A guide to evaluating online proofing software (Part I)

By Jodie Byass


It's one thing to realise you need online proofing software to enhance your team's work performance. It's another to find the right solution that does exactly that. Many businesses have gone in search of approval workflow software and, not fully understanding the selection process, have been burned with the wrong solution. Here's Part I of our guide to evaluating online proofing software to ensure you select the right one for your business.

Before you even begin to research online proofing software, you first have to determine some internal processes and practices. This phase is often overlooked in the selection process and yet, it's a vital one.


1. Map out your approval workflow. 
Foremost, it's important to understand the intricacies of your approval workflow so you can determine how you want the online proofing software to enhance your work. Points to outline:

  • Who typically briefs projects in?
  • Who manages projects and resources? 
  • Which departments/stakeholders provide feedback? 
  • How is feedback sent and collated? 
  • How many artwork revisions per project on average? 
  • How is final approval received?
Once you have a clear understanding of your unique approval workflow, you can move on to the next step.

2. Outline the creative content your creative team produces.

It's likely the artwork your team produces is varied, so you need to ensure that the online proofing software you select can manage all types of files. Write down all the creative content you produce such as advertising (print and digital), videos, websites, marketing collateral, packaging, etc. Be sure to note how often you deal with particular mediums and the design software used to produce marketing content. It's also useful to jot down the general duration of particular campaigns.

3. Consider how your online proofing software will work with your current marketing solutions.
The impetus for seeking out online proofing software is to enhance your operations. Therefore, it's prudent to understand how the software will work along side, or potentially be integrated with, other marketing tools. List the current technologies your teams are working with and consider how online proofing software will work in conjunction with these. If they need to be integrated, then consider whether there will be a cost associated with this.

4. Confer with your IT department about storage and security measures.
Talk to your IT department about storage limitations and security to ensure you select online proofing software that will conform with your organisation's standard protocols.

5. Consider the implementation process.
It's at the adoption phase that the implementation of new technologies often fails, so make sure you consider how your team would prefer to be trained. While user guides are handy, would your team benefit from more hands on training? If so, then you need to make sure that staff will be available for and committed to training sessions. Also think about whether your team will require ongoing support and then ensure the vendor you select offers this.

6. Outline your budget and what you expect to get out of implementing online proofing software.
Before you start researching vendors, you need to have a budget set for purchasing online proofing software. A way to do this is look at how you think the solution will improve your approval workflow and how these benefits will translate into profits.

  • Do you expect less artwork revisions as a result?
  • Do you expect a faster turnaround on approvals because this will be managed more effectively?
  • Will the quality of output be enhanced and, therefore, keep clients happier and attract new work?
  • Additionally, think about whether you want a solution that requires a one off payment or a month-by-month payment plan.

Next week in Part II of this blog series, we'll take a look at the second phase of the selection process: How to evaluate online proofing software to ensure you select the right match for your business.

In the meantime, I can recommend downloading our Guide to Online Proofing to learn about some key features and benefits of online proofing software. 

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