AT&T is a classic example of how the right proofing tool can handle even the most complex workflows. With over $126 billion in sales and more than 256,000 worldwide employees, the telecommunications giant is the highest ranked telecom in Forbes’ list of “The World’s Most Powerful Brands.” To reach its millions of customers in the U.S., AT&T works with agencies to develop high volumes of direct marketing collateral. Each piece of collateral requires brand, partner and legal approval before being released for production. Feedback and approval must be accurately recorded for audit purposes and each piece can have multiple variations based on customer segment and region. This adds up to an extremely complex review and approval process.
The Problem: “Email was a huge hassle and did not provide a practical audit trail…”
AT&T traditionally used email to manage its review and approval process. This required an excessively large amount of time and effort as reviewers had to deal with crammed inboxes and large PDFs that were difficult to open. Compounding the problem was that each reviewer received an individual copy of a proof to mark up, which meant there was no visibility into comments from others. Reviewers would try to provide comments in email, which led to convoluted email threads. These responses would have to be collated and new proof versions had to be produced and recirculated. Email threads also did not provide an easy, practical audit trail if there were any legal and regulatory questions that had to be answered.
Managing the proofing process using email attachments had become an administrative nightmare, especially as campaigns grew to involve multiple advertising agencies, various legal counsel and a multitude of reviewers in diverse locations. As AT&T Senior Marketing Manager Tabitha Mapes noted, “Email was a huge hassle and did not provide a practical audit trail should there be a question about a campaign.”
The Solution: “We are all very busy, so we did not want to take a huge amount of time adjusting to a new way of working.”
AT&T needed to get control of the review and approval process. Its review teams had become more virtual so it required a solution that could easily be accessed whether they were working in an office or remotely. However, management did not want to dedicate a large amount of staff time to learning a new system. One of the main requirements was for the solution to be easy to setup and easy to use. “We are all very busy, so we did not want to take a huge amount of time adjusting to a new way of working,” said Mapes. They found that ProofHQ was not only quick to deploy, but also incredibly easy to use. Reviewers needed minimal training to use the simple mark-up and commenting tools effectively.
The Results: ”ProofHQ bridges us and keeps us on the same page.”
Since implementing ProofHQ, the amount of time AT&T spends distributing, collecting and consolidating proofs has been reduced by 50%. Collaboration is much easier as reviewers see each other’s comments in the same proof rather than having managers gather comments from separate PDFs and circulating new ones. They can distribute proofs simultaneously and reviewers can do a side-by-side comparison of different proof versions. “ProofHQ bridges us and keeps us on the same page,” said Mapes. “Getting to that quality end product is made easier, not only within AT&T, but with our agencies and partners as well. It truly does streamline our ability to get proofs across to those that need to approve them.” Because each comment is name- and time-stamped, accountability is also greatly improved, making reporting and auditing much simpler. Review teams can quickly verify that they have gone through all the proper accountability steps.
AT&T now mandates that its supporting ad agencies adopt ProofHQ as part of the process of working together. “I definitely recommend ProofHQ,” said Mapes. “There are a whole number of reasons why, but the biggest ones are more effective collaboration and a better audit trail.”
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