Another common problem with the process of gaining customer approval is keeping track of which proof is the latest version. As we have already seen, the approval process can get very complex when dealing with larger customers who have many concurrent projects and several people involved in the decision-making.
Not only can it get confusing as to what feedback has been given by whom, but it can be easy for the customer to get in a muddle as to which is the latest version of the proof, even when the printer uses version numbers as part of the file name. It can also be difficult for the customer to see what has changed from the previous version. Keeping track of the latest document can be hard enough, let alone being able to compare how the proof has changed since the last edit.
You are probably already using some kind of numbering for your proofs. I recommend going one stage further and having a file naming convention that can easily identify the client, the project, and the version number. The naming convention should not just be an internal code. It should also make sense to the customer.
Instead of emailing files, use a file sharing system like Google Drive or Dropbox and send the customer a link to the file. Make sure you plan the directory structure so that you have one for each customer and then sub-folders for each customer project. The system should have the ability to restrict access so that customers have ‘read access’ and they can only see the specific files that have been allocated to them.
The benefit of this approach is that all versions of the proofs will be there and it will be clear which file is the latest version. When you send out email notifications, you would no longer need to send copies of files. You just send links to the directory where the files are stored. You would still need to control how feedback is submitted, as discussed above, but at least there will be no confusion about versions.
Approval Pipeline™ takes care of the management of versions and makes it easy for the printer to manage customer access to the right version. Customers can see all of the documents in the same place along with feedback, which means there is no doubt about the latest version. Although file-naming conventions is a good discipline, Approval Pipeline™ takes care of version control so file names are no longer critical.