Managing packaging specifications can be a tedious process. Most packaging specs are spread across different departments along the supply chain, and any data that packaging professionals do have access to is generally managed using manual systems, spreadsheets, and shared drives. Unfortunately, a manual specification management process can cause errors and rework for employees, inconsistent processes across different departments, and costly delays in production. It can also have a major impact on highly regulated companies who must comply with government regulations, resulting in legal ramifications, sanctions and fines.
However, deciding which Specification Management System and vendor are right for your company can be confusing. To help you narrow the playing field and find your right-fit solution, we have compiled a list of 6 things to consider before you choose a specification management system.
An important feature of any specification management system is the amount of flexibility it allows. This includes, but is not limited to:
- A security model that supports control over who within your company can do what to which content (Common specs v. SKUs v. BOMs v. Drawings)
- Providing different, configurable form types for different types of specifications
- Offering the ability to store and manage related content – drawings, references, etc.
These capabilities allow your company to take control of your packaging content and make the most out of a spec management system. If you are limited to one type of form for creating specifications or you are unable to store drawings and/or references, you are greatly limited in terms of what happens with your data and how your employees are able to manage it. When looking for a spec management system, make sure it has these flexible capabilities.
2) Ease of Use
In addition to flexibility, it is necessary to look into a system’s ease of use. If the software you choose is too confusing for the average user, your company will lose out on a lot of its important functionality. Will your employees need a computer science degree just to understand how to create specifications? Will you need to ask the vendor when you want to make even simple changes? Do you need the vendor to query your data to mine it out for analysis? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the system may not be the right fit for your business.
You want a spec management system that works for you and your employees and makes your business processes easier, not one that is going to add confusion and make simple tasks less efficient. Be sure to do your research and make sure your chosen software has an ease of use that fits with your company.
3) Controlled Access to Appropriate Specifications
A good specification management system should have configurable security settings that will dictate which users are able to access certain specifications. Security is important, and you do not want anyone within or outside of your company having the ability to view and edit any spec on record without the proper permissions. So, when searching for a software it is important to check if systems allow you to closely monitor and choose who can access content, participate in workflows, and who will receive emails when specs go effective.
4) Integration Capabilities
Sometimes using only a packaging spec software does not offer all of the capabilities your company needs to be as efficient as possible. In this case, it is important to have a system that can integrate with other programs.
For example, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a software that many companies layer on top of their specification management programs to add greater functionality. ERP helps businesses manage operations as a whole, and when integrated with packaging management software, the two can make internal collaboration easier and improve project management. Such integration enables the collection of organization-wide information and data. It allows for less manual entry by packaging engineers, procurement and distributors and lets the system of record control various inputs (i.e. SKUs, GTINs, etc) and automatically share and tie the information to the other business critical system.
So, before choosing a specification management system, it is important to remember that your company may need a software that can integrate with other important programs at some point in the future. This can allow your company to increase its efficiency and continue improving your packaging capabilities.
5) Document Control Capabilities
The integration of document control with packaging management is crucial. To remain compliant with industry standards and to keep packaging operations tightly organized, document control ties together the components of packaging specifications and processes and keeps track of all data needed to perform packaging correctly.
Even further, choosing a specification management system with version control capabilities within the document control integration will greatly improve business processes. Version control is a method of tracking changes to documents and files so that you always know which version is current. And in case you want to review changes or need to restore a previous version, it also enables you to maintain old copies of your documents. Supervising products and communicating with suppliers results in the creation of a lot of documents. By using specification management software with version control, you can efficiently track and control changes to these documents directly within your software.
When you have multiple revisions and no streamlined way to control versions, the risk of working from the wrong file is very likely. But with version control, when important specs are being passed and edited by various suppliers and coworkers, no one will need to worry if the information they are looking at is up to date. And, you will be able to track and manage the changes made to each document, ensure that content cannot be accessed by unauthorized users, get notified if there are pending updates that are awaiting approval, view the most current content and know who reviewed/approved it and when, and respond to external audits with history reports. For these reasons, document and version control is an integral part of packaging specification management.
6) Legacy Data Migration
The last capability you should look at when choosing a packaging specification management system is how your legacy data will be migrated into your new software. You need to put your trust in a vendor that you know has the experience and expertise to quickly and efficiently transfer your important information without making mistakes or requiring months to finish the process.
The data migration you choose should have the ability to do the following:
- Identify optimum routing workflows
- Handle metadata when coming from a paper-based or network share data management process
- Link related documents
- Use picklists to organize data (as opposed to text-based user entries), default numbering schemes, and other ways to control data inputs
- Consult about read-only fields, read-only form pages, custom reports, use of masters and templates, security to control who can do what to the various datasets, etc.
With these capabilities, your transfer process will be a breeze, and you will not have to worry about wasting time or losing important company data.
If your company is looking to begin using a pack spec management system, ENSUR Specification Management Software can help. ENSUR is a comprehensive system for creating, maintaining and publishing your specifications and business documents. Fully integrated with our document management features, the software allows for complete control over who can access which documents and tracks all activities with the ability to create reports for visibility and compliance. And, ENSUR’s version control features guarantee that your employees and suppliers are always working from the correct version of a spec or document.
Request a consultation to discuss how moving your manual processes to a specification management system can give you the flexibility, ease of use and integration capabilities your company requires all while offering controlled access to specs, document control capabilities, and simple data migration expertise.