Establishing best practices in the art department can save time and boost quality. Trimingham describes some methods you can use to initiate such improvements.
Proper evaluation involves the gathering of a lot of information about the department’s daily tasks. During the collection stage, categorize the details of each task and how long each takes, then record the outcome. A simple Excel chart can work for this kind of recording (Figure 1). Conduct this kind of evaluation for at least a couple of days, if not a week or two, to get a good sampling of information about time spent on tasks. Gathering information from just a day or two of work can be misleading, especially when the art department has a crazy day. Once you’ve collected the information, total it and determine averages to get a snapshot of a typical day in your art department.
Reviewing, refining, and replacing tasks
Tallying and averaging the information you gathered will make clear where some extra time can be squeezed out and which issues need to be addressed. Focusing in on the goal of efficiency and review each task be reviewed for its necessity, priority, function, and profitability. I normally assign a grade to each attribute and then look for time wasters. One company’s review of tasks revealed that there was a significant amount of time spent in customer consultations and approvals over the phone. This, combined with a labor-intensive method of generating multiple e-mail proofs for customers, meant that a good chunk of the daily art time was tied up in approvals and consults on the phone and Internet. The art director would never have believed that so many hours per week were tied up in these tasks had the organized information not been presented to him.
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