Evaluating project management tools for packaging

Where to start when evaluating a packaging project management tool.

Many packaging professionals we talk with are buried in projects. The average number of projects we hear packaging engineers work on at any given time is between 14-16. That's a LOT of things to track. Throw in the unique dynamics of often times disconnected internal teams that can create roadblocks. Most packaging experts we talk with have lived the below situation time and time again.

A new NPI, sustainability or supply chain improvement project is chartered. Engineers start working on specifications, marketing on artwork, and sourcing/procurement on finding and onboarding suppliers. Emails are flying all over the place, you're wondering if you have the right spreadsheet and there are several artworks that are severely delayed that procurement doesn't know about. As you start to close in on your delivery dates, chaos ensues. Procurement is wondering why the order won't deliver on time, artwork is still stuck in regulatory approvals and trials aren't going particularly well due to lack of specification management.

In short - there's a LOT that goes into any type of packaging project. And, the current way of doing things isn't working for many CPGs. Packaging really is just a series of projects that requires collaboration across internal departments and multiple external stakeholders.

It took us a bit to realize the true pain point in packaging is the lack of purpose-built project management tools. With the complex and numerous workflows and high-levels of collaboration, it's becoming nearly impossible to continue managing packaging with spreadsheets, email and phone calls.

Many companies are starting to evaluate how to solve the challenges associated with the 'status quo'. But, what should you really be looking for when evaluating a tool to turbocharge your packaging projects?

Here are three points to keep in mind when going through the process:

Use a tool purpose-built for packaging
Let's get one big thing out of the way. Using a standardized 'horizontal' project management tool just does not work for packaging. The solution needs to be purpose built for packaging. The interdependencies between artwork, specs, quoting, and production are just too unique in packaging that using a generalized tool just will not work (trust me, many on our team have tried in their pre-SourceHUB life).

Fast Time to Value
It may be tempting to try to solve all of the challenges of packaging at once - and that means a lengthy implementation and data migration process. Do NOT fall into the mindset of "go big or go home". Find a solution where you can start small. Often, just centralizing your data is a HUGE win. Finding something that brings value within days or weeks to get started builds momentum within your organization and assists with the challenges of change management.

Find a tool that fits your process
Many software companies come in and want to change your entire process to fit THEIR requirements. Instead, find a solution that will minimize any changes to your current process. Ensuring as much work as possible can be done through email (without logging in) is a key to more buy-in from your team.

Implementing a new tool can seem daunting - with supply chain disruptions and recovery from COVID, going through a long implementation is something that most don't want to do. But, by finding a purpose-built packaging tool that gets your data centralized fast and automates disconnected workflows, you can reach even your most aggressive targets faster.

Craving more? Check out the next article: Why Good Project Management is Key to Success in Packaging

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