When CPG, Retail and Pharma companies invite us in to discuss automating their packaging processes, many questions come up on both sides. Sometimes the prospective client is far along in the process, other times we find they are just kicking things off and looking to learn as much as possible. But before any of that can start, there’s internal information gathering that needs to be completed first. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to properly evaluate or benchmark systems without these previous assessments.
When we speak with a company that hasn’t performed a Technology Readiness Review – as we call it – we’re generally able to supply some of the questions to ask. We help them identify the areas they need to explore and the team they can build to make not only the technology selection, but also the entire implementation process a positive and effective experience.
It occurred to us that companies seeking to automate for the first time or to update aging workflow systems might benefit from having some of this information upfront. So we’ve put together a Technology Readiness Checklist comprised of the top 10 considerations for most companies prior to selecting automation software.
Every company is different of course, and there may be additional things to consider in your particular case, but the checklist should help you begin to organize in the right direction. And, by the way, most of the questions should serve you well regardless of the processes you’re trying to improve through automation.
Address Automation Anxiety
In addition to helping companies spec the proper system for their needs, our Technology Readiness Review addresses less tangible, yet critical issues. Yes, there can be quite a lot of friction around a potential automation initiative.
Much of that comes from fear of the unknown. Those tasked with – or who take upon themselves responsibility for — technology selection and implementation often have concerns, such as:
- Will it work?
- We need this, but how will I get buy-in?
- How will I justify the budget?
- I’m not really a techie. What kind of system do we need?
- What happens if I make the wrong recommendation?
- How do I break through the negativity that I’m already hearing from potential users?
Acknowledging and addressing one’s own concerns in advance is truly important to building consensus and gaining the confidence to move forward effectively.
Reframe the Automation Issue
The greatest antidote to automation anxiety – our own and that of those around us — is a big dose of information. Knowing the right questions to ask helps. And completely reframing the issue can be powerful.
When it comes to packaging, adopting new technology is not just tactical, though many may still consider it that way. Today, automating critical packaging processes is strategic. Like other kinds of strategic initiatives, it requires a change management mentality. Instilling that thinking can be an important first step to automation success.
If you can properly frame the ‘why’ of technology it’s easier to overcome resistance to change at all levels of the organization. It’s easy to say ‘no’ to the ‘what,’ if the ‘why’ hasn’t been well established. But if the ‘why’ makes sense people will be more likely to adopt your informed recommendations.
You can also reframe the conversation about budget. Automating critical business processes can have bottom line implications. And we’re not talking about the cost of software licenses, which in the scheme of things, can be a relatively small investment.
We’re talking about cost savings resulting from far greater efficiencies and accuracy. Automation doesn’t necessarily take humans out of the equation, but it certainly does minimize human error. Any packaging pro who’s been involved in a reprint or recall understands the value of that.
So we hope that you find the Technology Readiness Checklist helpful. It’s free to download. We also hope to start a conversation in the comments about how you get ready to assess technology.