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4 Tips for Creating Effective Product Specifications

Product Specification Management

For manufacturing and packaging professionals, creating an effective specification is imperative. If your specs are subpar, your project will inevitably fall short of your quality expectations. In this article, we’ll discuss 4 ways to ensure your specifications are well crafted and highly effective, including how to outline your product goals and establish thorough quality controls.

Why is Specification Data Important?

Before we tackle how to create effective specifications, it’s important to outline exactly what makes spec data so important. A specification acts as a blueprint for each of your products, outlining what it’ll look like, its purpose, and its specific requirements. Thorough specifications benefit both your product and your team; let’s take a look at how:

Benefits to Your Product

A detailed and well-formed specification aims to set production and quality standards before your project and manufacturing even begin. This ensures your team is aligned in terms of what needs to be done throughout production. Your spec helps manage project complexity, create priorities in terms of manufacturing schedule, and prevents scope and feature creep by setting project limits. Overall, this creates a superior and well-formed product in a shorter amount of time.

In addition, specs help your company in post-production by resolving problems that occurred during manufacturing by providing insight into your product line. Well-formed specs function as a guide for measuring success and return on investment of manufacturing time.

Benefits to Your Team

For your team, effective specifications act as communication tools. If they are written correctly, they are an efficient and straightforward way for your employees and stakeholders to collaborate on manufacturing design ideas. As more team members contribute to a spec, you’re ensuring that everyone working on your product is on the same page, limiting difficulties that may arise from overlapping work.

How Can You Write Effective Specs?

There are four major steps to creating detailed and beneficial packaging specifications.

  1. Outline your product goals

The first step in spec writing is to outline your major product goals. This means providing a product summary that introduces the product's concept, the intended use, as well as the quality standards the product will be expected to uphold. With these details documented, every team member that contributes to and reads your spec will know exactly what the manufacturing process is aiming to accomplish. Taking the time to understand upfront requirements simplifies initial product development, packaging design, and your overall production line. 

  1. Take your stakeholders into account

As mentioned earlier, effective specs keep your entire team on the same page. These communication benefits don’t end at your internal team, it is equally as important to utilize your stakeholders while writing your specifications. The main reason for this lies in the importance of stakeholder feedback to the product development process. Opening the discussion to everyone who contributes to your organization can bring in more people to complete the job and teach things you otherwise wouldn’t have known about your manufacturing processes.

In addition, involving stakeholders will help more members of your team contribute to your product's development. This allows employees to feel a closer connection to the product and become more invested in its overall success. This helps unite employees across different departments and bolster your company’s communication.

  1. Utilize linking to increase visibility

Although it is possible for specifications in your company to stand alone, utilizing linking can bring major benefits for most products. Through linking, you can create interconnected Bill of Materials (BOMs) and easily keep track of finished products. To fully understand this concept, let’s discuss an example:

Say you’re an engineer at a company that manufactures chairs, and you created a detailed chair specification. You also created 2 other specs for the wood used to build the chair and the fabric used to create the pillow for the chair. You can link these three specs together, enabling you to navigate through each packaging or product element and see where else it’s used in your product line, where it’s manufactured, or which vendor supplies it. This also allows you to easily copy related specifications and specify the quantity of a linked specification relative to the spec that is using it.

Linking specs in this way strengthens the communication and understanding between engineers, manufacturers, and stakeholders since they can more easily understand which specs are used where and when. This creates a more transparent manufacturing process and provides complete supply chain visibility. 

  1. Perform quality control and revise

Once your spec is written and your product is being manufactured, it is important to conduct quality control. This means that during your project implementation, responsible parties must evaluate how well the product conforms to the specifications drawn up in your original planning phase. You need to confirm that all the standards you have put into place when creating your spec are met, and you need to identify any mishaps or errors that need to be corrected. The sooner you can catch these errors, the better. As such, you should be paying attention to all aspects of the product, including both the materials used and the process of putting them together.

After you’ve measured your product’s quality, it’s time to take these notes back to your spec engineers and work to fix the problems you've discovered, if any were found. Product specs are meant to be works in progress. This means that your company needs to constantly make edits to improve the performance of its accompanying product.

Taking the extra time to write thorough specifications can be the difference between a successful product and one that falls flat. Not only will an effective spec ease the burden of your engineers, but also your manufacturers and stakeholders. So, when creating your specs, make sure to outline your product goals, consider your stakeholders, utilize linking, and perform quality control for more beneficial, detailed specifications and a more streamlined manufacturing process.

If you are looking for an organization to help you optimize your specification management process, DocXellent can help. We are glad to advise you on how you can accomplish your goals and demonstrate how our specification management application can maximize your company’s efficiency. Contact us today.

Tags: manufacturing, Spec Management, packaging specification management, packaging