Excellent Packaging Artwork Capabilities Part 5 - Leadership, governance and technology

Written by Be4ward on 30/11/2023

Excellent Packaging Artwork Capabilities Part 5 - Leadership, governance and technology

In part 4 of my blog series on how to create excellent packaging artwork capabilities, I looked at the third of our defined processes, Supporting Processes and the influencing aspects of organisation design. Here in the final part five I will look at our final two capabilities: the importance of establishing the right inclusive leadership and governance and the role technology plays in establishing artwork capabilities.

Leadership and Governance

Given the cross-functional and cross-organisational nature of the artwork capability, establishing the right inclusive leadership and governance is key to the long-term success of the capability. All stakeholder groups involved in the delivery of the artwork capability need to contribute effectively or the whole process will fail. Therefore, all parties must buy into their role in the process and actively contribute to it. This will rarely happen if they are simply passive bystanders in the design of the capability or the delivery of the resulting activities.

The role of an Artwork Governance Team

We would recommend establishing a cross-function governance team to steer the establishment, ongoing delivery and development of the overall artwork capability. This governance body should include membership from all stakeholder groups involved in the process, including, where appropriate, external service providers.

It is all too easy when forming and managing governance teams to focus on the steering and decision-making aspect of the activity. If you are not careful, this may result in the leadership responsibilities of the team being overlooked. The governance team needs to ensure that they provide leadership to the artwork function in a number of distinct ways. Firstly, they need to ensure that a vision and strategy for the artwork capability is developed, agreed across all impacted stakeholders and communicated effectively to the broader organisation. Secondly, they need to ensure that the journey to achieve this vision is structured and managed effectively and that progress is communicated to the wider organisation. Thirdly, the leadership of the governance team needs to manifest itself in decisive decision-making that supports the vision and goals of the artwork capability. Finally, the behaviours the leadership display need to actively model and support the key cultures that underpin the successful service delivery.

To support these leadership activities, some organisations purposefully put in place a number of key roles:

Senior sponsor – a senior member of staff who will represent and support the overall artwork capability at the highest levels in the organisation.

Governance team chairperson – the leader of the governance team who ensures that the governance team activities are managed effectively.

Artwork process owner – an individual who is responsible on a day-to-day basis for ensuring that the end-to-end artwork process operates effectively and that any improvements to the process are appropriately designed.

With all of this in place on an ongoing basis, the artwork capability should remain effective and appropriate for an organisation over time.


Technology is a necessary and useful part of any packaging labelling and artwork capability, indeed it is practically impossible to operate an artwork capability today without some elements of technology.

Technology helps address many issues which can lead to improvements in compliance, performance and cost. Some of these issues include:

- Eliminating human error, particularly prevalent in transcribing information and in proof reading

- Ensuring everyone has the right, up to date information available to them when they need it

- Ensuring process adherence

- Aiding coordination of the different people involved

- Helping individuals manage their own activities better

- Reducing lead times

- Reducing cost

Before I go on to discuss any specific IT capabilities, let me just pause to cover some of the potential downsides of technology. Before selecting and implementing any technology, the full implications and costs should be weighed against the benefits. Some of these costs include:

- Initial and ongoing cost of tools and software

- Systems maintenance and support capabilities

- User education, training and support capabilities

- Impact of the technology on other business processes

For the purpose of discussion here, I will break down the packaging, labelling and artwork related technology into a number of sub-groups. I will briefly describe each of them and you will find a more detailed discussion on each of them in our book, Developing and Sustaining Excellent Packaging Labelling and Artwork Capabilities. You should be aware that the solutions available from different vendors often provide functionality that crosses two or more of these areas and I expect this trend will continue over time.

Artwork Creation: the tools necessary to create such things as documents, artworks, drawings, 3D visualisations and the associated components such as barcodes, Braille etc. generally, this technology is available off the shelf. The principle issue in implementing these tools is deciding and controlling which of the many configuration options are used.

Document Management: the tools necessary to securely store documents, ensure versions are managed effectively and that audit trails are maintained.

Translation Management: the tools necessary to efficiently and effectively manage the creation, storage and use of translations. Companies use everything from simple documents through to complex and sophisticated translation management solutions in this area.

Image Management: the tools necessary to ensure that what the user is looking at is a true representation of the underlying document. This includes such things as pdf creation, printing, electronic image presentation and colour management.

Collaborative Review & Approval: the tools necessary to allow individuals and groups to review individual documents, create and manage comments and ultimately securely approve documents. This area would include such things as electronic signature management.

Proofreading: tools that help users to proofread documents and their associated elements such as barcodes and Braille. Whilst very useful in reducing errors in artwork, it should be remembered that these tools are only aids to skilled proofreaders and need to be used with caution.

Change Control & Authorisation: the tools necessary to manage the definition and authorisation of changes in a compliant environment. The change control aspects of labelling and artwork changes will often be managed as part of a larger corporate change control system.

Bill of Material Management: whilst often not considered part of the labelling and artwork suite of tools, bill of material management systems are key to the success of labelling and artwork management at either end of the process. Initially, they are key in ensuring an accurate and comprehensive impact assessment is carried out. At the end of the process, they are key to ensuring that the changed packaging components are implemented in a controlled way into production.

Planning and Work Management: tools such as workflow technology that allow activities to be planned and routed to the right individuals at the right moment. More sophisticated versions of these tools will have the ability to manage large numbers of individuals, locations, work teams and separate organisations.

Performance Management: the tools necessary to gather and report performance information across the end-to-end capability. Some organisations will use corporate business intelligence tools for this.

Forecasting and Budgeting: the tools used to help forecast workload, plan resource capacity and financial budgets.

Don’t forget that many of these technology elements will need to be validated as the implication of their failure could impact artwork quality and therefore patient safety.

I will close with a word of caution when specifying, selecting and implementing technology which I have learned the hard way from experience. Many of the technology elements I have described have subtle interactions and dependencies with each other. Unless these dependencies are fully understood, it is very easy to make a change in one area that has an unforeseen and detrimental impact in another.

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