Excepting the singular visions of individuals and the rare, very small-scale projects that don’t need input from others to develop, collaboration is an essential part of the creative process. When print collateral is involved, it’s impossible to not have a collaborative process. Unless a single employee is doing everything from developing the concept and performing color matching duties to working the printing press and delivering the materials, collaboration is inevitable.

Collaboration on the creative side of a project often leads to a more complete and fully realized idea. Similar cooperation in terms of technical aspects – production, distribution, delivery – has a direct impact on the success of the direct marketing, outreach or branding effort at hand. Let’s explore a few of the most important reasons why collaboration is vital for developing a final product:

Collaboration removes uncertainty and doubt
When employees in the same company are working inside informational silos, the lack of communication and information sharing an be a significant problem. Key details aren’t communicated effectively, in-depth discussions are difficult or impossible and the finished product may not meet everyone’s standards. In terms of collaboration between many different companies on print projects, slightly more than four on average, according to our research – these problems become more severe.

The chance for mistakes multiplies, as it’s difficult to find the right information or get in touch with the printer or the distributor. The possibility of multiple versions of directions or guiding documents also comes into play, meaning stakeholders may think they’re doing the right thing while not actually following the most recent or correct form of guidance.

It’s a simple enough concept, but it bears repeating: When strong collaborative tools and processes are in place, many avoidable errors are brushed aside. The lack of information common in fragmented, siloed approaches is replaced with a high level of interaction that tends to find problems and develop solutions. With the right systems to enable collaboration, everyone involved can be more confident and proactive.

Collaboration reduces change orders and improves change management
From a high-level, long-term perspective, it’s easy to see why the benefits of collaboration are often touted as general operational improvements, framed as casting more lights on processes and procedures. In a more practical consideration, however, effective collaboration cuts down the number of change orders associated with a given item and makes teams more agile in regard to change management.

One interesting and related note from our research is that project timelines are remaining stable, but the intricacy and complexity of those same efforts are increasing. In other words, project teams have to deal with more involved processes without gaining additional time to work through all the related issues. Strong collaboration and a powerful system for sharing information allow employees to do more with the same deadlines in place. Comparing businesses using our own platform with those that don’t, the difference is clear. Users of our system manage an average 533 line items per year. Among those that don’t, 44 percent of respondents reported a level of 250 or less, and 30 percent said they manage less than 175 items.

This same noticeable difference arises in change management efforts as well. Our survey found about 32 percent of those responding said change orders are simply a fact of life in terms of print production, occurring frequently or nearly all of the time. On the other hand, users of our systems found change orders impacting costs occurred for only about 5 percent of all orders.

It’s true that collaboration removes uncertainty and doubt from the process of developing print collateral, but that statement is also hard to back up with specific facts on such a high level. By drilling down into the areas of change orders and change management, it’s easy to see a a few areas where these efficiencies in operations are realized. With the right mindset and employees utilizing the best tools, collaboration has direct, positive impacts on business operations.