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All about location: Workflow and communication solutions across borders

I was once the Art Director for a popular NYC based, Woman's Juniors, and Mens Lounge wear clothing company in my early twenties. One of my responsibilities was the design direction, creation, and deployment of company design assets to our production partner facilities in Hong Kong and Mexico.

These assets included very technical clothing CADs, zipper pull designs, packaging, labels and other information specific to the rendering and finishing of garments for market in the United States. Two main factors that caused impediments were the time difference between locations for email and voice correspondence, and the time-to-ship samples. Hong Kong is 12 hours ahead of New York city, so when our offices were opening at 7 A.M., my contact in HK was sitting down for dinner with his family at 7 P.M. We learned to work through the time issues by agreeing to be on 24 hour call for emergencies and implemented additional QC steps for our teams. I remember many nights sleeping in the office to make last minute edits to files, uploading via ftp, and waiting on an embroidery tech to review and confirm stitch count. The time difference was a definitive factor that required both companies to rethink their communication and workflow strategies. We also agreed to use trade-specific language and other universal technical terms in our communication so regional colloquialisms that would normally contribute to misinterpretation would be mitigated. We eventually had to send one of our employees to HK during the final production of our spring delivery to directly address concerns and issues.

I also had the pleasure of briefly consulting with the dev team for a global mining company, as they developed a custom intranet solution. One of the issues this company faced, was the coordination of company wide updates so every employee received the same information, at the same time, and in multiple languages. The logistics of a coordinated messaging effort on a global scale is huge to say the least. Especially when the majority of the task force is responsible for using heavy equipment in other countries, and they cant simply take out a smart device or laptop to read an email when you would like them to.

"World Cup of Tea" image c) 2014 Dave Sutherland and made available under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license

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