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FLEXO Magazine : October 2009
16 FLEXO OCTOBER 2009 www.flexography.org some respondents, devised a reliable means of managing the substantial risk that accompanies a downstream revision or, in worst cases, a product recall. "Granted, it can be very difficult to manage the entire process and keep control of the design [elements]," said an industry consultant and 60-year veteran of the product design industry. "But when things go wrong or get lost, that leads to recalls." What's more, processes and tools designed to streamline workflows often fall short in easing the compliance process, since they are often optimized to manage graphic work- flows---but not the criss-crossing data and commentary that often accompany compliance queries. The result, respon- dents said, is that few companies have a single reliable system in place to improve the efficiency of the regulatory compliance process. Inefficient organizational structures that complicate execution processes and obscure visibility into overall brand execution efficiency. Customer audiences are grow- ing more diverse. The Internet has reshaped the relationship between consumers and marketers, ushering in a wave of new products and services available "on demand" and speci- fied to precise individual needs. And expectations surrounding product performance and speed- to market continue to grow, requiring a degree of dexterity never before required of product devel- opment or marketing teams. Without question, mar- ket conditions are on the move. But product development structures have, by and large, changed nowhere near as fast or as dramatically. "Mass marketers" (a term that is fast evolving into an anachronism) are being called on to create products for micro-communities. And to many large product marketers, that has stressed operating structures---requiring smaller execution teams to manage an increasingly complex (and more numerous) array of projects and workflows. The result, predictably, manifests itself in typical product management demons of expanded roll-out cycles, increased cost and diminished quality. "Campaigns are growing more numerous, and there are more test and roll-out SKUs being created now than ever before," said a senior executive at a leading design services provider. "It's easy to see how cam- paigns and launch cycles can get incredibly out of synch." To their credit, many organizations have made focused attempts to address the confusion, adopting process optimization techniques and tools, when available, to more clearly assign distinct roles. But often, these efforts still end up hindering broader process efficiency, since " workaround" practices ul- timately misalign with enterprise systems and reduce visibility into total product development and roll-out efficiency. "Transparency is really the key," said the director of design for a global CPG company. "Bottom line: It allows you to focus in on problems and redistribute resources." Lack of communication between siloed design, opera- tions and engineering departments, hindering develop- ment of a single creative vision (or keeping it perpetually "one step ahead" of available delivery tools). One of the creative production challenges most often cited by brand and product managers has more to do with solutions than root problems themselves. In short, the array of tools, processes and "enhanced" organizational structures adopted to solve other performance issues through the business has fostered a whole new set of unique internal dilemmas. In particular, re- spondents cited communication protocols and tools designed to streamline the flow of information within a single brand or department. Often, respondents said, these methodologies have the effect of shutting out the department or brand to potentially helpful input from (or integration with) the rest of the organization. The problem is not unique to the world of creative produc- tion and management. (Communication lapses and conflict- ing technology platforms, after all, are an unfortunate fact of life for virtually every function in companies both large and small.) But the relatively recent emergence of so many process manage- ment tools catering to the creative arts---and relative unawareness of how to best build operational structures around these solutions---has both com- pounded existing issues and thrown a new series of wrenches into the prod- uct development works. The span of offerings that have been introduced and improved over the last 10 years is broad--- including "point" software solutions, hosted platforms and Web applications that manage dynamic publishing, cam- paign management, asset management and even data and financial management. But few platforms manage the entire product development ecosystem, requiring a complex array of parallel systems that are rarely optimized for interaction with each other. More dangerously, many companies have built homegrown solutions to fill the systems gap---even though these must ex- tend and gain acceptance across wide networks of suppliers, geographies and addressable media. But as they are unique to each organization, it's often difficult (or impossible) to gain supplier adherence. "There aren't a lot of workflow tools that really work across channels," said one CPG industry consul- tant. "Many work for just e-mail or direct mail, or packaging--- but very few can be used for many different purposes." WHAT IS CWM? Creative workflow management (CWM) is the dedicated set of tools and processes designed to optimize the develop- ment and utilization of creative elements and associated data through the product development cycle. It is, in many ways, both an independent business ap- proach and one that is directly linked to other initiatives---like PLM and marketing automation---that have emerged as " roadmaps" for businesses looking to improve the efficiency A Web-based workflow manage- ment tool allows users all over the world to make edits and approve packaging and promotional graph- ics, images and text---at the same time, and in real time. INDUSTRY INDICATORS
Sustainable Fall 2009