A cloud-based Online Proofing system can be a viable solution for printing businesses and any businesses involving creative approval processes.
In the past, proofing was only possible by printing a smaller or lower-resolution version of the creative product and show it physically to our client. Nowadays, however, we can send a digital file as an email attachment, and with the wide availability of color-accurate displays (even on mobile devices), reviewers can do the approval process on screen.
However, email-based communication is often ineffective and inefficient in facilitating an approval process. Those who have dealt with the email-based proofing and approval process must be familiar with the hassle of searching through hundreds of emails in an email chain to find a version of the deliverable.
This is where the online proofing system comes in.
What is an Online Proofing System?
An online proofing system is a software solution that acts as a centralized, cloud-based hub for digital assets. Collaborators and stakeholders of the approval process can upload files, leave comments and feedback, and sign off the approval process in a single software.
The online proofing system typically also provides advanced markup and annotation tools, allowing collaborators to communicate their feedback on the project more effectively and efficiently.
While different online proofing systems might vary in features, most of them offer similar basic functionalities:
- A centralized hub where all discussion, feedback, and file revisions happen directly within the online proofing system
- Allowing all collaborators to view each other’s feedback to minimize confusion
- Easily view and track multiple file versions
- Automatic archiving to prevent collaborators from mistakenly viewing and editing outdated versions
An online proofing system will streamline the review and approval process, reduce the number of revisions with each approval process, eliminate missed deadlines, and ultimately improve the productivity of the creative team and the whole organization.
With an online proofing system, we can eliminate various issues that often happen in traditional proofing and email-based proofing processes, including:
- Manually printing out proofs, saving on paper, ink, and courier costs
- Creating and managing complex spreadsheets
- Long email chains with too many attachments
- Chasing reviewers endlessly for approvals
- Keeping track of who has viewed and responded
And so on.
However, online proofing will only be a success if we get the right online proofing system to cater to our creative projects’ needs. Below, we will discuss how we should evaluate different online proofing systems and choose the right one for your business.
Evaluating Online Proofing System: Key Considerations
Evaluating different online proofing systems can be challenging and time-consuming, and you can shorten the process by knowing where to look.
Here are some key considerations to have when evaluating online proofing systems so you can quickly focus on the specific requirements you’ll need from the solution:
1. Your Current Proofing Process
Before anything else, you should assess your current proofing and approval processes to ensure the online proofing system can indeed help with workflow automation. Also, you should make sure the system can be integrated (fairly) easily into your existing process.
It’s important to gather input from your collaborators and stakeholders to collect as much data as you can about the issues that are currently happening in your approval process. They can provide valuable insights that can help you decide whether the implementation of the online proofing system would be effective.
You should consider:
- Individuals and teams will participate in the online proofing process.
- The number of revision cycles that typically happen in your current approval process.
- Specific issues you experience in current approval processes
- The exact steps of your review process (if it’s a sequential process)
Types and Volume of Content
Another essential factor to consider is the type and volume of content that will be (regularly) reviewed. For example, if you frequently produce video content, you should make sure your chosen online proofing system supports your video format(s).
Also, check whether the online proofing system can accommodate your workload while also considering future scalability and fluctuations in volume. This includes fluctuations in the number of collaborators/reviewers.
- What file types do you frequently use?
- Your average monthly volume.
- Whether you have consistent volume day-to-day or whether there are fluctuations.
2. Sharing and Authentication
On the one hand, you’d want to make sure the online proofing system is easy to use and intuitive, especially if you involve external clients. However, we also need to consider data security and integrity.
It would help if you decided whether your reviewers (primarily external parties) will need input credentials (usernames and passwords, tokens, etc.) to access proof files or whether an email invitation is sufficient.
- The number of reviewers in a typical review process
- Whether external reviewers need to be authenticated
- Do you need your online proofing system to be custom-branded with your logo
3. Details of The Review Process
You should consider:
- Whether you’ll need markup and annotation tools or would text commenting tools be sufficient
- Do you need to attach files to comments?
- How interactive would you need the feedback system?
- Is there a final decision maker? (Gatekeeper)
- Do you need to confirm the identity of the person submitting the approval decision? (i.e. electronic signature)
- Will you need to customize decisions?
4. Data Security
It’s essential to confirm whether the online proofing system can adequately protect your data and information:
- List your organization’s security requirements for digital assets
- What kind of storage does the online proofing system provide?
- How frequently is the system updated?
- Assess the online proofing system’s security track record
- Single sign-on with SAML 2.0 for extra security
If your proofing workflow is part of the more significant production or project management process, consider how the online proofing system would integrate with your existing infrastructure.
WeAproove online proofing system, for example, offers integration with more than 1,000 Zapier applications.