Case Study Stu Williamson Photography

How we saved costs and simplified our workflow

Results

  • 50% saving on logistic costs related with order management

  • 25% cut on editing hours per job

  • Seamless international sales with centralised production

Challenge

We met Martin from Stu Williamson Schools Photography for the first time at The Photography Show 15 in Birmingham. He had recently been appointed as the International Operations Manager for Stu Williamson Photography in Great Britain, United Arab Emirates and Singapore. The company was known for its high photographic quality, but Martin saw huge room for improvement in terms of workflow efficiency and optimisation.

Martin told us: “We were working with prehistoric methods. Information was concentrated on one person and based on archaic handwritten notes. If we would lose one single piece of paper the whole job would be compromised!”

 

Their production was based on proof cards. This had many implications that spread from the acquisition of nurseries to the way information was collected and each order was processed. Furthermore the international operations introduced another level of complexity to Stu Williamson Photography operations and workflow. The proof card workflow was holding the photography company back.

The main challenges that the company faced were:

Receiving orders through proof cards slowed the production line

  • Each production batch would require about 10 hours per school in terms of proof card and data input.

The retouching process was too time consuming and inefficient.

  • The process would take around 36 hours per school. And as Martin pointed out: “We were retouching all photos, but offering only two for sale for each child. The effort for retouching was quite high.” Moreover, photographers often made systematic mistakes that resulted in a higher number of hours of retouching per photo.

Managing operations between Great Britain, United Arab Emirates and Singapore

  • Stu Williamson Photography needed a system that could handle production in a central location and an online shop adapted to multiple currencies as well as separate accounting processes

Solution

Towards a new streamlined workflow
In the first step of their workflow analysis, two of GotPhoto’s employees visited the company in their UK office. There, GotPhoto did a live demonstration of the online shop and introduced the QR Tagging Workflow. The streamlined production methods and the QR tagging based workflow was exactly what the company needed to respond to their out of date proof card workflow system.

“GotPhoto was from the beginning systematic and very approachable, they listened to the problems that we faced and because they listened, they found solutions to our problems quite quickly.“ Martin Branston – Stu Williamson Schools Photography”
On the next step of the process, a member of the customer success team flew to Stu Williamson Schools Photography headquarters in the city of Dubai. The main goal of the session was to provide a demonstration and to conduct an initial mapping of their existing production processes.

Following on from the meeting, GotPhoto drafted a project plan specifying tasks and objectives for optimisating SW Schools workflow and this plan would turn to be an important tool to communicate and control the integration process.

Internal preparation for a new workflow

In order to solve the first bottleneck, proof card ordering was replaced by GotPhoto’s password cards. The implementation of this new process represented not a technical challenge, but required a training process to all the parties involved. In order to tackle this challenge, a member of the customer success team gave onsite training to Stu Williamson Photography team. Over a two-day period, members of the photography team, management and operations were trained on password cards, photo shoots and processing. Additionally, GotPhoto provided training material to the company in order to establish an ongoing education process throughout the entire organisation.

Setting up a cross continent production system

On the second trip to Dubai, the integration team visited Stu Williamson Photography. This time outlining a roadmap to streamline the comapany’s production line was the main goal. Through the advanced production functionality, Stu Williamson Photography would be able to create production batches to handle the production workflow efficiently. Moreover, a second online shop was opened for SW-Schools in order for them to handle their operations in Singapore.

The Results

Kick off with proof cards

While proof card ordering required a minimum of 4 trips to each school for processing one job, password card-based ordering required only two trips to each school. This represented a cut of 50% in man-hours required to receive order information from parents, the same proportion of savings were represented on transportation costs.

Retouching as a team

After identifying the retouching workflow problem, the GotPhoto team suggested establishing specific standards for photographers to minimise the need for retouching. To increase the efficiency of the retouching team, the cropping of pictures was completed by the photographers. Therefore streamlining the process of retouching and promoting efficiency within the company. In addition GotPhoto’s integrated software to allow the process of automated retouching.

Smart international production

On the first week of using the GotPhoto system, Stu Williamson Photography, shot schools in the UK, Singapore and Dubai. SW-Schools production department saw orders coming from each of the country shops and was able to produce in smart batches. This enabled a lean and orderly workflow. Furthermore, it allowed the company to handle its operations in different markets while taking advantage of their centralised production facilities. GotPhoto proved to be not only an online shop, but also a new way of working: smart and efficiently.

About Stu Williamson Photography

United Kingdom – Dubai – Singapore

www.sw-schools.com

Since 2009 Stu Williamson Schools Photography has been bringing very different ideas on how to take school photos in the UAE, Singapore and UK. They are the most sought after school photographers in the region and proud to photograph over 130,000 students each and every year. Their headquarters are located in Dubai, UAE.

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