Top 10 ways to ensure transparency and accountability in all your print productions

When people think about print production, most marketers and procurement people think about printing. Actually putting ink on paper is less than 30% of the print production cost and yet this is where most of the cost management focus is placed. In actual fact the content creation (and warehousing and distribution) makes up the majority of the print production cost. Therefore here are a few tips on getting transparency and accountability in your print production.

1. When briefing print advertising, specify not only the media type, but also extra usage requirements (ie. posters, outdoor, etc) the campaign duration, appearance frequency and variations required as these impact on the concept and budget.

2. Specify as many aspects of the production as possible; budget, quantity required, all usage and format requirements and distribution to ensure the agency can make the best recommendation.

3. Define all mandatories in the briefing, including logos, corporate colours and style guidelines to reduce any time required to incorporate these later.

4. Ask the agency to prepare a production schedule following the briefing to ensure any cost penalties are minimised due to time constraints.

5. Ask the agency to prepare a production estimate before approving a concept, to ensure the idea can be achieved within the allocated budget.

6. If photography is required, have the agency check your existing digital image assets for appropriate material before committing to the cost of new photography.

7. Hold a pre-production meeting for all photographic shoots, large or small, to ensure all aspects are approved before the first shot is taken.

8. Proof read and check all facts at every step of the finished art process as once you give approval the responsibility lies with you.

9. Ensure you review a colour accurate proof (either digital or chemical) before approving the project to go to print.

10. Contact TrinityP3 as we provide assessment, auditing, implementation and training services to ensure ultimate transparency and accountability.

Most of the stories you hear about printing disasters relate to the actual printing process – wrong colours, bound the wrong way etc and everything has to be thrown away and started again. Almost all of these are caused in the pre-production process. What disasters have you experienced or heard about? Let me know here with a comment.

4 thoughts on “Top 10 ways to ensure transparency and accountability in all your print productions

  1. So true Darren! If the agency doesn't have great practices in place it can heighten any issue that would develop due to less than perfect briefing. It's the responsibility of the client to ensure the briefing is complete and all details are provided up front and the responsibility of the agency to ensure they get this! A true partnership will back each other up with the right info and the right systems to process it!

    1. Danni, we find that the biggest issue is often no-one knows what data or processes are required. The agency captures data to run their business and most client organisations capture data for managing spend. It is not until you sit down and work out what data is required to manage issues such as workflow, resource management and measuring value that you can actually have a functional system in place. When this topic is addressed we also find that it is often decided to throw everthing into the reporting mix "just in case" and this leads to information overload and a huge pile of data no-one uses, which is just as destructive as no data at all.

  2. Hi Darren,

    Awesome topic 🙂 some very valid points, not only for client side but also a good guide line for agencies.

    From experience, clients also need to be mindful of signing off proofs. They may not aware that, there could be a significant cost if making changes after plates been made ( given if its a 4 colour press finish.). Stating penalties rate in production estimate could avoid misunderstanding.

    Great writeup Darren:)


    1. Thanks Lok. You are right about proofs as there is a belief in this technology age that changes are as simply as a few Mac Keystrokes and it is done. But printing is still a mechanical process to get ink on paper.I am surprised at the incidence of approvals by pdf when the monitor used to view the pdf is not colour balanced. But I definitely agree that the cost implications should be clearly spelt out in all documentation.

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