How time-saving collaboration benefits packaging development

The value of cross-departmental teamwork is well recognized by executives and employees across all business functions inside an organization. Employees who can reach outside their silos to find colleagues with complementary expertise learn more and gain skills faster; and organizations with more cross-silo collaboration achieve greater customer loyalty and higher profit margins, according to an article in Harvard Business Review

Consumer packaged goods and life-sciences companies recognize the value of collaboration across departments within their organizations, but here’s the problem: They struggle to make it happen. And the 2017-2018 CMO Spend Survey by Gartner estimates that a lack of collaboration across marketing, functional and geographic lines costs businesses $11 million per year.

Specifically, in the packaging process, there is a real opportunity to bolster collaborative efforts. Effective teamwork can potentially mean less cycles of packaging reviews, equating to an increase in the product’s speed-to-market. But as it stands, copious amounts of work and communication is required across multiple departments and external suppliers.

Let’s review today’s current packaging development process:

In-house graphic designers ideate a graphical design, engineers mock a CAD rending of the design with the appropriate specs, while marketing finalizes copy and works alongside compliance to ensure the overall packaging and labeling meets regulations with the Food and Drug Administration. After that, a company will route the label and artwork to their external suppliers (agencies, printers, and converters) for package printing and manufacturing, and then marketing sends images and physical products to retailers for inclusion on ecommerce websites and the store shelf. This process continues like a merry-go-round, with a few periodic starts and stops by senior leadership as they provide their feedback and approvals. And if the communication is poor between parties, emails pile up, files get lost—the merry-go-round ride never ends.

What happens to a company’s packaging process if they collaborate more effectively across silos with enabling technologies?

After spending most of my career in IT and product development, I often refer to Metcalfe’s Law. It is a concept that explains the growth and value of the number of connections and value of electronic telecommunications devices. For example, one person owning a single iPhone is pretty useless; however, when there are two people with iPhones, one can communicate with another. And when there are millions of iPhones? The device finally holds some real value, and the communication spans across a network.

Let’s translate Metcalfe’s Law to product packaging: The key to the successful execution of the packaging process is collaboration through packaging management software. The more users across departments who use the workflow tool, the more powerful the software becomes. 

If each silo utilizes the automated workflow, it becomes easy to collaborate across silos, geographies and external partners, while still identifying areas of improvement and bottlenecks within the process. More importantly, the software becomes a vital resource for the organization’s success.


A better way

Imagine what collaboration could look like when using packaging management software:

Design Collaboration: A graphic designer can make a label change or update on package design in a workflow software, and each participant on the project can get notified of the change via email .

Packaging Engineer Collaboration: An engineer can reply with the latest packaging specs and notify the packaging manager that the structural CAD file is complete through the workflow.

Packaging Leader Collaboration: A packaging manager can view where the packaging development is at in the overall workflow—identifying critical bottlenecks—and implementing appropriate countermeasures to improve the process. Beyond process improvements and encouraging cross-silo collaboration, a packaging manager can grant external partners access to their projects, encouraging transparent communication beyond the business to agencies, converters and printers.

Marketing Collaboration: A marketer can upload all their assets to the organization’s digital asset management (DAM) program and easily pull the most recent version of romance copy or the latest glamour shot and insert that imagery or content into the packaging management software workflow, alerting the packaging manager that new imagery has been created and needs to be shared when creating the printed promotional materials.

Executive Collaboration: An executive can quickly approve the final product packaging submitted by the packaging leader and marketing departments through software that alerts them that their approvals are required.

Ecommerce Collaboration: Using a workflow, an ecommerce manager can be alerted on final 3D product images and leverage a DAM to pull the most recent product images and messaging for inclusion on all promotional assets, both online and in-store—creating cohesion across channels.

Better yet, every collaborator involved in the go-to-market strategy, regardless of job function or department understands the packaging project status and workflow, removing finger-pointing and confusion if and when a project is delayed. Visibility across silos enables all individuals in the value chain to understand how their role impacts the overall process, and each individual can offer suggestions for improvement.

Successful collaboration combines people, technology and a packaging workflow platform, enabling your teams to get their jobs done efficiently and your package out the door on-deadline. More importantly, it allows your team to work across silos throughout the entire go-to-market strategy using a single source of truth.

Want your teams to collaborate? Get them the right tools, encourage user adoption across silos and watch the power of the network improve your packaging process.