Artwork Coordination: an often undervalued, complex role

Photo by Matt Bero on Unsplash
Photo of a business person with headset on, a backpack, wearing a shirt, crossing a zebra pad juggling some balls
Photo by Matt Bero on Unsplash

The role of an artwork coordinator in industries such as food, pharmaceutical or retail is crucial for ensuring that the packaging design of products is consistent, accurate, and meets all legal and regulatory requirements. However, this position does not always get the appreciation it deserves.

Being an artwork coordinator for the packaging design of products comes with its own set of difficulties and challenges, which can range from managing a large volume of designs, to ensuring the accuracy of information and meeting tight deadlines, amongst others:

  1. Managing a large volume of designs: Artwork coordinators are responsible for simultaneously managing a large number of designs, both for large product launches and small packaging changes, which can be a time-consuming and complex process.
  2. Maintaining design consistency: Maintaining consistency in design across multiple products and packaging, as well as keeping up to date with customer input and market inspiration (not for Pharma products, where all is more regulated) is crucial for creating a strong brand identity.
  3. Accuracy of information: The accuracy of information on packaging is crucial for ensuring product safety and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. This is specially critical in the FMCG and pharmaceutical industries, where errors can lead to severe consequences on the consumer side. Products that are sold across multiple countries, with multi-lingual labels, represent an extra complexity on this front, to make sure that all information is accurate and meets the local standards.
  4. Meeting tight deadlines: Coordinators often have to work with very tight deadlines to ensure that products are available for sale in a timely manner.
  5. Collaboration and communication: Effective collaboration and communication between different departments and stakeholders is essential for ensuring the success of a packaging design project.
  6. Approval management: this communication and collaboration amongst departments and external parties such as external clients, regulatory bodies, or printers, takes an extra step when it comes to managing the approvals on the artworks. Dealing with both internal and external feedback rounds adds an extra layer of risk in making sure that the correct files are used when it comes to creating the final product that goes in the shelves.
  7. Control of document versions and files in general: don’t you hate it when you receive a final version and then it turns out it is no the final one, amendments are made and you lose track of which file is the one that should be used? With so many projects ongoing and multiple approvals needed, it is one artwork’s coordinator nightmare to make sure the files are correctly stored and identified.

These challenges show how important and complex the role of artwork coordinator can be. Luckily, nowadays, there are tools that can assist an artwork coordinator in their daily tasks to make them more successful and efficient.

An artwork management system (AMS) can help automate and streamline the design process, through custom workflows that will take some of the repetitive tasks out of their plate, and giving visibility to other stakeholders when they need to provide input or approve. Such technology would also make sure that designs used are the correct ones, by providing a central repository for storing and sharing artworks, keeping version control on all files. Through an audit trail on changes, it becomes much more simple to track where a design is at any given time, and who may have performed a change, taking action from there.

Artwork Management System – Twona

Reaching deadlines becomes easier, as the approval process can be automated and they only need to make sure to check feedback when completed. Because the tool would provide real-time updates on the status of designs, they can focus on more valuable activities other than chasing and reminding people. As a central platform for sharing designs and communicating with stakeholders, and AMS would improve collaboration and communication, as everyone is involved and has visibility over the process. Furthermore, additional tools such as artwork comparison/proofing systems can help coordinators verify that the information on packaging is accurate and up-to-date, reducing the risk of errors and mistakes.

The role definition does not need to change. Its beauty is that it interlocks so many areas of the packaging design process. However, it can be more appreciated when the right technology is used to support their multiple tasks, as it will help professionalize and standardize the artwork coordinator function.

On-premises vs SaaS

Even though the corporate solutions landscape has rapidly evolved over the last decade, the decision between an on-premises software installation and a SaaS cloud solution is a common one that many organizations face. There are several key differences between the two that impact cost, functionality, and security.

  1. Cost: On-premises software requires a significant upfront investment in hardware, maintenance, and upgrades. It also requires the in-house expertise in the form of developers, engineers, infrastructure and security experts. In contrast, a SaaS solution is generally sold as a subscription service and eliminates the need for a large upfront investment. This means that the cost of a SaaS solution is more predictable and often more manageable.
  2. Functionality: On-premises software offers more customization options, but it also requires more expertise to set up and manage. Development and installation takes a significant amount of time as the complexity of the required functions increases, taking several months to years to setup a system. A SaaS solution, on the other hand, is managed by the vendor. It typically offers less customization but is easier to set up and use. If the SaaS solution offers a powerful API, customization can be further extended. This can lead to a more streamlined and efficient process with a significantly lower go-live time.
  3. Security: On-premises software is often perceived as more secure because the data is stored on the organization’s own servers. However it also requires more resources and expertise to manage and protect. A SaaS solution is managed by the vendor and typically offers a higher level of security than an on-premises solution, specially when large scale, well know infrastructure providers are used, such as Amazon. It also involves more trust in the vendor and their security practices, which is typically solved with Information Security audits.

In conclusion, when deciding between an on-premises software installation and a SaaS cloud solution, it’s important to consider the cost, functionality, and security implications of each option. While on-premises software offers more customization options, it also requires more resources and expertise to set up and manage. SaaS solutions are easier to use and offer more predictable costs, but they also involve more trust in the vendor and their security practices. Ultimately, the right solution will depend on the specific needs and resources of each organization, but let’s be honest. Who in its right mind would in 2023 decide to purchase an on-premises solution when there are SaaS alternatives on the market?

Is Software Validation outdated?

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Software validation is the process of ensuring that software systems meet the requirements set forth by regulatory bodies, such as the FDA in the United States. This is particularly important in highly regulated industries, such as the pharmaceutical industry, where software systems are used to manage and analyze critical data that is used to support the development and manufacture of drugs.

The origin of software validation can be traced back to the early days of computer technology in the pharmaceutical industry. In the 1970s, the FDA began to recognize the importance of software validation as a means of ensuring the accuracy and reliability of data generated by computer systems. This led to the development of guidelines and regulations for software validation, specifically in the pharmaceutical industry, such as the FDA’s “Guideline on General Principles of Software Validation” in 2002.

One key document that is created during the software validation process is the Master Validation Plan (MVP). The MVP is a comprehensive document that outlines the overall strategy and approach for validating the software. It includes details such as the scope of the validation, the validation team, and the schedule for validation activities. It is the first and foremost piece to documentation that needs to be created.

Following the MVP, you need to build three key documents: OQ, IQ and PQ.

Operational Qualification (OQ) and Installation Qualification (IQ) are used to ensure that the software system is installed and configured properly, and that it functions as intended in its intended environment.

Performance Qualification (PQ) is a process of testing software systems in order to verify that it performs as intended, and that it meets the acceptance criteria defined in the Qualification Protocol (QP).

As the technology and software development methodologies have evolved since the 70s, the need to adapt the validation model for modern SaaS cloud-based solutions has become increasingly important. With the advent of cloud computing, software systems are no longer installed and run on a single machine, but rather they are accessed through the internet from various devices and locations. This is the so called “single tenant system”, which is a radically different paradigm from the early on-site installations. This has led to the development of new guidelines and regulations for validating cloud-based software systems, such as the FDA’s “Guidance for Industry: Cloud Computing and Mobile Medical Applications” in 2013, although one might argue that those models are still outdated given the speed of the advancement of technology and cloud services.

In conclusion, software validation is a critical process in ensuring the accuracy and reliability of data generated by computer systems in highly regulated environments. However, application of outdated validation methods will only led to frustration and failure.

If you are about to embark on a validation process for a SaaS solution but your QA team has only experience on traditional on-site installations, do not rush. Take your time, read the available literature, get familiar with the tools and infrastructure used by your chosen vendor and if necessary, ask for additional budget to ensure the validation is not only successful, but more importantly, relevant.

2 Challenges of multi language packaging

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Creating and managing packaging materials for the food industry can be a complex and challenging task, especially when the products are going to be commercialised in many countries. Two of the main challenges include compliance with regulations and cultural differences. Not to mention the complexity in managing multiple packaging materials in the factory.

Compliance

Compliance with regulations is a major challenge when creating and managing packaging materials for the food industry. Different countries have different regulations regarding food packaging, including labelling requirements, food safety standards, and environmental regulations. This can make it difficult for companies to create packaging that meets the requirements of all the countries where their products will be sold. Additionally, these regulations are constantly evolving and companies need to stay up-to-date with the latest changes in order to remain compliant.

Cultural Differences

Cultural differences are another major challenge when creating and managing packaging materials for the food industry.

Different cultures have different tastes and preferences when it comes to food, and this can impact the design and messaging of the packaging. Companies need to take these cultural differences into account when creating packaging that will appeal to customers in different countries. For example, a packaging design that is popular in one country may not be well-received in another country due to cultural differences.

The multi-language setup also influences the complexity of creating and managing packaging materials for the food industry. Companies need to create packaging that includes translations of all the text, which can be a time-consuming and costly process. Additionally, the translations need to be accurate and culturally appropriate in order to avoid any misunderstandings or offence. Consistency in look, message and tone should also be considered when selling across borders.

How can you improve this?

One key advice to improve this process is to work with a professional translation agency that specialises in the food industry. These agencies have experience translating food packaging and can ensure that the translations are accurate, culturally appropriate, and compliant with regulations. Additionally, they can help companies stay up-to-date with the latest changes in regulations and cultural trends in different countries.

Another advice is to work with an agency or studio, or independent artwork designer, who is experienced in the production of multi-language packaging materials. These professionals would be able to create, edit, and review materials in different languages, as well as different alphabets before they reach your internal review teams.

Ideally, these two are working together or at least, are in contact, to speed the final delivery of correct packaging information and its formatted result for printing purposes.

And you, how do you manage your multilingual packaging projects?

3 Key aspects of medical illustrations

Illustration by Twona Studio (artist Belinda Ramos)

Illustrations are a fundamental tool for communicating information about medical devices to patients and healthcare professionals. In order for these illustrations to be effective, they must be relevant, accurate, and well-thought-out.

Relevance

The illustrations should be directly related to the device in question and should provide information that is useful and relevant to the intended audience. For example, an illustration of a medical device used for a specific condition should be included in the documentation for that condition.

Accuracy

Accuracy is another crucial aspect of illustrations depicting medical devices. Inaccurate illustrations can lead to confusion and even errors in use, which can be dangerous for patients. Therefore, it is essential that illustrations are based on accurate, up-to-date information and are reviewed and approved by experts in the field. Additionally, the illustrations need to be easy to understand by the appropriate audience. A healthcare professional might have received appropriate training, but in many occasions the intended user might not have received any training at all.

Design

The third important aspect of relevant, accurate and well thought through illustrations is that they should be well-designed to effectively communicate the intended message. The illustrations should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. They should also be visually appealing, as this can help to engage the reader and make the information more memorable. The illustrations should be placed in a logical and meaningful way in the leaflet or other medical documentation to make it easy for the reader to follow and understand.

Illustration by Twona Studio (artist Belinda Ramos)

Medical illustrations are essential when it comes to communicating information about medical devices to patients and healthcare professionals. They can greatly enhance the effectiveness of instructional materials by making complex information easy to understand, and by ensuring correct application and treatment.

If you need to improve your medical devices illustrations, reach out to our Studio and we will be happy to chat with you.

How many reminders have you sent today?

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Collecting feedback on packaging design from multiple stakeholders can be a frustrating and time-consuming process, especially when relying on traditional methods such as email. Not only does it require constant back-and-forth communication, but it also makes it difficult to keep track of comments and revisions from different parties. And let’s not talk about “you know who”, who always needs a few reminders to send the feedback and is almost always late.

One of the biggest challenges in this process is getting feedback from printers, regulatory bodies, marketing teams, contract manufacturers, and clients. Each of these groups has their own specific concerns and requirements that need to be addressed, and coordinating their input can be a logistical nightmare.

Printers will have concerns about the technical aspects of the design, such as file keylines or barcodes, while regulatory teams will need to ensure that the packaging complies with all relevant laws and standards and includes the approved text. Marketing teams will want to ensure that the design follows the “somewhat” strict brand guidelines, while contract manufacturers will need to ensure that the design is suitable for their machinery. And of course, if you are dealing with clients will have their own unique requirements and preferences.

All of these different perspectives and requirements can make the feedback process overwhelming, and it can be difficult to keep track of who has provided what feedback and what revisions have been made. This can lead to delays, miscommunication and increased costs. And….yeah, I won’t mention the fearful recall.

Thankfully, there is a solution to this problem: an approval management system such as the one provided by Twona. This system streamlines the feedback process by providing a central platform for all stakeholders (also external stakeholders to your organization) to collaborate and provide feedback on the design. It eliminates the need for constant back-and-forth communication via email and makes it easy to keep track of comments and revisions (with very strict version control).

With Twona’s approval management system, all stakeholders can easily view the design and provide feedback in real-time. This speeds up the approval process and ensures that all comments and revisions are captured in one place. Additionally, the system allows for easy communication between stakeholders and makes it easy to see which feedback has been addressed and which still needs to be acted upon.

If you’re tired of the frustration and inefficiency of the traditional feedback process and wish you were on the beach instead of sending emails reminding people to do their jobs, contact our sales team today to schedule a demo of Twona’s approval management system. See for yourself how it can make a difference to your packaging design process and improve your bottom line.

The 3 challenges of up-to-date SOPs

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Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are a critical component of any organization’s quality management system. They provide clear, detailed instructions on how to perform specific tasks, ensuring consistency and accuracy in the performance of those tasks. However, keeping SOPs up to date and accurate can be a significant challenge for organizations.

SOPs are critical in the creation and update of packaging materials for Pharma, Food and Retail companies where a mistake introduced in the packaging can trigger a costly product recall.

Consistency

One of the major challenges is maintaining consistency in the SOPs. As an organization evolves and changes, it can be difficult to ensure that all SOPs reflect the current processes and procedures, specially when dealing with changing external stakeholders, such as printers, regulatory agencies and contract manufacturers. This can lead to confusion and errors, as employees may be following outdated or incorrect instructions, or even worse, ignoring them all together because they do not reflect the reality of their daily work. Additionally, as new employees are hired, or existing employees move to different roles within the organization, it can be difficult to ensure that everyone is following the same SOPs.

Accuracy

Another challenge is ensuring the accuracy of the SOPs. As processes and procedures change, it is important to update the SOPs to reflect those changes. However, it can be difficult to ensure that all changes are captured and that the SOPs are accurate and up to date. This can be especially challenging in large organizations where there may be multiple departments or teams responsible for different SOPs.

The Devil is in the details

The line between accurate representation of proceses and overly detailed instructions that are difficult to follow is sometimes thin. A third challenge relates to this line and the art of keeping the SOPs concise and easy to understand. SOPs should be clear, concise, and straight forward to follow. Overly complex and detailed SOPs can make it difficult for employees to understand and follow the instructions, leading to confusion and errors. Additionally, writing too many pages can be overwhelming and time-consuming for employees to read.

How can you address these challenges?

To address these challenges, organizations can establish a system for regularly reviewing and updating their SOPs. This can include assigning a specific individual or team responsible for maintaining the SOPs, and setting up a schedule for regular review and updates. Organizations can establish a clear process for capturing and documenting changes to the SOPs, and for ensuring that all employees are aware of and understand the most up-to-date SOPs. By adopting these strategies, they can ensure that their SOPs are accurate, up to date, and easy to understand, without falling into the trap of writing thousands of pages.

The failed digitalization

image of a digital word, click of a button and multiple devices. Photo from canva.com
Digitalization of processes can be a difficult task. Here are some strategies to make it a bit easier. Photo: canva.com

Are you transforming your company processes into digital ones? These are a few things to consider when doing so to make sure your team is on board!

The digitalization of company processes can be a challenging transition for employees who have been doing the same thing for a long time. This is because it requires them to adapt to new technology and ways of working, which can be overwhelming and intimidating. Additionally, some employees may feel that their job is being replaced by a system, leading to fear of job loss and uncertainty about their future.

However, with the right strategies in place, companies can help their employees to embrace the digitalization process and make the transition as smooth as possible.

  • One strategy for helping employees to embrace digitalization is to provide them with training and resources. This can include training on the new technology and processes, as well as access to online resources such as tutorials and FAQs. Providing employees with a clear understanding of how the new technology works and how it will benefit them and the company can help to alleviate their fears and uncertainty. Additionally, providing employees with the opportunity to test out the new technology in a controlled environment can help to build their confidence and familiarity with it.
  • Another strategy is to involve employees in the transition process. This can include involving them in the selection and implementation of the new technology and processes. By giving employees a sense of ownership and control over the process, they are more likely to be invested in its success and feel more positive about the changes. By involving employees in the process, companies can also benefit from their expertise and knowledge of the current processes, which can help to identify potential issues and improve the efficiency of the new technology.
  • Communication is also key when it comes to helping employees to embrace digitalization. Keeping employees informed of the reasons for the change, the benefits it will bring and the progress made during the process, can help to reduce anxiety and uncertainty. Regular updates and opportunities for feedback can also help to address any concerns employees may have and ensure that the digitalisation process is as smooth as possible.
  • Finally, companies can also help their employees to embrace digitalization by providing them with career development opportunities. This can include training and development programs to help them acquire new skills and knowledge that will be relevant to the new technology and processes. This, in turn, can help to keep employees engaged and motivated, and provide a sense of purpose and direction during the transition.

We have helped many companies make the transition to our SaaS Artwork Management System, and have experience this reticence to change the old ways from employees. “We have always done it like this” is not really a reason to not move forward! Some companies deal with it better than others, but the above strategies are in the core of all successful implementations we have done where some resistance was shown by one or several members of the team.

We are proud to say that many of those change-adverse people who were not happy at that moment in time have turned to become our best advocates for the use of Twona.

Rafael Cruz Núñez
Artwork Manager

Listen to your users

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Black and white image showing the text in capital letters: "WE HEAR YOU".
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

User feedback is crucial when designing and programming a SaaS solution for large and complex corporate companies to manage their packaging design process. Without user feedback, the solution may not meet the specific needs and demands of the users, leading to dissatisfaction and a lack of adoption.

By gathering feedback from users throughout the design and development process, the solution can be tailored to their specific needs. This ensures that the software is user-friendly and easy to navigate, making the packaging design process more efficient and streamlined. User feedback also helps identify any potential issues or bugs that may have been missed during testing.

Incorporating user feedback into the design and development process also demonstrates that the company values the input of its users and is committed to providing a high-quality solution. This can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Additionally, user feedback can provide valuable insights into the industry and market trends, allowing the company to stay competitive and continuously improve the solution.

There is of course a fine line between listening to your users and building a custom application for each of them.

How to prevent this from happening? These are some ideas to make it work for everyone:

  • Making sure that any feedback you receive is properly tracked and reported – this way you can link similar ideas/requests and map them to your own product development timelines
  • Translating the feedback into clear requirements (SOPs) – without clear requirements, nothing can be built. Users need to be very specific when talking about their needs so that there is no possibility to get something lost in translation.
  • It is imperative that the need applies to a majority of your user base – if what a customer wants is not what another one needs, there is little room for an implementation that will affect all your users. While some features may not be used/needed by all, building something that will only apply to a handful of users defeats the purpose of increasing the quality of your software and will deteriorate your client satisfaction.

When all these three conditions apply, customer feedback can become a great tool to make sure you are designing and programming a SaaS solution that is built to last and that users identify and are comfortable working with.

At Twona we often incorporate feedback from our users into upcoming releases. It may take some time for things to appear in your screen – we work with an agile methodology, but until proper requirements are drafted and confirmation that the solution will be beneficial to most users, we may not proceed to put it in the planning; or after going thru the 3 steps above, realize that the request was not meeting but a customer needs and could not move forward; but in any case, we do take their input seriously and report each feedback input into our tracking system for discussion with the Product owner and engineer teams.

So if you are one of our clients, do not hesitate to let your Success Manager know about your ideas!

Simplifying approvals is possible

Releasing a new product at a specific time can be very important for the results,the time factor will always be something to consider. If we are dealing with a deviation that implies a withdrawal from the market, speeding up the changes will be even more critical and always with several departments involved.

The approvals of our packaging materials have been traditionally managed via email in two different ways:

  • Serial process: in sequence you ask for feedback to different stakeholders and when one material is approved the next step can begin consecutively.
  • Parallel process: we ask for feedback to different stakeholders in different departments at the same time.
Photo by Twona

When we talk about approvals there are usually at least 3 departments involved, for example regulatory affairs, marketing, quality or your technical colleagues. As many people we need feedback from,the more difficult the email process becomes.

It is not impossible, but it certainly takes a lot more effort to find, trace and control the process, not to mention the increased probability of errors and the delay it can cause.

How does your company manage approvals among departments? What about when there are external stakeholders involved in the process like a printer?

This is how we handle approvals within our artwork management software (AMS), Twona:

Photo by Twona
  1. Select the file: we select in our system the file from which we need feedback from. The file with unique identifier associated with a single project:
  2. Fill in the form: where we specify the permissions that you can see below, the subject, the recipients and we include our comments to give it context.
  3. Receive email: stakeholders, within our organisation or external users, will receive an email to access the approval screen and give their feedback.
  4. Review file (s): here we can leave comments in the text field or leave sticky notes in the file itself, we can also add files if necessary as well as give our approval or rejection eventually.
  5. Control approvals: in Twona (AMS) there is a direct access in the upper menu to the approvals with the necessary indications to know the status of the process.

Photo by Twona

Once you work this way, there comes a time when you wonder how you were able to manage so many approvals without making mistakes.

Photo by Twona

This is how we manage the packaging materials together with the comparisons tool (X-RAY) and everything offered by the artwork management software, Twona, but that’s another story.

I wonder how you resolve this process today and I invite you to leave us your comments.

Do you miss any relevant information or step for your approvals?