Work in the digital age was supposed to be easier… faster… more cost-efficient. Eager packaging and design professionals had visions of leaving at 5:00 with a clean desk and a finished to-do list.  However, the reality is these packaging and design professionals are still encountering a seemingly-endless pile of time-consuming, expensive projects. And they’re not alone.

The Economic Policy Institute found that overall, American productivity rose 21.6% between 2000 and 2014. But while productivity has increased, Gallup reports that the average workweek has risen to 47 hours. Isn’t there a way to work smarter, not harder?

 Smart Brand Packaging for CPGs

In the consumer packaged goods (CPG) and life sciences industries, resources—time, supplies, manpower—are in-demand and both marketers and designers are pulled in many directions. Adding to the complexity: companies are innovating new products at a record pace to meet consumers’ changing expectations, putting more pressure on time and resources and adding even more packaging SKUs to the list of artwork changes down the line. However, something as simple as a label change can take 198 days to implement, which further frustrates anyone involved in the packaging process.

And everyone’s workload is different. Packaging and artwork managers, for example, have to oversee the structural design of the packaging, as well as all of the artwork elements, ensuring the specs, artwork and label files get to the supplier in a timely fashion. Or for someone who works in regulatory, their primary packaging focus revolves around reviewing the packaging labels to ensure they are accurate and compliant. And while Excel is helpful to list all packaging tasks and email keeps people in touch, these tools don’t always alleviate issues such as visibility, cross-department collaboration and missed deadlines.

Here are two tips to help organize your packaging projects to ensure the best outcomes in the digital project management era.

Identify and Allocate Your Resources

It’s not easy to know where your employees are, what they’re doing and when they have time to work on the next SKU or packaging artwork update. Many companies now have employees who work in different parts of the world, making visibility into their workday almost impossible.

By using packaging management software, project managers can see where the design team is currently allocating their time. Managers have a full view of team schedules by reviewing current tasks per individual contributor, and they can better determine who is available to support new label or artwork changes.

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Individuals can also log into a dashboard and review tasks that are color-coded by project, ensuring they have clear insight into their deliverables, their deadlines and how their tasks interconnect with others in the workflow. Doing this, designers, marketers and packaging engineers can instantly see how many projects are assigned to them, what takes the highest priority and where they need to allocate their time.

Identify Key Chokepoints in Your Process

It’s difficult to get the final artwork file to your print supplier when your team can’t produce the necessary artwork in a timely fashion. But can you explain why the final deliverable is delayed? Being able to identify the root cause of project delays helps companies eliminate overall waste in the packaging process.

For instance, CPG companies often experience delays when design approvals take longer than expected. If a designer can’t find the right file and sends the wrong one for approval, it can get rejected and postpone the entire packaging project. At first, a minor mistake like this might be overlooked, but if it happens more than once (as it often does), it becomes time wasted for every person working on the product packaging – and these lags inevitably cost your business money by delaying your time to shelf.

Now imagine if all of this information was centralized; your designer would be able to immediately pull the right artwork file, and have it approved by the executive on the first review. Keeping your projects in a workflow software also helps identify key chokepoints through project reporting. At any time, you can open a project to see the status, where tasks are delayed and who is running behind. With this complete visibility across departments, you can quickly identify the problem and countermeasure any issues your team is having.

A Better, More Streamlined Process

Although the flow of projects can seem endless, your resources—especially your time—are always finite; you can’t afford to misuse them.

For many packaging, design and marketing professionals, work days are consumed by never-ending email threads, executive approval requests and project deadline management. Good packaging management software allows you to see what resources are available and which employees have bandwidth so you can achieve smoother day-to-day operations. You’ll transform packaging projects into organized, automated workflows, saving hours of time each day.

To learn more about how packaging management software can help your company better manage resources and improve packaging KPIs, visit  Esko WebCenter QuickStart for Brands.

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