by Kim Temples | Comments: 0

Elateral's Vice President World Client Services Kim Temples lays down 5 questions you should think about before you set out to automate your templates.

Automation makes sense. Why pay for someone to rebuild the artwork again and again. That’s the first decision you’ve made. It’s also the first step on a journey that will require many choices. How much freedom? How many times will you reuse the layout? Will logos change? Is there legal text? Will this need to be updated?

Let’s start with the traditional model, the one you’re comfortable with. Your agency designs you a template, you sign this off and then pay to have each template to be made as you require them. If you need to change something you have the template modified and start using that one. Let’s call this a one level process. To change it you only need to go through one level of processes.

But now you’ve got the technology to automate the template processing. This will cut production time and allow you to focus your resource and attention elsewhere, a great ROI. However you have now added an extra layer to your process – automation of the template. This is where you need to be careful. Get it right and you’ll reap the rewards, get it wrong and it can be costly.

Templates are all about balance. Getting this correct is the key to success. We’ve distilled this down into 5 questions to ask yourself before you go through the process.

Question 1 - How often will this template be ordered?

We ask this because sometimes a template is not the answer. To get a good ROI from the investment you make in a template you need to reach a threshold. Ask yourself where is the breakeven point? You need to use your budget wisely to get the maximum ROI from a template. You might not want to create a template for a Postcard that will only be ordered twice. Instead, put in processes that trigger a template build once a defined order number is reached.

Question 2 - Do I know my rules?

We need to know how you want your templates to work. Before, your agency knew the rules and this was easy. Now the rules are held on a computer and have to be programmed. Look at your artwork and highlight all the rules. Templates need to be told and so do we.

Question 3 - How much freedom do I want to give to the user?

Think of it as a sliding scale. The quickest way is to lock everything down. As you add choice think about how these should work. For an example, would you prefer to have an editable headline or a choice of headlines? Keep the end user in mind. Locking things down sometimes alienates the user – think about making a headline editable with preloaded text. Just because people have the option doesn’t mean they’ll use it. Sometimes they just like to have the option, regardless of whether they use it or not.

Question 4 - Will there be changes to text later?

Do you sign off documents then tweak layout and copy later? Be honest because there are ways to accommodate this. Logos can be held centrally, text updatable – Let us know before we build. If you don’t know, contact your account manager and we’ll help find the right balance with you.

Question 5 - How can I reuse this?

How long does a template last? Can it be repurposed again? Set up takes time but once built can be reused in a way that’s quicker and cheaper than building a new layout. Look across your designs and look for repetition.

About the author

Kim Temples is Vice President World Wide Client Services. She is responsible for growing Elateral's Client Services team and managing the company's relationships with its clients. Since joining Elateral in 2008, she has overseen multiple global deployments. During this time she has created a global Client Services team that collaborate across borders to deliver automation solutions to clients ranging from Coca-Cola to Toyota.

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