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June 2, 2020


How the latest digitized labeling solutions for SAP help drive business agility

Ken Moir

SAP is a key element of the manufacturing, warehousing and supply chain operations of many of the world’s largest businesses. That is essentially why it is so important that automated labeling runs efficiently and seamlessly within the SAP environment. Historically, label production in SAP has often been a highly-complex, IT-managed process. In this environment label changes have in the past, often taken weeks or even months to complete. Sometimes IT even charges for every change request.

Customers in the SAP world today typically use SAPscript, Smart Forms or Adobe Forms. Regardless of whether it’s hard coding label templates or involving technical resources in label design and change requests, all these methods necessitate significant involvement from the business’s IT department or teams. In effect, they require IT to do almost everything.

The result is a longer labeling process due to complexity and the need for lots of label variations.  This immediately puts a brake on agility as it typically entails long and expensive delays. The customer is often left waiting weeks or even months for labels they want and expect in very short order.

However, as modern businesses need to move products quickly through the warehouse, they need  a more agile solution – one which reduces the burden on IT and facilitates faster changes to labels into the bargain.  

Modern digitized labeling solutions are therefore specifically configured to enable businesses to make label changes faster. And they are aligned closely with the latest ERP systems, including SAP, to further drive agility; accelerate the production process and reduce the burden on IT. It’s all part of the digital transformation of processes and systems revolutionizing the overall approach to labeling in many organizations today.

I say ‘reduce the burden’ by the way, rather than eliminate IT from the process altogether because the extent to which IT will remain involved will largely depend on the nature of the business itself. In some organizations, IT still wants to ‘own’ labeling, but also wants it to be easy and quick to deliver on a change request. In other organizations, IT – and senior management – want to relinquish the responsibility for labeling and instead let business users handle it themselves, in what could be termed ‘a self-service approach’.

The final decision will depend on business need but what is important in all cases is that it is not mandatory for IT to get involved and, even more importantly, that changes are not complicated and do not require a great deal of time or effort. That’s what modern labeling solutions can do – make the whole process simple and fast and take away the pain for every business that uses labels extensively.

Quickly Addressing Customer Change Requests

Customer label change requests are a good example of how reducing the hassle and the administrative burden of changing labels can help businesses as they demand agility and speed of response. Even when a customer requests label changes without warning, the need for updated labels can compound the issue. It is a situation where the modern capability to make faster changes to labels as highlighted above can be key in reducing delay and help any business ride out what can be an especially difficult time.

Label change requests are, however, just one example of the growing need for speed in labeling and how label technology is helping to meet it. In a raft of businesses across multiple vertical sectors from pharmaceuticals to food and beverage, it’s key to get products to a destination as quickly as possible, especially when competitors are shipping at increasingly fast speeds.

Before digitization, organizations would have had to patiently wait for label design and changes. However, with a modern label management system, information can be found easily and efficiently, and labels can be printed quickly and accurately.

The Quality Dimension

The latest labeling solutions do not only add speed, they can also add quality control to the process. This is nothing new, of course. Quality control has been part of the labeling processes for at least two decades. What’s different today though is that quality control is increasingly being digitized – enabling organizations to achieve labeling efficiency and quality at the same time. That’s very important. SAP customers typically come looking for a faster and easier way to make change requests. They don’t necessarily seek out digitized quality control but achieving it is nonetheless a huge bonus and can bring them a whole raft of benefits.

These typically include a tighter management of headcount, and a significant reduction in paper-based quality control processes which in turn helps to reduce costs, errors and risk levels. And quality control can also help drive the speed of the labeling process, leading to faster shipping and fewer shipping delays.

Reaping the Rewards

Thanks to the latest digital labeling solutions, organizations can use a fully-integrated document management system which gives them a centralized database of all label templates including complete print history, revision and approval workflows, and visibility regarding everyone who has accessed, changed and printed labels in their organization. Businesses can digitize their entire quality assurance process and get all the documentation they need to perform quality control and audits. Going digital eliminates error prone, paper-based quality control processes and reduces the costs and shipping delays associated with remediation.  It is yet another example of how modernization and digitization are enabling organizations that use labeling to build business advantage and drive competitive edge. At the end of the day, digitizing the labeling quality control procedure helps further accelerate the speed of the overall process, ultimately providing yet another means by which SAP users can ship product faster. 

Learn more about SAP label printing software.

  • SAP
  • Labeling