I have discussed a lot in previous blogs about causes, impacts and implications of artwork errors and the need to implement improvement programmes to address. From our experience, what we see is that an artwork improvement programme is a complex inter-related set of activities, requiring an integrated programme to address with a strong emphasis on change management.
So why is this the case?
Looking at the many improvement programmes we have been involved in, they are typically based on a process redesign and/or a technology implementation. These typically create a series of issues impacting process end-users, including:
- Changes to roles and responsibilities
- Changes to organisation designs
- New capabilities and competencies with subsequent education and training requirements
- Different performance measures and expectations
So even if the improvement is heavily focussed around technology, there is a people element that needs to be considered – it is people that will use the new processes and technology – artwork development is a highly people-driven process and people are therefore key to the success of any artwork change activity. Moreover, because of the cross-functional and cross-geographical aspect to labelling and artwork processes, these people issues are usually more significant than expected.
If you look at the change implications from the perspective of a local country regulatory manager, labelling and artwork changes are likely to be a relatively small part of their job. Indeed, for some people located in small commercial sales operations, they may only execute the process once or twice a year. Work is sent to them from geographically distant teams and they perform their part of the labelling or artwork change in isolation. They may never have met other members of the ‘team’ and many members of the ‘team’ may change depending on the product or pack changing. It is therefore essential that users of the process clearly know how to do their job, they undertake their tasks to the standards required, and know where to go for help and have the support available to ensure they are successful. To ensure issues are identified quickly and corrective action is undertaken in a collaborative way, ongoing global end-user support processes need to be built into change management activity.
The management of the labelling and artwork process provides further change management challenge. As the process is multi-functional and often multi-company, no single management team can have responsibility for either the full process or all the people executing it. It is very difficult to observe directly what is happening in the artwork process; the nearest thing the management team may have is the process KPIs and incident reports. All of this makes management of the ongoing process and any changes to it particularly challenging. It is also clear that many decisions about the design of the capability cannot be taken by one manager alone. There needs to be the cross-functional (and sometimes cross-organisation) governance in place to ensure that the overall process is acceptable to all those parties involved.
From all of the above, it is therefore important to ensure that the design of any improvement programme has the appropriate change management activities built in to deliver a successful and sustainable outcome. The design of a labeling and artwork improvement project needs to be done in a way that involves all impacted stakeholders. This will help to ensure that the people impacted by the change feel involved in the development of the new capability and understand the decisions that were taken during the design. It will also help to ensure their buy-in to it. Making this sort of change happen is difficult and it takes time and a reasonable amount of resource to do it well. It then takes a continuous resource level to sustain it successfully. You need to ensure that your organisation understands this and puts the right level of resource behind the change activity if it is to be successful.
In my next article we will look at the change management activities required in more detail.