- Five file versions on the server say "Final Approved."
- The printer delivered a reprint and it does not match the color from the first run.
- Rush legal edits need to be made to last month's outsourced flash banner --you don't have the source files.
- The printer forgot to deliver your samples, and the Account Manager is standing at your desk with the client on hold.
- The delivery truck showed up at the delivery location loading dock without an appointment--again.
- The proof sent to the client was from two revisions ago.
- The files released to the printer have "F.P.O." images in place.
- A client landing page has an old logo version.
- The vendor proofs arrived with incorrect color builds--the art director altered them to print on the in-house color printer for a client meeting.
- The client needs a print brochure saved as a low-res PDF for the website--file revisions were made at the printer and it was never sent back to the agency.
- When I sat down to write this post, I thought I couldn't come up with ten scenarios. When I reflected back on my 20+ year career in project management and production, they kept coming! I unfortunately learned the hard way the attention to detail necessary at every stage of the creative process and the importance of a Quality Assurance program. A QA program benefits many--the creative team, subcontracted freelance, outside vendors and clients all benefit.
For the creative team, they are used to working within corporate brand standards, so a QA program should not seem foreign. With the implementation of any program, there is a learning curve, but rest assured in several weeks the benefits of fewer reworks, less frustration and greater accountability should be evident.
For subcontracted freelance and outside vendors, a QA program provides policies and procedures for partnering with the in-house agency. The program should encourage a partnership where both parties make an effort to minimize errors and eliminate extra charges or delays. Over time freelance and vendor partners should feel like a trusted resource in helping the in-house agency confidently extend their capabilities.
For clients, having a QA program provides an extra layer of protection when executing their work. The QA program demonstrates an understanding of the importance of the brand and the proactive steps taken to make sure they are followed.
When determining elements of a QA program, consider whatever pain points the department is experiencing. Assure that senior leadership approves the quality standards and that any deal breakers are addressed. Once the QA program is in place, understand that it needs to be maintained. Client standards change, new clients and vendors come onboard and technology evolves; make sure each area within the in-house agency has a QA program manager responsible for updating, maintaining and distributing the QA policies. Include quarterly meetings to track and document performance. Your client will thank you and keep returning.