Measuring your artwork service

Measuring your artwork service

You have reviewed your artwork service, perhaps in response to a recall incident, made some improvements to the process and tightened up your training but have the changes given you the outcome you desired? The danger is, unless you have some metrics in place, you do not know for sure. In this article, I introduce the need for measuring your artwork service, what measures are key and the part played by the Governance team.

You have made changes to your process but has anything improved?

The company artwork service is not usually a focus for senior management until there has been some sort of crisis.  Examples are when artwork is going to be a bottleneck in the launch plans, or there has been a recall caused by artwork errors. Then management swings into action, investigation and improvement teams are established, changes are made but have these made a difference?

It is important that leaders establish what improvements are required, and ensure they are aligned with customers’ needs. We often find that no measures have been established for the artwork service, or if they do exist, they are not robustly reported. So, it’s key to decide what metrics are important, and get a baseline measurement before changes are made.  If you don’t know your baseline performance, how do you know the change has been successful?

Choosing the right metrics for your service: ‘Right-first-time’ is always relevant

We always consider that ‘right-first-time’ is the fundamental metric for an artwork service.  This is a simple pass or fail metric – did the artwork pass through the process once or was any change required?  Focussing on getting artwork right-first-time means things that are not correct are eliminated early in the process and potential sources of errors are designed out.  The later errors are caught in the process, the greater the risk of an error not being detected and resulting in product recall.  This is equally relevant in product launches and routine changes.

Getting artwork through right-first-time will also improve capacity, reduce lead-times, and improve schedule adherence, as it will not be cycling through each team 2, 3 or maybe 4 times.  Stable and predictable lead-times enables more robust launch plans.  Therefore, measurement of lead times, schedule adherence and numbers of artwork cycles are important to demonstrate your service performance is in control.

Measuring how many artworks are raised and closed is necessary to ensure you are managing your capacity.  This will give you the volumes of work and the resources required, but also indicate if the service is providing the necessary throughput or becoming a bottleneck. Obviously, if more are being raised than are being closed, you are heading for an issue.  Improving capacity by investing in extra resources will certainly help, but you need to know where to target this resource – it may not be in your company!

Ownership of the measures by the team and the Governance group is key

In previous blogs I have talked about the importance of having a cross-functional governance group, as improving quality is only achievable if all the various groups work together. The saying goes ‘you only manage what you measure’ and it certainly sharpens everyone’s minds if the metrics are reported at weekly team meetings and a monthly governance meeting.

In my next series of articles, I will look at various tips to improve your right-first-time measure.

To help you in your Artwork Improvement Program, you can also find useful information in my book Developing and Sustaining Excellent Packaging Labelling and Artwork Capabilities


Should you have any questions about this or any other of my blogs, or would simply like to request a copy of my booklets, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly on my email.

For more information on artwork, go to our free download section.