Eliminate Process Complexity with Packaging Management Software
by Nigel Winteringham, on October 31, 2019
Efficiency matters in packaging design in general, and Artwork Management in particular. Every single extra manual step involved in approving new labels introduces issues - more time to project completion, a greater chance that information will be duplicated, even added potential for the whole process to become derailed. Putting new products on shelves or making changes to packaging for compliance or rebranding purposes should be quick and decisive. When Artwork Management isn't handled efficiently, this goal becomes harder to achieve.
This need to streamline Artwork Management processes, taking out as many opportunities for human error as possible, is where the true value of packaging management software comes from. Features such as digital asset management, phrase and translation libraries, online proofing and automated collaboration workflows all contribute to simplified processes, along with the corresponding reductions in time to market.
Manual Processes Replaced by Packaging Management Software
"Companies will be glad to remove both email and spreadsheets from the overall packaging management workflow."
A standard approval workflow for artwork revisions is based on the tools available at the dawn of the digital age - spreadsheets to track versions, email chains with new copies of the files. While some companies are still using this method due to pure inertia, not feeling the need to change their approach is causing more problems than they may realize.
When Chief Packaging Officer named the advantages of taking proofing to an online model, the publication explained that companies will be glad to remove both email and spreadsheets from the overall packaging management workflow. Email adds unneeded opacity and complexity, with searches through inboxes delivering unsatisfactory results and taking up time that could be better spent.
Every update to a spreadsheet to track approvals, revisions and versions takes yet more time and introduces the chance for someone to make a mistake. When companies use offline spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel documents, they then have to share those documents by email, creating a convoluted workflow with yet more possible points for human error to derail the process.
Multiple Versions of Image Files
The versions of assets passing back and forth can easily become confused. If one of the individuals in the approval workflow makes changes to an older version of a file, other edits may be skipped over and neglected. Trying to figure out where the mistake was made - and which version of the artwork is the actual most recent and approved one - takes yet more time, and it's easy to imagine problems making it all the way to production when such breakdowns in communication occur.
Simplified Packaging Management Workflows
What replaces all those manual processes? From the involved employees' perspective, the answer is nothing. Where each person who made changes to an asset once had to send an email incorporating a new copy of the image files and make a note in a spreadsheet, the changes are now noted automatically. With a log of what those changes entailed, other personnel have all the documentation they need to make further edits or give a sign-off. The next individual in the approval chain receives an alert that it's time to inspect the asset, and logs in to work on the centrally stored file.
The amount of time saved on each packaging revision and approval adds up. Every time a package design has to go through revisions, the responsible team members no longer have to send emails, check spreadsheets or verify they have the right file version. This is a more efficient process when everything goes correctly. Considering the ability to prevent human error regarding incorrect file versions, the time savings can be even more impressive.
Advantages of Cloud-Based Software and Digital Asset Libraries
Having the option to move digital asset management and approval workflows into the cloud and enabling remote access by all relevant employees is a way for companies to bring their teams together - no matter how far apart individual employees may be. IT Pro laid out the general business case for digital asset storage and access, noting that having all of a business's content in a single, central repository helps the right files get to the right people at the right time.
Before a company can become more digitally enabled overall, it needs to make sure its foundational systems such as asset libraries are digitized and accessible. Combining these content management systems with cloud-based packaging management software is a way to optimize the resulting workflows. The central asset storage removes the requirement for duplicating files and sending them by email, while the packaging management tool ensures all changes are logged and the right parties are notified.
Artwork Management's Importance in Regulated Industries
While time is money in all sectors, and any company can benefit from streamlining its packaging management workflows, the need for new simplicity is especially great in regulated fields such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Healthcare Packaging reported on the experience of Bausch Health, which recently streamlined its packaging approval process. The company's old workflow was overcomplicated and led to time-consuming process bottlenecks.
"Breakdowns and slowdowns in revision and approval processes can seriously delay production."
Responding to urgent and required changes - including acting on orders from the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory bodies - needs to be done as quickly as possible. Artwork elements such as warnings need to be in place and approved by the relevant authorities for pharmaceutical manufacturers to even be able to put their goods on shelves. Breakdowns and slowdowns in this complex yet essential revision and approval process can seriously delay production.
The Case for Packaging Management Software
Organizations that have not yet committed to managing their packaging management workflows with cloud-based software tools and digital asset management simply need to consider the risks of their present methodologies. Every manual step in an artwork revision and approval process is a chance for human error and a potential waste of time. Committing to replacing these outdated practices is a single step that can have a significant positive impact and future proof for evolving customer and regulatory changes to existing artworks.
Faster and more efficient than legacy methods, a new and automated workflow is the potential cure to everything from unnecessary file duplication to time wasted on spreadsheet updates. Businesses may not regard their present, legacy Artwork Management system as complex, because it is deeply ingrained and the tools involved - such as email and Excel - are simple. The alternative, however, is notably more elegant.