple people are involved, and the approval process has been fractured and often over email.  Who ultimately ends up getting the blame when the wrong print file is printed? Often it is assumed that the printer is at fault. Whether rightly or wrongly the printer just wants to ensure that the client is happy and will endeavour to correct whatever process has broken down and often reprints the job at their own cost or suffers loss through reprint at ‘cost’ as a gesture of goodwill.

A fully audited trail of the entire approval process would be ideal, somewhere you can review the entire approval process of each specific job. Detailing from first proof uploaded, to who made amendments to amended versions, and who signed off the final document.  

So what solutions exist to mitigate these problems?

1 – Use a SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP).

This is one solution for secure transfer but the initial set up requires authentication by the server over a secure channel with locked down IP addresses and the involvement of your IT department to set it up – this costs both time and money and your clients just don’t have time to wait for this.  It is a safe method but the ability to view proofs on various devices from anywhere is not an option, because of the secure channel process SFTP requires.  And not really an ideal way for managing many projects nor for version control.  

2 -Dropbox or similar file transfer sites:

Are a convenient and easy way to share files. However, it is not the best if multiple users are using it. For example, if two users are editing a file at the same time, whoever saves it the last, is the version that will be saved by Dropbox.  The other person’s version will be lost.  Security is also a negative with Dropbox, as there is no secure encryption as Dropbox doesn’t provide for client-side encryption. Dropbox also doesn’t support the creation of your own private keys.

It would be far better if Dropbox had some sort of version control, where all versions are stored, streamlining the approval process so that you can always revert back to the previous version if necessary, and indeed keep track of what had changed should you need to. One place for all proofs, not on multiple systems, and with only authorised individuals able to approve. This would eliminate approval disputes by streamlining the client approval process, and subsequently avoiding costly mistakes for all. 

Transfer sites also tend towards deletion of files after a limited time to save storage space, not good for future reviews if needed in a dispute.

3 – Approval Pipeline

This is an industry specific software tool developed by Systematic Marketing. Approval Pipeline, provides a simple way to avoid all this unnecessary complexity for all parties. Providing control of the process from start to finish, with a fully audited trail visible to all parties.

The platform streamlines the print approval process. Working by both client and folder based projects where you can define who can give feedback and who has the final approval. All comments and amendment requests are stored so that it is easy to denote where a decision has been made and who signed off what. A simple dashboard provides an overview of the current approval status of a customer’s complete portfolio of projects.

The client or printer simply uploads the file(s) to be used and subsequently approved for each project. Users are notified and can log in securely from a simple link to leave their comments and either approve or reject the proof. Notifications and reminders get sent automatically and the printer receives an alert when the customer responds.  Software to fit the print business. 

Approval Pipeline™ provides streamlined, secure communication that meets both the client and supplier needs making the approval process a more enjoyable process.

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