How to solve your creative team’s 10 trickiest workflow problems

How to solve your creative team’s 10 trickiest workflow problems

Our creative team understand just how critical a hassle-free workflow is. When your team’s trying to hit tight deadlines, the last thing they need is to be slowed down by the same old problems.

Below, we’ve listed 10 of the trickiest workflow issues that are causing trouble for creative teams, and some software solution recommendations that’ll help you fix them. You can stop pulling your hair out now.

“I need to see proof copies of my team’s work and be able to compare amends on PDF files.”

As every creative team knows, long paper trails are a real pain when it comes to proofing and amends. Luckily, there are PDF editing tools which offer document tracking and management functionality that streamline the proofing process and cut turnaround times. They should allow users to create, edit and sign PDF files, while providing cloud features that let you work on them anywhere. Keep an eye out for the ability to compare files, review differences between them, and visualise and filter changes, as well as mobile functionality that offers access to recent files across mobile, desktop and web, meaning you’ll be able to carry on working even if you’re away from your main computer. We use Adobe Acrobat DC – which offers all of the above – so we recommend giving that a look.

“I need to ensure all our staff have their devices backed up, so they can access files if they get lost or stolen.”

With a variety of options out there, such as Code42’s CrashPlan, we recommend you spend some time search for an easy to manage solution that enables users to restore lost files files without additional support from IT. Software like this works in the background of your team’s machines to silently and continuously back up all distributed end user data so you have complete visibility and control on a single, secure platform. Leading solutions will also allow your team to benefit from unlimited storage with no bandwidth caps or file type restrictions, rock solid security complete with advanced encryption for your data, and tons of backup options across numerous devices and hard drives.

“I need my team to be able to work remotely without a load of IT hassle.”

These days, lots of businesses want to equip their staff with the ability to work remotely, and there are a variety of office suite solutions that can help with this. One such example is Microsoft Office 365, which comes with apps your team should already be familiar with, and is great for handling those not so creative bits that are the backbone of organisation and productivity. Top office software makes collaboration and document sharing nice and simple, and should include the latest versions of your favourite applications in both web and mobile form, as well as cloud services that provide access to files, emails and documents anywhere, any time.

“We want to back our servers up offsite with the ability to restore any files or folders quickly and efficiently.” 

There are lots of cloud backup and storage solutions to choose from, but Backup24 is a solid choice for creative teams who need secure, offsite protection for their intellectual property and digital media assets. Solutions like this should be scalable for businesses that have over 1TB of data (with no upper data limit), and usually allow you to leave everything with the team behind the software meaning you don’t have to manage a thing. Offsite managed backup services also provide users with some great benefits too, including anytime access to data, fast and simple retrieval, zero recovery costs, over the phone support and guidance when your team needs it, and much more.

“We’re a small team who need to cut the time it takes to find and manage our digital assets.”

With so many DAM solutions to choose from, we’d suggest giving Extensis Portfolio a try (this is the solution our creative team use). Management solutions such as Protfolio are built with speed and simplicity in mind, and help cut out all that time wasted spent searching the network, browsing countless folders and consulting team members. They can be used to manage images, video, audio or documents, and automatically catalogue and extract metadata for all assets. Users should be able to organise multimedia files into refined collections, and browse, preview and search for files, while automated keyword creation and previews make it simple to quickly sift through your team’s hefty file bank. DAM solutions are usually built for a certain amount of assets as standard, but can be increased by purchasing additional asset packs.

“We need to streamline our design workflow, but have to manage a large amount of product information.” 

Keeping on top of your product information and digital assets is a key part of modern day marketing, and ensuring a high response rate across multiple sales channels is a growing task for modern businesses. With a few different solutions to choose from, we recommend finding one that offers comprehensive, integrated product management and publishing, that’s all about streamlining your team’s design workflow and bolstering your marketing and sales efforts. For this, we’d suggest a solution such as MatrixCMS. Solutions like this mean design teams and product managers can work even more closely together, and their automated tools mean you don’t need to sweat the small stuff like repagination. They should even hook into InDesign and allow for easier proofing and editing.

“We want to access files quickly and easily while on the move.” 

This stuff can get pretty technical, so your team needs a solution that combines great functionality and complete ease of use. Acronis Access Connect does a top job, with solutions like this allowing Mac users to have the same access to Windows file and print servers as PC users. They’re also packed full of features that are specifically designed to deliver the fastest file and print services available, and help resolve common cross-platform file sharing issues. Teams can also benefit from bundled mobile apps (such as the Access Connect app for iOS devices), which allow users to remotely access file shares from any location that has network access through in-app file browsers. Most such apps should also come preloaded with document editing applications that lets users to carry on working while away from their desks – ideal for proofing and amending while out and about.

“The number of products and digital assets our business needs to manage is getting out of control.”

There are a few PIM (product information management) and DAM (digital asset management) solutions around right now. When scouring the marketplace for the right software, keep an eye out for something that offers powerful cloud-based product information management system with near-infinite power to handle unlimited amounts of product information. They should also allow for total ease to use, while providing adaptable tools that let users create the rich product content that customers demand, and permit retailers to publish automatically across multiple channels. For a quality DAM solution, you want something that makes it easy for you to organise, find, retrieve and share files from a centralised digital library. It’s also ideal if the solution delivers fast, controlled access to digital assets, while managing them in the most efficient way possible and keeping all digital assets automatically associated with their relevant products through product codes. For this tall task, we think something like Pimberly is perfect.

“Our designers need to organise their font collections into a single, searchable location.” 

If your designers want to better organise their fonts, look for an intuitive, stable and secure font management solution for individual users. They should provide direct access to your font collection from within your creative applications and via the cloud. One such solution – Suitcase Fusion 7 – utilises TypeSync, which enables designers to sync their fonts on any machine. Equipped with exclusive Font Sense technology, Suitcase Fusion fingerprints each version of a font using multiple criteria. This enables the application to provide highly accurate font matching functionality.

“We want to centrally manage our typographical assets.”

For teams of any size wanting top-level control over their font collections, we’d recommend looking for an on-premises server solution that’s integrated with macOS, Windows and Adobe Creative Cloud, which is built to help creative teams streamline the management of their font collection, while reducing costs on unused fonts and avoiding legal complications. No matter how big your team’s font database, a solution like Universal Type Server 6 provides centralised storage that makes it easy to find, sort, use and distribute fonts, while also identifying fonts and even recognising duplicates. Enhanced diagnostic reports provide in-depth insights into font usage, and alerts users when unlicensed fonts are being used that could cause legal issues.

Why Jigsaw24?

If your in-house creative team are experiencing issues and want some answers, you’ll be pleased to hear that after 25 years in the game we’ve heard every workflow problem before, and our close relationships with leading vendors mean we can recommend a solution to fix them all. But whatever your team’s issue – whether it’s refining your day to day processes, automating tasks or seamlessly integrating software – we’ve got you covered with essential solutions that’ll free up your design team and give them more time to do what they do best.

If you’d like to find out more about our essential software solutions for creative teams, give us a call on 03332 400 888 or email sales@Jigsaw24.comFor all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Bridging the gap between PIM and design with MatrixCMS

Bridging the gap between PIM and design with MatrixCMS

Getting your print collateral just right requires cooperation between multiple departments: creative, marketing, product management and data teams to name just a few. Unfortunately, having so many cooks – including ones who’ve never dealt with a creative brief before – can make it difficult to get consensus on what the key focus of different spreads is, leading to rounds of time-consuming amends.

In MatrixCMS, product managers can just drag and drop elements onto a page to create a visual brief that shows products and page hierarchy, ready for designers to pick up and refine in InDesign. And best of all, it only takes minutes to create.

Design Brief from Matrix Software on Vimeo.

MatrixCMS is designed to streamline print production and centralise product information in five key ways. Here’s how it can help you bridge the gap between product management, project management and marketing…

Drag and drop creative briefs

Rather than asking your product teams to fill out a creative brief – a time-consuming and manual exercise in which they’re likely to encounter new and ambiguous instructions – MatrixCMS allows product teams to drag and drop product codes, descriptions and images onto a page to demonstrate which products need to be featured where. MatrixCMS then sends this document to your designers, who can refine the plan and design the page in InDesign.

Access to rich media assets

As well as raw product data, MatrixCMS can house product imagery and other rich media, so product managers have access to promotional materials from suppliers, plus content you’ve created in-house. Not only does this make it easier for them to add rich media to product descriptions (great for increasing online engagement), it makes it far simpler for them to see their options when it comes to images for print marketing, and identify images that have been used previously or are out of date. This way, they can manage visual assets in the same way they do data, so internal marketing teams will always have the most up to date imagery and assets.

Centralised product information

MatrixCMS stores all your product information in one central repository, so you have a single version of the truth that can then be pushed out to all your web and print channels, ensuring your product data is always consistent. It reduces the risk of customers encountering conflicting data if they check two sources, as all your channels can be updated at once. And because your staff are no longer manually updating each and every product on each and every channel, they have more time to invest in moving the business forward.

 

 

Template-driven automation

Common marketing types can be templated so that any staff member (or reseller, if you’re providing materials for people further down the sales chain) can update images and text, if the job is too small or time-critical to be referred to a dedicated team. For example, staff at Flight Centre produce personalised itineraries for each of their clients.

Integrated approval systems

Workflow tools are built right into MatrixCMS, so project managers can see the status of various pages of a project, and use automated alerts to ensure design, product and data teams get the right information at the right time. MatrixCMS also supports an automated approval workflow, where proofs are distributed, annotated and signed off from within the software, rather than incurring extra print costs by carrying out hard copy approvals.

Want to find out more? Give our team a call on 03332 400 888, email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and tips, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Print in the digital age (or, why you should care about catalogues in 2017)

Print in the digital age (or, why you should care about catalogues in 2017)

Over the last few years, digital marketing has made its way to the heart of most companies’ marketing strategies. Whether you were won over by the instantaneous nature of social channels, the ‘stickiness’ of video content or the eye-popping possibilities afforded to us by recent advances in VR, chances are print is no longer the most exciting part of your marketing strategy. Which is odd, because it still works. 

As recently as mid-2015, the DMA were reporting direct mail response rates were nearly 600% higher than for digital channels, and it’s still pulling ahead of digital channels in this year’s report (heads up: it’s a paid paper). And research by Royal Mail has shown that, regardless of which age group you look at, 26.7% of consumers say that they’ve purchased something as the result of direct mail in the last year.

So why is direct mail still working?

A popular theory is that unlike, say, emails and social media notifications, which some consumers are receiving an almost overwhelming number of, well-crafted print pieces have rarity value. Their very unusualness makes them eye-catching and memorable, meaning your messaging stays front of mind for longer.

And if you combine this with personalisation – one of everyone’s predicted hot trends for 2017, as it leads to a rumoured lift in profits ranging from 31% to 10% depending on who you ask – you can use print to make a lasting impact on your audience.

Even the cost per acquisition, a metric that you’d assume would get increasingly shaky for print as online advertising becomes better targeted, has stayed reasonable thanks to the shift to digital printing and a variable print workflow, which allows greater economy at smaller scales. You can even provide different areas of your organisation with templated documentation that they can personalise for customers and then send to print on an as-needed basis.

This means you can supply customers or groups with uniquely targeted content and still have money left over to invest in other channels, something that’s reflected in the fact that 52% of DMA respondents are now combining at least three channels on any given campaign. A highly personalised print piece can be used to generate initial impact, then transition customers over digital channels such as email and social. It also provides an element of trustworthiness – we’re all more likely to open the brochure of a company we don’t know than click on their pop-up add – that can translate to more ready engagement on the consumer’s part once you’ve moved them to the digital pipeline.

Streamlining print production

While many of us are already cutting print costs by opting for digital over offset printing, it’s also worth bearing in mind that streamlining in-house production can bring down the cost of print media by making things more efficient in-house.

Centralised, accurate data, a streamlined approvals amends process and easy-to-use team management tools all help make things run more smoothly. Seeing them combined with PIM and CRM functionality in tools like MatrixCMS is likely to become increasingly common as we see the demand for content become more immediate and the number of channels content is duplicated to increases. After all, why update your catalogues and web platforms separately when you could drive them both from the same system?

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email business@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

MatrixCMS: Untangling your marketing team

MatrixCMS: Untangling your marketing team

Marketing team being pulled between updating websites, catalogues, mobile content, emails and ERP systems? This video shows how MatrixCMS can help untangle your marketing team… 

Want to find out more? Give our team a call on 03332 400 888, email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and tips, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Buyers’ guide 2015: Content delivery

Buyers’ guide 2015: Content delivery

If you’ve seen our earlier articles telling you that your workstation could be better and that your office is disorganised, you might have formed the impression that we’re a mean-spirited bunch. Not so! We’re only cruel to be kind and, now that you’re incredibly organised and powering through projects, it’s time to think about how you want to show your work off.

Option 1: The Oversharer

Apple TV is a great alternative to an old school projector/monitor setup, or manually linking your laptop to a display. You can use it to mirror the screen of any Apple device to a larger display, and when the presentation’s over you can go back to using the screen for other things. (It also means you can play iTunes content on a giant screen in your boardroom, if that’s the sort of small rebellion you enjoy.)

Option 2: The Multitasker

If you want to take things a bit further, you can set up multiple, linked NEC screens and schedule content to play on throughout the day. We recommend using a nifty bit of software called sedna Presenter. This scheduling application is designed to specifically deal with Apple kit and the content produced on it. If you value what our AV consultant calls “the Apple look” – ie very clean, chirp graphics – send Presenter will help you ensure your content retains this on any display.

You’ll need to hook Presenter up to a Mac mini or two in order to manage your screens (don’t worry – we’ll set you up and supply training), but then you’ll be able to schedule content to play across your site from a single, central unit.

Option 3: The Show Off

If you want to add more screens across more sites, or show more than a slideshow of video and images, you’ll need to step things up slightly. Get in touch with our AV team for advice on custom setups including: video walls, interactive signage, using Apple devices as kiosk displays along with custom apps and interfaces (we love a good iPad kiosk), and, most importantly, tech support should anything go wrong.

Alternative delivery methods include…

Livestreaming content to the web or signage

NewTek’s TriCaster range gives you all the tools you need to start livestreaming, with larger models supporting up to eight cameras, VTR feeds, chromakey and on the fly graphics editing. If you’re just getting started, pair the simpler TriCaster Mini with encoding software from Matrox and Telestream Episode Engine to create a universally supported streaming service.

Delivering direct to apps

If you’re looking for something you can do straight from your iMac, we have good news. Adobe DPS is an extension of your Adobe apps that allows you to transform InDesign documents into interactive digital publications and distribute them through the App Store, Amazon Marketplace and Google Play. No muss, no fuss, just interactive content built in nice, familiar InDesign. Easy win.

Printing your project out (in 3D!)

We stock a full range of professional and large format printers, we offer loads of different colour charts and have our very own ink and toner configurator, but what we really want to talk about are 3D printers. We’re not saying you should find an excuse to start 3D printing in-house, but the godlike feeling that comes from watching your creation appear before your very eyes is pretty satisfying. They’re also good for rapid modelling and low cost prototyping.

…and you can speed all this up with MatrixCMS

MatrixCMS is a multi-channel, multi-platform eCommerce solution that supports multiple SKUs, images, pricing and descriptions for different markets and territories. As well as dovetailing neatly with your PIM solution, MatrixCMS is integrated with InDesign, meaning your designers can create and distribute content without having to learn a new programme from the ground up. To find out more, register for a free online demo at their site (you need to scroll down a fair bit).

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email business@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.