Right-first-time tips 6 and 7: Ensuring effective training and cross-functional governance

Right-first-time tips 6 and 7: Ensuring effective training and cross-functional governance

I believe right-first-time is a key metric and mindset for your artwork process and in this article, I continue my series on top tips to improve it, looking at tip 6, ensuring all the people in the process have the appropriate skills, competencies and capabilities for the role they play and tip 7 making sure there is an effective cross-functional governance.

Looking first at tip 6, the need for appropriate skills, competencies and capabilities for each role.

Each role has a different set of requirements – need the right ‘fit’ for each role

You need a range of skills throughout the end-to-end process. Each step requires a different set of abilities, from creation of the artwork through to the several review and approval stages. People need to show they have the right skills to perform the role but also demonstrate they can use their skills to perform the job successfully. Having the right mind set gives the complete capability for the role.

The artwork coordinator who orchestrates the whole process will require a different skill set to the proof-reader who does the most detailed check of the artwork. The proof reader needs to be highly detail conscious and be comfortable working alone for most of their working day. The coordinator must be much more people oriented to ensure the artwork is progressed through the business. So, it’s important to define what you are looking for in each role, value the differences and select people accordingly.

Recognise some staff are performing tasks daily, some more infrequently

It’s important to recognise that, although there are many people involved in this process, many do it only as a small part of their role. In addition, regulatory people in the affiliates who perform the local language review and approval checks, will be doing these tasks quite infrequently. Also, these people tend to change more frequently than those in the central artwork and regulatory teams.

This situation means it is likely there are less experienced people performing tasks in some roles, so it is important to plug this gap with good SOPs and training. Procedures in these areas must give the correct level of detail to enable people to do the job effectively and controls need to be in place so access to systems only happens when the staff have completed the required training modules. Unfortunately, often when we review the SOPs, held centrally and at the affiliates, we discover that the comprehensive SOPs cover the tasks done centrally but SOPs for work done in the affiliates are very high level, lacking essential detail.  It should be almost the other way around.

Education and training are key – monitor the effectiveness of the different approaches

SOPs are important but to ensure people have the correct skills and are competent to do the role means effective education and training needs to be provided. Initial training when a process is revised, new starter training, specialist training for certain roles like proof-reading and special focus for those involved in the review and approval steps needs to be considered.

The range of people to reach means a variety of approaches need to be taken. Staff in more remote areas may have web-based training, on and offline training and even recorded videos. There should be a requirement to pass an assessment, following the SOP training.

The effectiveness of the different approaches needs to be monitored, so when issues arise it is useful to identify if inadequate training has been the root cause.

Now let’s turn to my seventh tip which is to make sure there is an effective cross-functional governance.

Governance group – required as the process works across many departments

When you ‘walk’ the complete artwork process from end-to-end you realise it touches many departments and external groups. If the ambition is to achieve an excellent artwork service, then each part has a contribution to make in achieving right-first-time.

I always recommend putting in place a governance group with representatives of the key functions. In most cases this is a new group, as existing groups do not have appropriate cross-functional or geographical representation, or do not have the bandwidth to do the job effectively. If a steering committee was in place for a process redesign the governance group may grow out of this but potentially with more senior members. The members need to be selected with enough authority to carry out their responsibilities and represent their functions/geography effectively.

Leadership needs to take accountability for the performance of their function

Reviewing the right-first-time figures at the governance meeting, with sufficient root-causing activity, should highlight areas where the process just seems to ‘get struck’. Each representative then needs to work to resolve issues that have arisen in their areas of responsibility, in the interests of the whole artwork supply chain.

The leadership team needs to agree to a common vision and sponsor improvements

Good sponsorship means ensuring they agree to a common vision and this vision is communicated out to the organisation, resources provided and any stakeholder conflicts resolved. The team should set out the standard required of the service and agree how its performance will be measured, of which right-first-time will be one of the main measures. The group will also agree priorities for improvement projects identified.

The frequency of meetings will depend on the organisation but I would recommend setting them up on at least a quarterly basis.

In my next article, I will look at my next two tips, tip 8 looking at what is required regarding IT tools and tip 9 factoring in the time and facilities to produce quality work.


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.

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