It’s often difficult to avoid using third party printers to undertake sub-contract work. For example, jobs involving lithography or screen printing may require a specialist printer. Unfortunately, this adds an extra link in the process, which increases the complexity along with the risk of things going wrong for the customers who have multiple concurrent projects. Ultimately, the customer will always point the finger of blame at the main printer, even if the mistakes are caused by the customer themselves.
The problem is that printers normally do not like their third party contractors communicating directly with their customers for commercial reasons. This means that the printer needs to act as a go-between when it comes to approving proofs. Third party printers will have their own way of doing things, and may not be as disciplined as you are in things like version control and file naming conventions.
It may not seem an issue if third parties are only used occasionally for simple print jobs. However, the problem becomes more prevalent with larger customers who have multiple, complex print jobs that span different departments. The management side of things becomes significantly more complicated and time-consuming.
To streamline the process of getting proofs approved, it is essential that the printer enrols the third parties into their internal processes. If you are adopting the recommendations above, especially in relation to version control, then ideally your third parties should keep to your filenaming conventions and upload files directly to the directories for you. That just leaves you to manage the notifications and reminders.
Your processes will need additional steps to mirror what is happening between you and your customer, and the third party printer will notify you when they have uploaded a proof to the directory. You will then send the third party printer an email telling them that the proof has been accepted or rejected.
It would be helpful to have the appropriate processes documented so that third party printers have a clear guideline of how they need to deliver proofs and how to name the files.
Approval Pipeline™ removes the complexity of third party printers because they simply upload the file to be proofed directly into the system and get a notification when the customer has approved or rejected the file. The whole process is seamless and it makes it seem as if they were working directly for your company.