Why Good Project Management is Key to Success in Packaging

We know first-hand just how difficult packaging is - coordinating with disconnected internal teams, external vendors, specialized workflows, lack of data and complex material science makes packaging one of the most exhilarating and challenging areas in business today. The fact of the matter is that packaging teams are slammed with project-based work. It can feel like we're always running around figuring out a project status, going to yet another meeting or tracking down data or lost emails.

To make things worse, packaging is behind the times when it comes to technology, workflow automation, and supply chain connectivity. Most companies try to manage key projects with off the shelf spreadsheets, emails and systems that don't meet the specific demands of packaging. On top of that, packaging isn't always a priority at many companies. Other parts of the supply chain like marketing, sales, and production often seem to take precedence over anything packaging. So you can't blame packaging teams if they feel like setting them up for success in managing critical projects seems like an afterthought. I can't remember the number of times where I've heard comments from upper management about how ‘easy' packaging should be.

Yeah right, “easy.”

Here's the reality. Here are three questions to ask to determine if you could turbocharge your most critical packaging projects.

Problem 1: Do you spend too much time chasing data?
How much time do you spend chasing data instead of working on project goals? If you're trying to make any sort of change to your packaging, you really need to know what your current specs are, and you need to be able to group, sort and filter to find the data you need. Unfortunately, packaging specs are often buried in spreadsheets, stuck in outdated ERPs or held by your suppliers. Tracking it down causes delays, cost overruns and exhausted packaging teams.

Problem 2: How connected is your supply chain?
How often do things grind to a halt because someone got left out of an email chain? Communication across your supply chain is vital to keeping projects on track. If people are getting left out of the loop I can guarantee that you're wasting time herding cats instead of hitting project goals. And that counts for both your internal and external value chain.

Problem 3: You're using the wrong tools for the job
You wouldn't use a hammer to tighten a bolt. So why use a project management system that isn't designed for packaging? Lets face it: there are a ton of variables that need to come together to manage a successful NPI, sustainability transition or supply chain resiliency project. But most project management systems aren't designed for packaging. That's why packaging teams get frustrated with these tools and just go back to using spreadsheets. Data, collaboration and automated workflows are key.

So how do you fix these problems and get things on track?

Here's how:

Solution 1: Centralize your data and let people know where to find it
Get it all in one place. It doesn’t matter where, as long as it’s up to date and people know where it is. This will make sure everyone is on the same page and you’ll never have to chase a supplier for data again.

Solution 2: Get people in the loop, especially the ones who approve stuff
As a start, map out your approval process, then share it to teams and make sure everyone knows who approves what. This will help you track the status of a given project. But an even better solution is to automate the whole approval process - that way the right information will get to the right approvers at the right time.

Solution 3: Get the right tools
A packaging-specific automation, collaboration and workflow solution can automate and manage all your data and approval processes and keep your entire supply chain in the loop. It can provide the foundation for good project management by providing a single source of truth across your entire supply chain. And best of all, automating workflows means your team spends less time putting out fires and more time working on projects that drive value to your business.

The good news is that adopting good project management and project management tools can solve a ton of these problems, and it doesn’t have to be hard.

Craving more? Check out the next article: It’s time to re-think single-sourced packaging strategies

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