The true cost of manually proofreading

Read this post to raise awareness among your colleagues about the true cost of manual proofreading. By manual proofreading I mean “text comparison” as defined in my previous post "What are the 2 biggest Myths in Electronic Proofreading?" which can be found here

1) Proofreader:

The cost per hour of work from the employee doing the proofreading doesn’t just include the salary but also tax, benefits, insurance, holidays, office space, training, recruitment costs, etc. … this can more than double the gross salary. 

2) Graphic designer:

If internal, the same calculation apply, if they are external, there is usually a fixed fee for a re-work or a cost per hour. You can check these details in the contract you have with them. 

3) Production costs:

A delay in production can be a financial nightmare: a last minute re-work because of a mistake identified late in the process takes time and will likely delay the production. This may mean a change in production lines, and in the worst case scenario this can also mean being out of stock for a few days (In winter 2015, this happened to a company selling cough syrup: needless to say that it was a huge loss of profit).

The longer it takes to have the final document printed, the longer it will take to have the product on the market. Everyday your product is not on the pharmacy’s/shop’s shelves is money lost (ask marketing!).

If the mistake is not identified at all and the product is already on the market, this can mean a product recall. The cost depends on many factors but it is usually very high, a large Swiss pharma company once talked about a loss of 1.5M Swiss Francs on average…

4) Personnel costs:

The number of times a person searches for a file, opens it, saves it, forwards it maybe via email with some text that has to be typed etc.… all of this is a complete waste of time (and this does not include the time for proofreading itself). Of course a document/artwork management system will decrease some of that cost but not all of it.

Using a highly qualified person’s time to do “basic” proofreading is not just very expensive, it takes valuable time away from them concentrating on her/his “real job”. A regulatory agency once told us that they had to employ PhD’s to do proofreading because of the complexity of the texts: As one can imagine, their time is very valuable.

Turnover is another hidden cost. People who are either bored or feel over qualified to do manual proofreading are more likely to leave the organization. According to a study published by the Society for Human Management, turnover can cost anywhere between 50% - 60% of an employee’s annual salary for a mid-range position₁. 

5) Stress:

Stress has often been called the silent killer, with the Global Organization for Stress citing that 6 out of 10 workers in major global economies experience workplace stress₂.  This may be an extreme case, but it’s true: several years ago, we meet a lady working in a pharma company who missed a typo which went to print. This created such a big fuss in the organisation that she experienced extreme stress. So much stress, that it affected her personally and she ended up quitting her job. Is a typo really worth it? If she had been proofreading electronically instead of manually, none of this would have happened.

In a recent study we conducted, our customers reported saving an average of 5 hours per week doing text and graphic inspections with the Text Verification Tool.  Although we have yet to quantify areas of savings such as reduced stress, reduced revisions, employee retention and number of avoided product recalls, their feedback is clear that the Text Verification Tool does reduce the overall cost of manual proofreading.