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FLEXO Magazine : October 2009
www.flexography.org OCTOBER 2009 FLEXO 17 and effectiveness of their internal busi- ness processes. But whereas those dis- ciplines are geared to support a broad array of activities (supporting the prod- uct development cycle from inception through launch, maintenance and re- tirement, as in the case of PLM), CWM is unique in that it is focused intensively on the optimization of results through the creative workflow---a step in the product development and marketing cycles that has been traditionally overlooked as an "art that should be exempt from the same "scientific optimization as other key business processes. With the proper integration of both technology and process design, CWM effectively bridges the gap between "art and "science. In practice today, it addresses the coordinated utilization of tools designed to manage: Workflow automation and manage- ment Digital/visual asset management Brand and legal compliance review and approval Real-time collaboration and mark-up Color management Digital color proofing File transfer management Project tracking, cost control and measurement At its core, CWM brings efficiency and insight to a set of processes that are critical yet typically overlooked. For brand managers and marketers looking to develop a long-term approach to sustainable productivity improvement, it is a discipline that picks up precisely where other enterprise performance initiatives leave off---and allows creative professionals to focus on what they know best: creative. "As soon as the creative portion is competed, there are all sorts of auto- mation tools, solutions and processes available to take over, said one senior design agency executive. "But the big- ger opportunity is for automation and efficiencies to take over that front end. That's where there's a clear alignment between PLM and CWM. Now people just have to really leverage automation in the way that they need to---to get the most benefit from their creative process. THE CWM OPPORTUNITY In this challenging economic envi- ronment, cost savings are top of mind for every brand and product manager. Recession-driven headcount and re- source cutbacks are growing more common, and productivity expecta- tions---spurred on by increased competi- tive intensity in the marketplace---remain largely unchanged. More than ever before, managers are seeking ways to cut costs while maintaining productivity and quality. Traditionally, such needs have been addressed by " reshuffling the deck when it comes to process manage- ment---either by reshaping the roster of suppliers or dedicating a specialized process manager to monitor end-to-end workflow efficiency. But " workaround fixes like those typically go only so far, often creating just as many workflow dilemmas as they set out to fix. "The design and approvals process can be managed through spreadsheets and team meetings, usually with a single coordinator in charge of driving traffic, said a long-time CPG brand manager. "However, then you become beholden to that single person and their ability, and the efficiency of the process is tied to that person's ability to create efficiencies and stay on track. Into that breach steps CWM. "[We've] needed to increase efficiency, route more packages through the department and do it all with the same headcount, said an executive at a design agency, an early adopter of CWM technology. "With workflow automation solutions, we've been able to do that. We've reduced the number of [internal rout- ing] e-mails, the number of rounds of revisions and we know more about what packages cost us than ever before. Production costs represent only one efficiency target for brand and product managers; shortening go-to-market cycle times, a number of survey respon- dents said, can often represent even more value to a brand organization. Two particular benefits, in fact---first- mover advantage, enjoyed by those who introduce new product categories to the market; and the coordinated benefit of tying product launch and marketing initiatives---are so significant that they often justify the investment in automation tools independent of other efficiency gains. "If I could cut down the time between development and market launch to zero, I'd do it, joked one confectionary brand manager. "In an ideal world you have a great idea, and then you bring it to market as fast as possible. Respondents added that the recession has driven the emergence of yet another trend demanding an efficiency solution:
Sustainable Fall 2009