Even in today’s fast-paced “need-it-now” environment, proofing is still an important part of the print production workflow. Thankfully, proofing print jobs online is now easier and widely accepted. Today, tools to facilitate online proof approvals have been integrated in cloud-based Print MIS software such as Ordant.
While there are some instances in which clients should sign off on color-accurate hard-copy proofs, online proofing is perfectly acceptable for many short-run, lower-cost print projects that will only be used for a limited time.
Online proofing provides five important benefits.
Online proofing saves time. If the client needs the job delivered in a day or two, you don’t have time to waste printing, sending,and re-printing hard copies of proofs until the job is perfect. A job can be proofed and approved within hours.
It saves materials.The best way for a client to see what the finished job will look like is to print a one-off copy using the exact inks and materials that will be used for the entire run. While this is possible on a digital printer, it’s really not practical if you must interrupt longer production jobs on different materials. On large-format projects, every hard-copy proof consumes ink and materials that may not have been factored into the estimate.
Online proofing of print jobs automatically creates an easy-to-retrieve record. With a good proof-approval management system, you can retain a searchable, archived record of all the proofs you sent to that client. You have a timeline of when the proofs were sent, viewed, and approved.
It can avoid costly mistakes. When everyone in your prepress and production staff can easily view the changes a client requested to a job, mistakes are less likely to slip through. In the unlikely event that a prepress employee overlooked a requested change, someone in your production department could catch the error. This isn’t as easy to do when proofs and charge requests are stored in hard-copy files.
Online proofing can help avoid disputes. When you have an electronic record of when the proofs were sent and approved, you can explain why a job was delivered slightly later than promised. Disclaimers supplied with the proof can warn the customer that failure to approve the proof by the agreed-upon date could delay final delivery of the job.
How to Reap the Benefits
To maximize all of the business benefits of enabling your clients to proof print jobs online, take steps to educate your clients and expedite the proof approval process.
Use software to automatically send a link to view press-ready PDFs. Include an email that explains when you need the proof to be approved in order to stay on schedule. Ordant software makes this easy to do.
Post clear, simple instructions on your website. Let clients know what to expect during every stage of the printing process. Advise them that when they receive the email with a link to the proof, they should review the proof carefully and return it promptly.
Post guidelines on how to review a proof. Very few people are trained as print buyers anymore. Many customers may not realize what to look for. Explain that sometimes digital files can become corrupted and cause inaccuracies in how the job will be printed. Are all of the fonts correct? Is everything in proper position? Are key elements of the design missing?
Remind them the content of the piece should be proofed before submitting the job. But acknowledge that sometimes details (e.g. event location) may change. In that case, you can make the correction before the job goes to press.
Explain the limitations of online proofing. Caution buyers that the colors they see on their screen may look different from the final print. If customers are concerned about accurate color reproduction, outline the steps involved in color-managed soft proofing or offer to provide hard-copy proofs.
Make the process customer-friendly. To retain clients you worked so hard to attract, make sure that every communication they have with your company doesn’t detract from the overall experience. The proofing process is a customer “touchpoint” that affects how people view your firm’s brand.
Ideally, the timeliness and quality of your proofs will “wow” the client. But if your client is disappointed and wants to make changes, your staff must handle the situation with tact and finesse. Your customers will regard your company unfavorably if your customer-service team reacts to change requests with condescension or irritation.
Over time, the online proofing process can help you determine which clients are easy to work with, which ones make unreasonable demands, and which ones simply need more education.
At Ordant, we believe an expedited proof approval process is critical to the long-term profitability of your printing business. That’s why a proof approval system is included with the estimating, customer relationship management, order management, and scheduling features of our Print MIS program. For a demonstration of the proof approval process in Ordant software, please schedule a demo at www.ordant.com