Right-First-Time tip 1: Measure it

Right-First-Time tip 1: Measure it

Right-first-time, I believe, is a key metric and goal for your artwork process and in these next set of articles, I will discuss my suggested top tips for improving this measure.  In this first article, I will talk through the need for measuring, who looks at the figures, where in the process to measure and what types of changes to include.

How to measure right-first-time and where are the figures reported

There are many ways you could measure right-first-time, but in our view it is a simple pass or fail metric – did the artwork pass through the process once or was any change required? The calculation should be straightforward – the number of artworks completed right-first-time divided by the total number of new artworks created (note: we would not include non-right-first-time revisions in this total). This gives a percentage right-first-time. This can be used to give a baseline performance and set targets for the process. As you remove sources of error this will enable the team to track the improvements.

You manage what you measure

It is important the team own this measure and use it to drive improvement and there are a few points to consider here. Trending the measure will show all if performance is improving or declining. Setting clear targets to be achieved shows the performance gap to be closed. A process for the team to analyse the reasons why the artwork requires reworking will help understand what is going wrong (and I will talk about this later in a further tip).

In addition, the figures need to be reviewed regularly by the cross-functional governance group. Errors can arise from many sources and the support of the governance team will be required to help resolve these across the many impacted departments.

So where in the process do you measure and what do you include?

Many companies already measure right-first-time, but there are many differences in the scope of what is measured.
There are numerous points through the end-to-end process where right-first-time should be checked: at the approval of the artwork brief, after creation of the artwork, after proof reading, after artwork approval, after receipt of packaging materials, to name a few.  You need to consider the milestone and rework points in your process and measure right-first-time at those points. To avoid the risk of an error being released to the public, you need to drive your right-first-time performance as early in the process as possible.

There are numerous types of artwork change – new products, safety updates, technical changes, line trial components. Some are easier than others, but even though it may be difficult to achieve right-first-time for some, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t manage. However, you may wish to report different types of change separately with different initial targets for each.

Artwork quality standards should be as high as expected for a production document

GMP drives your manufacturing and packaging operation to produce a high quality process so the products produced are safe for the patient. Producing artwork should be considered in the same way. Errors need to be driven out so you end up with a safe, repeatable right-first-time process.

In the next article, I will explore this topic further and discuss my second tip, which looks at categorising the types of errors found so you can eliminate them one by one.

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.