Oh god….another feedback round.

Image created with Midjourney

Design approvals from multiple stakeholders (regulatory, marketing, client, printer, CMO) can be a challenging and time-consuming task for artwork managers and design teams. It’s like trying to herd cats – it’s impossible, but you still have to try! In today’s heavy workloads, it’s important to streamline the design approval process and save time, reduce delays and ensure projects are completed on time and with as few rounds as possible. What are the 2 key challenges of getting approval rounds right?

Challenge 1: Managing Multiple (often too many) Feedback Loops

When working with multiple stakeholders, there’s always the risk of conflicting opinions, which can result in endless rounds of revisions and delay the project. Quality might ask to add one end of sentence dot, Regulatory wants to skip it to launch the product, Marketing is changing the color of the flap….again, while the printer realised they attached the wrong dieline. OMG moment. To overcome this, it’s important to establish clear lines of communication and a structured review process. This includes setting up regular check-ins, clear expectations and deadlines, and establishing a centralized system for feedback and revisions.

Challenge 2: Balancing Speed and Quality

Another key challenge in managing design approvals is balancing speed and quality. In order to ensure that projects are completed on time, it’s often necessary to move quickly through the design approval process. However, this can result in missed details, oversights, or incorrect approvals. On the other hand, taking too much time to review and approve can be costly or simply unacceptable. To balance speed and quality, it’s important to set realistic deadlines, involve the right people at the right time, and establish a clear and consistent review process.

Bonus Quiz: Serial or Parallel Approvals?

One key component of a proper approval process is the establishment of approval model. This is in many oranizations overlooked and underrated. Let me explain.

The Serial Approval Process

Image with Midjourney

When multiple stakeholders are required to provide feedback and approval, it is common practice to request such approval one stakeholder at a time. The argument that we typically hear is that this allows the design team to fix errors early on before the “important” stakeholders take a look. Every time we face this, it hurts. Intermediate and uncompleted feedback rounds only cause MORE WORK, not less. They also increase the risk of introducing unwanted mistakes.

The Parallel Approval Process

An alternative approach is to request feedback and approval to all stakeholders at the same time, and wait for all responses before issuing a new version. This comes with its own challenges is hardly suited for a traditional email/paper based model.

Golden Tip: Implement an Automated Approval Workflow

To improve and simplify the design approval process, it’s recommended to implement an automated approval workflow. Automated workflows can help streamline the review and approval process, reducing the time it takes to complete designs and minimizing the risk of missed details or oversights. With an automated system, all feedback and revisions are stored in one central location, allowing teams to track the status of each design in real-time. This suits the Parallel Approval Process really neatly and helps to keep the process organized, reduces the risk of conflicting feedback, and ensures everyone is on the same page. It’s like having a GPS for your design approvals – you’ll always know where you’re going and how to get there!

Managing approvals can be a complex and time-consuming process. But, with the right approach, it can be a straightforward and efficient process. By establishing clear lines of communication, balancing speed and quality, and implementing an automated approval workflow, organizations can streamline the design approval process, save time and ensure projects are completed on time and with a few iterations as possible. And, most importantly, they can have a little more peace of mind and a little less stress.

3 simple automations to make your process easier

Photo by Twona
Image depicts a tree-shaped process, showing how when a project is created in Twona AMS, certain actions can be automated like snd a slack message, add a google calendar event or update some KPIs in google Studio.
Photo by Twona

Having an effective process is a major goal of most organizations. We know to reach that goal, you use other systems that support or extend your design management processes. And that is fine! Twona AMS ticks many boxes towards achieving effectiveness, and if you implement some of these tips you may be able to reach that goal even faster.

Transferring data within the system or across systems without having to manually do so – sounds good, does it not?

1. Automatic version status update when project stages changes

Imagine that your team has reviewed a document version and has added comments to it. This actually means that the version reviewed is rejected, and a new one will need to be created. You can decide to manually mark it as such before you move the project to the team responsible for the needed changes, or better yet you can build a rule in Twona AMS that will do this for you.

Here is an example of a similar rule.

Photo by Twona

You may need to adjust this to your internal naming, and you may have a specific use case for a different action. If you need some help to build this, just make sure to contact us!

2. Create a Trello/Monday/Asana card/task when a project reaches a specific milestone

Does your company use some of these popular project management systems ? Then it may be clever to automate the creation of a card when a design is completed and ready to launch so that marketing can start creating their campaigns, or so that the design team can receive the feedback on the design and create a new version (if we want to follow the previous example).

Using the power of Zapier, we are able to integrate Twona AMS with these tools and connect two worlds with just a few clicks.

You can use the predefined workflow for Trello (or other tool you use), or create your own.

Photo by Twona

3. Notify users when a project reaches a specific status

Some users may need to be alerted when a project is ready for them to take action, such as creating a design based on the briefing, reviewing and approving, or collecting extra information.

If the user does not keep Twona AMS open at all times, you may want to create a notification to inform them that there is an action for them to complete. Notify your users where THEY are most likely to see it. You can choose to do it to a Slack channel, a Google Chat (Room) and/or a good old email.

Photo by Twona

These are just a few ideas of how you can automate your process and become more efficient. If you have any other ideas, or suggestions, make sure to share those with me!

Zuriñe García
Marketing

My experience in managing Packaging Artworks

Photo by Felipe Furtado - table with postit notes and markers. Experience briefing and process steps
Photo by Felipe Furtado

I have been working over 15 years in the packaging industry, particularly all related to Regulatory affairs.

In all this time, despite the regulatory changes that have influenced formats, texts, graphics … variations, the day to day process of Artwork creation for packaging materials has remained quite stable.

What has changed, and exponentially, are the tools that help us manage the creation and review of Artworks, both on the process side, and on the quality side.

If you have been around in this industry for a while, you probably remember a lot more paper. Paper to start an Artwork, paper to manage the changes, paper to check that the reviews were made, and paper to add it to the archive.

How much paper do you have right now on your table?

You probably have things stored on the intranet, or maybe even on the cloud. This means that it does not matter where you are, or where you are, you are able to check or execute any work you need remotely. Think about how some companies have suffered when they were not able to function normally without being physically in the office.

Nowadays, most seem to have this storing function under control. But this is just a part. In order to have a final document to store (wherever it is) , you need a process of information collection, design creation, review, approvals, checks and changes and version control, until you end up with the final material.

How do YOU manage all this process?

Many handle it via email, mixing external tools to share large files because their email capacity is limited. Possibly, you also use a spreadsheet to track open processes, but without any traceability or automatic control of “where” each Artwork is at each moment.

That was me also around 2005.

And this is how Twona AMS was born, our Artwork Management System. It was developed around the same needs that your team may have. We did not want to “suffer” more, and we knew there were better ways to manage all those processes within a single tool.

One of the biggest advantages of using Twona, to my own view, has always been the increase in visibility. Visibility of all the projects we were handling; but also, of all the information related to a new design/change, all in one single place.

Thanks to this, we are able to manage priorities with agility, distribute work in a more balanced manner, and we avoid generating bottle necks when a colleague is out of the office. This has all resulted in faster turnaround of Artworks.

Additionally, we can send a request for review directly from the tool, internally and externally, and see all comments, messages or additional documents all in one single screen. This helps tremendously with the editing process and with reducing the number of iterations needed before we can consider an Artwork as ready for print.

We, as well as our clients, also use some quality tools to review Artworks – these are embedded in Twona and accessible with just a click. But I will talk more about this in another moment, not to take much of your time.

If my post has triggered your curiosity and want to know how an Artwork Management System in the cloud works, or think that there may be some processes susceptible of improvement within your team, access this link to get more info or ask for a demo.

Rafael Cruz Núñez
Artwork Manager

Add (this) AMS to your life

Are you involved in Artwork Packaging Design?

Photo by Twona

If you’re reading this you and your team probably manage thousands of artworks a year: from packaging, to labels, to digital assets, you name it. Between emails, phone calls, reminders, artworks with change requests, new design specifications, and last minute jobs, there’s no doubt you have a busy work day.

If all the above makes you feel stressed it could be because you have not found the right system to help you with all of your workload … YET.

With that in mind I would like you to take a look at Twona AMS, a highly customizable Artwork Management System which is simple and easy to use, and can be integrated with other tools to automate your workflow, all without you having to be a coding expert.

With Twona AMS you will find a one stop shop for your design process, from beginning to end. So what can you expect from Twona AMS?

Twona AMS can provide you with…

  • Tailored workflows
  • A complete overview of you and your team’s workload
  • The ability to allocate time and resources accordingly
  • A way to oversee the complete process of a project from one single location
  • A tool to collaborate with your team, add messages, and leave notes
  • Quality assurance tools, such as graphic and content comparison directly from your job request
  • A way to share documents and get artwork approvals internally or from external parties
  • The ability to keep version control and history of all your files
  • Automation of tasks that can be repetitive
  • Integration with other applications already used in your organization to avoid duplication of activities

If this sounds lovely, you don’t need to wait any longer to regain control of your workflow and increase your efficiency.

Checking our website is free, and getting yourself a license is too!

You can start today with no obligation.

Zuriñe García
Marketing