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3 Myths About Input Validation That Are Hurting Your Speed To Market

Posted By: SGK November 03, 2014

Getting packaging, promotional, digital and other branded materials to market quickly can feel overwhelming. And while it is daunting to address all the sources of delay that slow your brand’s delivery to market, focusing your efforts on key areas, including validation of inputs, will help you achieve your desired results. 

Validating your inputs might seem like a no-brainer, but most organizations struggle with this because it’s actually pretty hard. But don’t avoid it! Doing so will do more harm than good. 

Here are three myths that could be hurting your speed to market: 

1.    The sooner we start, the sooner we’ll finish. 
Design managers, production managers and agency PMs are under enormous pressure from Brand and Sales to “just go,” but this is a practice that must be abandoned. While this “fix-it-later” attitude may work anecdotally, at the enterprise level it drives multiple rounds of time-consuming revisions into both the creative and production processes. It also increases work-in-progress for the entire team, which stretches resources thin and reduces focus where it’s actually needed. This ASAP mentality allows projects to kick off with underdeveloped or missing briefs, dielines, approvals or instructions. This habit is a root cause of design and production revisions. Strong discipline and unwavering leadership are required to break it. 

2.    Something is better than nothing. 
Emphasis needs to be placed not only on collecting inputs, but also on the right inputs. Proceeding with inadequate inputs is just as bad as having no inputs. Validation implies something more rigorous than volume—it implies that the inputs are good and useful, which requires qualitative scrutiny. Thoroughly evaluate your inputs and institute a formal process to highlight and react to chronic inadequacies. In manufacturing, it's common practice for downstream teams to huddle with upstream teams at the end of every day to verify components and identify areas of improvement. While manufacturing and packaging are very different industries, creating tight feedback loops with your internal customers and partners can be instituted anywhere. Formalizing communication and validation of process inputs will result in reduced confusion, reduced rework, and fewer delays.

3.    If you want it done right, do it yourself. 
Most people can't (or shouldn't) focus on input validation and input completeness. Marketers have too many high priority activities competing for their time, so they do a poor job of wrangling inputs and people. When producers (i.e., Design managers, designers, and production folk) are tasked with input management, the task directly competes with their primary function, which ensures that input collection and evaluation will receive only second-tier focus. Good inputs should be a primary focus for process managers or support resources that have dedicated capacity for this task. Establishing appropriate accountability will improve input quality and completeness and dramatically improve process speed.

The difference between organizations who do validation well and those who struggle is striking. Organizations who have stringent validation procedures in their packaging workflows see more than 85% of all packaging changes approved in one round!

Organizations with poor validation procedures perform much worse, with only 60 percent of changes approved in two cycles or fewer. This 25-percentage-point difference can translate into thousands of hours of lost workforce capacity, weeks added to each project, and significant change fees from agencies and production partners.

Optimize your validation procedures and get your branded materials to market more quickly and efficiently. Learn more in our white paper: 6 Ways To Get Your Branded Materials To Market Faster.