Working with your partners in the business: Planning

Working with your partners in the business: Planning

I recently talked about the relationship with the Packaging Technologists/Engineers and with Regulatory. In this blog I discuss another key group – Planning. I talk through where the groups interact, what behaviours you see when the relationship is not so good and the impact on the customer and what you should see when teams are working well together.

Planning have touch points for both launch planning and pack changes

In a launch program the Artwork team will work with Planning, predicting dates for each market and feeding this information into the company planning process. This will provide vital data to decision makers coordinating the overall launch plans.

As markets get closer to launch and packs are being set up on the systems, Planning will often be involved, supplying codes and being part of the review and approval process for artwork briefs and the final artwork. They are also often the main link to procurement for sourcing of materials.

With pack changes the Artwork team will work with Planning to agree implementation dates and any constraints within those dates.

Planning controls the actual implementation dates

Although the artwork coordinators will plan the artwork activities associated with launches and pack changes, it is worth noting that Planning actually controls the implementation dates. Unless it is put into a schedule, no components will be bought and no orders will be produced.

With pack changes, the team will liaise with Planning on whether a pack change can be phased in, so stock can gradually be run down or whether there is a specific implementation date. Regulatory authorities may insist on a date where there is a safety change involved. This date may be when the stock must be ex-factory or available in the market warehouse.

It is important that the teams involved communicate clearly what the customer expectations are and the Planning and the Artwork teams work to meet these expectations. An example of differing priorities is when running stock down is prioritised over the implementation date, resulting in the risk of a non-compliance situation with your customer.

Another challenging situation we sometimes see is when Planning feel they have been let down so many times that they say to the Artwork team,  ‘Once you have the artwork ready then come to talk to us!’ This might apply to both launches and pack changes and in either case it is the customer and potentially the company itself who loses if there are delays. Of course, the way to solve this issue is to improve schedule adherence, a subject I will come back to on a later blog.

Where you see good ways of working is when Planning and Artwork understand each other’s requirements, where there is trust that the artwork team will deliver on time and where regular schedule review meetings are in place, potentially on a weekly basis, where projects are discussed and all plans are agreed and monitored.

In my next set of articles I will talk about the important subject of proof reading.

To help you in your Artwork Improvement Program, you can also find useful information in my book Developing and Sustaining Excellent Packaging Labelling and Artwork Capabilities

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Should you have any questions about this or any other of my blogs, or would simply like to request a copy of my booklets, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly on my email.

For more information on artwork, go to our free download section.