Latrisha Eilers would print and staple a stack of 15 sheets of paper together, walk to a marketer’s desk, and then leave it there for review. It was now that person’s responsibility to review and mark up that piece of artwork. So when Latrisha, a production design supervisor at Spectrum Brands, says her creative department’s review and approval process was manual, she means it literally.
Her department consists of six designers, two production managers, and an art director. Like many creative departments, they handle a lot of requests and are challenged with prioritizing it all. To add to the process, they have to collaborate with multiple departments to finish the work.
Latrisha shared the story of how her department moved from a manual process to one digital tool. It’s been so successful, their company is pushing for the system to be implemented across the other brands at world headquarters.
The challenges of a manual review and approval process
To deliver work on time takes coordination between creative, marketing, legal, and product departments. The lost time of physically carrying around the artwork and each party’s feedback builds up quickly.
“I had to literally babysit jobs using file folders and printouts of artwork, running them around to proof,” Latrisha said. “If I stop doing that, all jobs would stop.” Any delays in artwork completion affects ex factory dates and when the products are shipped to the customer. The sale of their products was reliant on Latrisha carrying printouts around the office to be reviewed and approved. It’s no wonder she felt like she could never take vacation!
As artwork was developed, it would evolve from the first time it was routed. This lead to things being missed. “We wouldn’t catch that something was wrong until it came back from color match or in a PT sample review.” At that point, they already had printed and assembled product.
One digital tool for routing, review, and approval
Latrisha and her teams took their process of pen and paper and moved it into one digital tool, Widen Workflow. Simple things like the designer knowing who provided feedback and what’s the status of a project are now available. Reviewers are no longer discouraged by a stack of papers to be reviewed. They can effectively communicate by placing a pin on the artwork in Workflow and leave their comment.
“My designers are asking for more work”
Workflow has helped Latrisha and her department take care of so many quality and accuracy issues that designers have more time to collaborate on new projects and materials. “Because we are spending less time on that, my designers ask me for more work,” Latrisha added.
In June of last year, it took her department six months to execute a rebrand. They had to update packaging again this year and it only took them six weeks to roll out. “Half as many SKUs but still, six weeks vs. six months is unbelievable,” Latrisha said. Her department was able to work more effectively and she attributes it to her team having the right tool, Workflow. “They knew where it all was located. They had a tool they could use to communicate back and forth with the marketing person.”
Give your designers a tool designed for the way they work
Latrisha doesn’t talk about the hours tracked or projects logged. Workflow helps her department collaborate with other departments to get work out the door, to a point where her designers are asking for more to work on. Her designers get to focus on creating quality work instead of the tediousness and uncertainty a manual review and approval process creates. “It affects everybody. We can deliver on time and that’s a good feeling,” Latrisha concluded.