What is it?
Specification management pertains to product information such as raw materials, ingredients, formulas, packaging, finished goods, bill of materials (BOM), quality documents, and more. This type of information is very specific for each product and SKU when it comes to packaged goods.
Because of global preferences and consumer demand for personalization, one type of product can have many different SKUs depending on region, size of product, retail environment, etc. Specification data management allows companies to keep information organized and structured so it can be shared and standardized across the supply chain in order to eliminate human errors in product packaging, even when working with external partners. This is especially true in highly regulated industries like life sciences and food & beverage.
Specification management increases quality and ensures efficiency in packaging. However, there are many issues that cause companies to fall short when it comes to specification management:
Companies spend many millions of dollars to cover additional internal costs related to specification management and rarely solve the problem. However, digital specification and proper communication of copy text will reduce the potential for error and remove the liability risk involved in this highly regulated area of packaging.
There can be extreme variability in labels and artwork, even for just one package. Specification management needs to be conducted at the beginning of the packaging process so that structural packaging and artwork are aligned and consistent.
Some of the items that need to be defined before a packaging project even start include:
There are specification management software tools available to help companies improve quality and consistency in their packaging, labels, and artwork. These systems allow companies to create, manage, and distribute the specifications from a single platform where they can share directly to their retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, or any other external partners. These tools become a source for companies to clearly specify requirements and expectations and ensure quality and safety from third parties. Often times, a workflow solution incorporates specification management into the software seamlessly.
It’s important for workflow software that supports specification management to start with a clear briefing with the associated deliverables in order to get everything done right the first time. A briefing template with required fields will help make sure all of the components needed for a packaging project are identified and described properly. It should also be able to pull in data from other systems, such as SKU number, brands, etc.
A workflow system should allow teams to easily input, review, and approve text and other content, both for ad hoc copy and also for existing materials that can be repurposed. This is important for both usage (placing “active ingredients” on packaging) and for reviewers as some copy is interesting only to marketing and others only to legal for instance.
The project manager for the packaging creation or update should be able to define every aspect of the project goals, deliverables, and all details are clear from the very beginning, keeping both external and internal contributors aligned.
Another solution that can help is content management, which typically has features to support the initial content gathering. It communicates additional product-related information such as die line number, product number, or color specification.
WebCenter is a workflow management tool that incorporates specification and content into processes automatically. This tool makes it easier to start producing, or updating packaging, labels, and artwork. It offers briefing and order forms; and it also collects specification data from third party sources. It offers workflow support to make specification control a collaborative process.
WebCenter also enables:
The benefits of WebCenter include: