Information is the oxygen of the modern age. It seeps through the walls topped by barbed wire, it wafts across the electrified borders.

Ronald Reagan

Digital technology has changed everything for printers and despite the many methods now available for exchanging information, email is still widely used. The average office worker receives 121 emails each day!

When it comes to the proof approval process, most print companies could receive many times that number.

About 5 years ago we found three problematic areas in our clients proof approval process – the Security of their process, the management and flow of information, including version control, and an obligation to the client to educate them. Ultimately their proofing process was fragmented and risky.

Ensuring security of the process is a common need in the industry and is perhaps underestimated. Having to password protect each file and proof, manage multiple stand-alone FTP sites, requires huge effort and time.

As an organisation they found it difficult to track approvals, each job was managed independently by the account manager through their email system. It was heavily reliant on each individual.

A common problem they encountered was keeping track of which proof was the latest version, when dealing with customers who have many concurrent projects and several people involved in the decision-making. 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.

In days gone by, the pre-print customer approval process was nice and simple. You posted a proof to the customer and they would either accept it or indicate any required changes. The process may have been much slower compared to how things happen today, but it was simple, and it worked. In today’s digital world, the approval process can be done very quickly but unless the process is carefully controlled, there is the risk of making costly mistakes.

Our clients issue was not just the quantity of emails, but also how emails tend to be used. Chain emails were one of the biggest communication traps that lead to costly mistakes. The chain often began with the client receiving an email and the attached proof. The client would then forward the email to several colleagues soliciting their feedback, which was often done by adding their comments to the email chain. The customer contact would then add their own feedback and send it back, and they were then expected to wade through the email trail, trying to make sense of it all.

We thought surely this can be improved. Could it be systemised and a software solution found?

By implementing a single tool that manages all clients jobs in a central location, giving access to that location to internal teams from client services, accounts, pre-press and operations, meant that approval could then be managed, amended, time stamped and completed seamlessly without the need for the department manager driving and overseeing the complete approval process.

Working closely with some of our larger clients has meant that the software has adapted to meet the specific challenges and complexities of a busy printer with demanding customers. That system has evolved over the years into the Approval Pipeline™ proofing system

By linking teams within Approval Pipeline, our clients are able to speed up communication between their client and themselves, the ease of communication for amendments means that pre-press can immediately react to client amends rather than waiting for client services to receive, process and forward the information – particularly when they are busy with other clients. The approval software also tracks those changes and creates a central record for approval, thus almost eliminating errors in the print process through incorrect printing of the wrong file.

The Approval Pipeline software also resolves the data security concerns.

Approval Pipeline provides GDPR compliance immediately as the site is encrypted, with access via a password. This removes the need for individual file securities, in turn speeding up the process of data, copy and print file sharing both on a per job folder basis. By having a file per job, per client, and using the URN for the job that corresponds to the internal quote reference ensures that only correct data and files are used for the correct job. Again, reducing risk and approval errors.

Approval Pipeline has undergone external security checks from multiple corporate clients to check the security status of the system, and has been approved by all of them. Users of Approval Pipeline include Banking and Insurance customers, Blue Chip, Retail and Utility Companies.

Our research has shown that before one of our clients implemented the Approval Pipeline the average time to approve a job from first client submission to final client approval would take 60 hours (2.5 days) on average. Since its implementation the average number of hours is under 30 – half the time!

“Since we introduced the Resource Centre (Approval Pipeline) my time spent dealing with proofing has almost halved, I can now spend more time in proactive sales and client communications to benefit them rather than losing time in administrative processing. ”

“The ease by which I can now manage my day cannot be underestimated, I can work proactively on rather than constantly have to scan emails and chase proofs – despite my initial doubts about a ‘new system’ this one is genuinely a step forward, I would not want to go back to the old ways!”

Year Average number of Hours Number of Files
2014 27 509
2015 18 3619
2016 19 4638
2017 23 5387
2018 23 9778

Approval Pipeline can be fully personalised as a Print Co. Resource.

“This software has been massively beneficial to us” one client says, “it has helped win new business, especially security work, and it is a big tick box for tenders”

Approval Pipeline™ was designed specifically for printers with multiple clients and complex approval processes. It streamlines and tracks the workflow so that they avoid costly mistakes and keep their clients happy. With Approval Pipeline™, sorting through email chains and keeping track of feedback from multiple reviews becomes a thing of the past. You have full control over your print production workflow via a simple management dashboard.

It is also simple to use and highly configurable so that you can fully integrate it within your existing processes. You can set up your clients and staff and control what they can and cannot do. Based in the cloud, clients can review proofs, give feedback, and ultimately approve proofs on virtually any device.

Here are some of the ways that Approval Pipeline™ can benefit your organisation:

  • Faster approvals with less effort required to review and manage proofs
  • Fewer costly mistakes and increased accountability
  • Improved internal coordination/communication
  • Better co-ordination with third party printers
  • Convenience of being able to proof on any device
  • Improved management control over the proofing process
  • Audit trail for resolving disputes
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