In times of shrinking budgets, creative production outsourcing is becoming an attractive option for companies looking to save money. And, do more for less!
One concern those looking to outsource may have is quality and brand governance. Despite all the benefits of outsourcing, it is only a good thing if you’re receiving the quality you expect. Anything less than this will be a disappointment.
That’s why here at EKCS, quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA) is key. When you select EKCS as your creative production partner, you’re also selecting highly trained and specialized QC and QA teams dedicated to providing a quality project. And one where each project is checked. This starts right from the beginning.
We check the project and brief as soon as they come in, and if clarification is needed, EKCS will liaise with the client before the work starts. It is important that our production team understand the job requirements. To help with this, the client provides full briefs and brand guidelines.
EKCS uses service level agreements (SLAs) and KPIs. These tools are critical to understanding client requirements and tracking performance and improvements in our solutions. Typically, a Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is created to serve as a formal record of progress towards savings, service delivery, and innovation goals.
Examples of some of our SLAs we have with brands include:
- Area of focus: Design work
- Service Level Measure: Adherence to campaign or brand guidelines and/or deviations from guidelines agreed with the creative team.
- Measure: Percentage of items that are found to adhere to the requirements.
- Area of focus: Accuracy of work
- Service Level Measure: All amendments to artwork to be made in accordance with marked-up instructions.
- Measure: Percentage of amended versions that reflect the amendments shown on the marked-up proofs.
- Area of focus: Correct artwork is sent to print
- Service Level Measure: EKCS will ensure that only artwork approved in accordance with the sign-off process is sent to print vendors.
- Measure: Percentage of work sent to print that has been approved in accordance with the process set out in the sign-off process.
Total Quality Management (TQM)
As part of our commitment to quality, we have integrated a Total Quality Management (TQM) approach into our creative production processes. TQM emphasizes an examination of inputs and outputs as well as the maintenance of ongoing metrics to ensure consistency.
Our senior operations managers have completed a Six Sigma training program, which is a compulsory part of their leadership development. The success of our TQM approach has been validated by our ISO 9001:2008 accreditation.
We have a best practice process for each of our major service sectors, including publishing, consumer packaged goods, retail, fashion, and advertising. Managers are responsible for implementing these processes and maintaining them on an ongoing basis. This helps us achieve high quality in the following areas:
- Workflow procedures
- Job tracking and prioritization
- Processing and quality control
- Production and PDF standards
- Color management
- Metadata management
- Client communication
- Information Security and Intellectual Property Protection
- Health & Safety
- Human resource management
- Training and development
- Business continuity planning
Continuous improvement is one of our guiding principles. We believe that our ability to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers requires constant evaluation of the effectiveness of our operating models. Our time-tested continuous improvement program ensures that all work produced is on schedule, error free, and meets the appropriate technical specifications.
Our continuous improvement program is built on:
- Color Management
- A Total Quality Management based approach
- Best practice programs
- Process maps
- Design of Experiments
Together, these components enable EKCS to consistently improve turnaround times, reduce production cycles, and achieve levels of quality superior to those of our client's previous operations.
Our QC stages
EKCS uses a QC checklist to maintain the quality standard. In this checklist, best practices associated with client-specific requirements are cross-verified by QA while QC’ing the project. This checklist helps the QA perform all quality checks required on the project. Once the work is complete, the checking stages will take place, and these include:
1. A Quality Control (QC) Check
At EKCS, we examine the job brief against the creative. We ensure these are set to the correct size and format per brand guidelines and the client provided standards. Our QC team verify logos, copy, spelling, legal requirements, and other elements present in the creative, along with the client’s provided standards.
2. A Brand Aesthetics Check
It is during this stage that we confirm color shades are in line with clients’ brand guidelines, as well as check any images or icons used are relevant to the brand content.
3. A Visual Check
During our visual checks, we confirm typography is correct (no double spaces, correct use of the hyphen, font-weight, etc.) Questions we ask when carrying out visual checks include:
- Are all elements aligned and sitting within the correct guides?
- Are all corrections and mark-ups incorporated?
4. Before client sign-off
Communication is key. Our account manager or EKCS client liaison contact will inform the client about any changes or creative decisions taken. A final review ensures a visual hygiene scan of all the project components and that the checklist is complete. We approve the project our end. The account manager sends it to the client or via our workflow management system, MediaFerry
To find out more, contact EKCS today or download one of our free guides to outsourcing - https://www.ekcs.co/reports-and-white-papers/