Excellent Packaging Artwork Capabilities 6 – Interfacing Processes

Excellent Packaging Artwork Capabilities 6 – Interfacing Processes

In the last article we discussed the core labelling and artwork processes. In this article we will discuss some of the processes which interface with these core processes.

The artwork process does not operate in isolation. It is a process which relies on information and activity in many other processes in order to operate successfully. Furthermore, some of these processes are owned and operated by organisations external to the company who owns the core process. Some typical examples of these interfacing processes include:

  • Change control process;
  • Production planning;
  • ERP data management process;
  • Physical packaging development process;
  • Company core datasheet development;
  • Component code management.

The design of the artwork process must clearly take account of each of these interfacing processes. For each process it should be clear at which point the interface(s) occur, what information is interchanged between the processes and in what format.

When designing the artwork process, it is highly unlikely that all of the interfacing processes will provide exactly the right information in the ideal format to support the new artwork process. Consequently, analysis will have to be done in each case to decide the best way forward. In some cases it will be necessary to modify the interfacing process to meet the ideal needs of the artwork process. In other cases it will be necessary to modify the design of the artwork process to accommodate the constraints of the interfacing process. In many cases a compromise solution will result. In some cases it may be necessary to phase the implementation of the new process, initially implementing a less optimal solution which can later be optimised when the corresponding interfacing process can be modified.

This series of articles, taken from our book Developing and Sustaining Excellent Packaging Labelling and Artwork Capabilities, describes the key capabilities required to deliver right-first-time packaging artwork in today’s environment. They also discuss potential future developments in the area to help the reader design any improvement activity with these in mind. Finally, they look at how an organisation can go about understanding how they need to adapt and improve their capabilities to meet their evolving business strategy and go about the often complex change-management journey to achieve it.

Comments ( 2 )

  • Quite an interesting article Stephen. In my previous role at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (now Pfizer) our group was in many ways fully integrated into a complete Packaging Services organization matrixed to be in alignment with therapeutic areas. Package and equipment design and development, artwork development and proofreading, change control, component numbering and even NDC numbering were housed in a one-stop shop that enabled the teams to effectively and mostly efficiently result in the development of artwork in a collaborative manner. When I worked for Scott Paper (now Kimberly-Clark) we integrated these these elements including material planning in one group.
    After having worked for many years in these two environments and seeing how disjointed and disconnected these processes can be when they are segregated into separate silos, I have to say that organizations need to rethink their organizational structures in a way that enables this development. Not only does it allow the organization to make changes expediently to their vital labeling components, it saves a tremedous expediture both in first time quality and compliance as well as enabling new products to get to market quicker and at a lower cost to the business.

    • Sharon,

      Thanks for the comments, you describe interesting examples of how organisations can structure themselves to improve overall results in their particular circumstances. Clearly this had significant benefits for the organisations you refer to.

      These articles are deliberately focussed on the topic of packaging labelling and artwork capabilities. I do not intend to infer from this that the organisational aspects of these capabilities become a unique silo of their own. Indeed, many participants in the overall process will never become part of the same function within a company and many participants will not be part of the same organisation at all.

      There are many ways to organise to achieve the best overall results for a particular organisation, some of the factors that need to be considered include:
      – products and markets that the business serves
      – the nature of the competition in each market segment
      – the business strategy relating to brand image and customer service across geographies
      – the way the rest of the organisation is structured
      – the degree to which the organisation delivers it’s products and services through external partners
      – the IT systems available
      – the culture of the organisation

      Whatever the organisational structure that is put around these and other related capabilities, I do believe that what is of paramount importance is that the people involved in any process:
      – understand what it is that they should be doing through the clear definition of the process, it’s tasks and the roles and responsibilities of those involved
      – have the right skills, knowledge and therefore competance to carry out these tasks
      – have the appropriate amount of quality time to perform the required tasks
      – have the adequate information repositories and tools to support their activities

      I would also suggest that establishing an appropriate cross-functional governance is also key to success in these necessarily cross-functional and cross-organisational processes.

      Thanks again for your valuable comments. Best regards, Stephen.

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