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FLEXO Magazine : October 2009
18 FLEXO OCTOBER 2009 www.flexography.org Largest benefit brand and product managers gained from use of CWM. Most important feature of CWM, according to brand and product managers. Many large companies (including a number of sophisticated product marketers) are finding that they have outsourced as much of the creative production process as practically possible and are struggling to find internal and external sources of new efficiencies. One service provider---the leader of a large outsourced creative production shop---said that providers and marketers will eventually have to work together, leveraging technology to find those solutions. "I'm hearing more and more that brand managers have cut their suppliers to the bone and can't go any further because the suppliers are starting to go under, he said. "Instead they need to improve their own pro- cesses and procedures to allow them to reduce costs. Among those who have adopted the CWM approach, early returns appear significant. Between agency cost savings and time-to-market benefits, most report typical efficiency improvements in the magnitude of two to three times what they were enjoying previously, all while maintaining (or even increasing) the quality of brand output. Given the critical role that creative development plays in advertising, marketing, branding and product management, one might expect a large suite of dedicated tools exists to support those processes. In practice, though, the matching of creative tools to busi- ness problems is far from cut-and-dry. Many companies, for example, manage design and creative processes with "off-label solutions, adapting systems designed for other purposes to accommodate their specialized design, workflow and storage requirements. Though often helpful in meeting short-term cost or productivity needs, this approach usually creates more problems than it solves, perpetually requir- ing new adaptive solutions, keeping creative concepts "one step ahead of available engineering tools and requiring significant resources on behalf of the product management, creative, package design and IT infrastructure teams. CWM solutions address that need by providing "all-in- one, mission-specific platforms around which creative processes may be optimized. By combining asset man- agement, digital workflow and execution elements in one interface, CWM helps alleviate cost and management pres- sures on both the creative and IT organizations, lessening the need for multiple parallel tools and standardizing brand workflows in such a way to drive significant cost savings for multi-brand organizations. "The current crop of [digital asset management] tools is really limited and very expensive, said the manager of global packaging and design for a large CPG company. "Even if you do need those capabilities, it's a really tough internal sell. Ad- ditionally, such limited systems may not drive hoped-for cost re- ductions, as they require costly integrations into existing struc- tures and can only work within narrow parameters. A broader solution---addressing a wider array of business processes---is often easier for a procurement department to swallow. Using a single tool for the end-to-end management of creative and the approvals process brings other benefits, too: it decreases IT overhead, allows for easier everyday use and provides flexibility (for growth or any workflow change) through modularity. Respondents said these benefits are significant in "selling-in any new potential solution. Process management has not, traditionally, been a major focus of creative development teams. When it is done, it is usually performed ad hoc and orches- trated through a series of manual tools (the "colored folder approach, respondents said, remains ubiquitous in compa- nies both large and small). And even "digitized solutions tend to simply mimic the offline approach---with "colored e-mails and spreadsheets replacing the previous systems. "Even enterprise-level companies take a very manual ap- proach to the management of creative collateral, said one product management consultant. "And if the creative process is defined, well, it's done very loosely. The problem is particularly acute in large companies with a great variety of brands and businesses to manage. Prior to the implementation of a CWM solution, said a staff software engineer at a global CPG company, "The methodology of communicating, transmitting and sharing files was decen- tralized; the process itself was not formalized, and differed from manager to manager. With processes varying across INDUSTRY INDICATORS
Sustainable Fall 2009