Packaging Specifications, Featuring Gartner Insight

Posted By: Michelle Duerst


Quick Change Artist

How do you effectively maintain quality and standards while allowing flexibility?


The first impression a company makes on a customer is not the product itself, but its packaging. For many companies, this can change throughout the year based on special promotions.


The challenge lies in being able to quickly adapt, while maintaining strict levels of compliance and quality.


1.    Start with a Single Source of Truth

Before you can begin adapting, you must make sure that all of your packaging design team members are literally on the same page.


Gartner explains, “The demand for globally accessible formula/recipe management is growing, because manufacturers increasingly must make significant trade-offs between multiple regional variations of production capabilities and raw materials, while harmonizing multiple brands and resources.


Many manufacturers of consumer products, for example, seek to create a common reference for formulas, recipes and other product specifications (such as packaging and labeling), and this often means a rationalization of several small and disconnected IT assets.”[1]


Not only will a centralized database provide instant updates and more accurate information, but it will also conform to a standardized structure to ensure you are not missing key information.


This structure should include:

  • Customizable material attributes
  • Specification templates, with the ability to clone and edit (ex: glass container, label, corrugate case, consumer unit, etc.)
  • Managed access for defined team members


2.    Search and Leverage

Now that your team has a centralized database, they must be able to actually use it. The specification data should be indexed and allow users to now only define customizable queries, but save them for future use.


Key elements for any search should include:

  • Any attribute of the specification
  • Where the specification is used
  • Attachments for any specification
  • Audit trail showing versions, authors, published dates (including versioning for the specification)

3.   Define Workflows

Once your team can access and search past specifications, they must be able to define the workflows that will allow them to create or clone new specifications.


This is a critical step to ensuring standardized quality levels and compliance, while allowing new elements to be introduced for regional markets and holiday promotions.


Specification workflows should include:

  • What: Granular structure for required criteria for a new specification, with the ability to import and store information from other systems
    • Supplier Collaboration
    • CAD Drawings
    • ERP
    • Supply Chain
  • Who: Defined who will review the new specifications, with automated notification, electronic signature, and approval history per 21 CFR Part 11 requirements
  • How: Define the review and approval workflow, including escalation and final notification
  • When: Define when specification goes live in the system, automatic distribution, and how it can be accessed by authorized team members and most importantly


4.   Specification Management

Change not only defines your product, but the packaging as well. As your regional and promotional needs change, you must be able to adapt the packaging to the new requests quickly, efficiently, and complying with all regulatory legislations.  


These will include:

  • Comparison: Easily identify changes in a specification both in versions as well as distinctly separate specifications
  • Hierarchy: Define a “Parent” set of specifications to be used across multiple “Child” specifications
  • Supersedes: Define the effectivity date for a specification and when it will be replaced by another selected specification
  • Attachments: Import and manage multiple attachments, including vendor specifications for bought materials, artwork, and labeling data


[1] Source: Gartner, “Hype Cycle for Process Manufacturing, 2014” by Janet Suleski, Marc Halpern, and Simon F Jacobson, July 2014


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