On Wednesday the 20th May 4Pack UK ran the second in our Digital Accelerator Series of webinars: Turbo-charge your Transparency: 5 ways a digital system can increase your compliance, hosted by our very own Helen Poole (4PACK UK, Managing Director) and Karen Thompson (4PACK UK, Implementation Manager).
We set up this webinar because we want to share our thoughts on how to leverage efficiencies that can be gained from working in a digital way to really boost transparency throughout the product launch process, build best practice and improve compliance. And we are focused on - 5 ways a digital system can improve your compliance:
It is imperative that all teams (not just the compliance and regulatory folk!) play their part to ensure complete compliance, consistency and control throughout the product launch process, so that your consumers are safe and market regulations are adhered to.
We believe that compliance can be considered at 3 levels and a digital system should provide the capability to ensure these are all met:
The first element to address is WHY transparency and compliance are so important and a responsibility of all teams (and supply chain partners) that touch your product launch process
It is a fact that the FSA saw a 36% increase in allergy and food alerts in 2019.
Example: Miami Burger recall that happened only in March – due to ‘may contain milk’ declaration being missed on pack – this is a prime example of how errors can significantly impact your brand, bottom line and potentially put consumers at risk….
So… A digital system should bring instant transparency and provide you at least these 5 benefits to enable you to become efficiently compliant!
We talked in our last webinar about the importance of centralizing your information and data, and what a game-changer “going digital” through centralisation is. Doing so means you can maintain the integrity of that information as it serves as the single source of truth for the teams to work from, add to and reference.
Having a single, easy to see history of changes and approvals the project has gone through also means tracing or auditing any product can be done simply and quickly, which can be invaluable in the event of an incident or challenge.
Providing a digital system with visibility into product data in a connected, centralised way also means that you can pro-actively identify which products or ingredients are going to be impacted by forthcoming changes in any of the markets you sell to, allowing you to manage those changes more effectively.
Through control and centralisation you are also mitigating risk of error by eliminating double handling and re-entering data and ensuring the appropriate sign offs are in place before launching.
By using a digital system we can ensure that all our specifications are standardized and consistent. Data within specs is a gold mine of information in specifications to any organisation, and it’s important where possible to remove any internal variation by manufacturing site or by supplier.
Our goals are to: Firstly, make our specifications consistent across sites and teams. Secondly, use digital workflow to delegate data entry within specifications to internal teams and even suppliers. Thirdly, to ensure that layouts and methods of data entry are consistent. And lastly, associate ownership to data so instead of a single person, make each dept responsible for their inputs,
improving quality and saving time through double handling to achieve RFT.
This gives us the benefits of:
What we mean by automating complex rule is using a digital system to automate things that would usually require rigorous enforcement and scrutiny.
Example 1 - We can use a digital system automatically determine what claims, warning statements, logos should be added on pack by product category
Example 2 - Or encode market & regulations rules to automatically control and build content like:
These processes and calculations are complex operations for us humans to handles especially if we add the complexity of multiple languages. But once validated, a system can handle these without issue.
It is extremely helpful from a compliance perspective to be able to ensure that legal content is always correct on label. When all labels are created with a consistent approach, we improve quality, consumer perception and brand image.
Automation gives us the following benefits
Once product information is approved centrally, our goal should be distribute this content digitally and not download it and rekey or import it in elsewhere.
So for example, we are talking about taking approved content (e.g. ingredients or nutrition fact table) from a central source and then digitally directing this content wherever it is required whether data pools, internal or external websites or retailers.
This places us in full control of our content, wherever it is displayed internally and externally, removing potential for error and delay.
EXAMPLE: DYNAMIC ARTWORK
This is being able to create or update an artwork directly in house from the approved product content (pack copy). Once a graphics service provider has supplied a dynamic template (correct technical and brand) then all pack copy can be added in house by manufacturer
We have customers using the Dynamic Artwork functionality in 4Pack.
For them it is a game changer. They are storing centrally their product and pack copy specifications in 4Pack and using digital workflow to collate and approve them. The using dynamic allows a complete streamlining of the product update process and can payback in a time saving of up to 80% - not least also the artwork costs.
So we are smarter if we digitially distribute our content!
The BENEFITS of which are
Transparency is having a full digital audit of actions that can be analysed for multiple purposes – approvals, project status (RAG), linking of content together; from ingredient to product, to pack copy, to artwork relationships.
Not only will increasing transparency and improving your compliance give you peace of mind, it’ll also significantly speed up approvals, with emails and manual sign off’s becoming a thing of the past.
Your compliance people (internal or external) will get back nearly half of their time through not having to chase information – that’s huge!
What’s more: you get to see and trace the history of each project and have instant access to digital audit trails. In the event of any query investigation or audit, this will allow you to respond with confidence and accuracy within hours, not days. That may sound like a small thing, but speaks volumes for your credibility.
In an agile process, last-minute changes are the norm. Product information, suppliers, design or manufacturing specs can change up until the last minute. Connected visibility allows you to manage and synchronise these without compromising the integrity of the final output.
Speeding the whole process up doesn’t just reduce cost of rework or extra time spent, it also means you can get products to market more quickly, and get sales revenue in faster.
We know that before ‘Going Digital’ some organizations spend weeks gathering all their data for BRC audits (this is an annual event!), it requires at least one full time employee and often an external consultant to gather all the necessary information and link it together to provide a full landscape view…..
A digital and more importantly connected system should be able to report against ANY data that is captured within the system – so not only does it provide instant visibility for audit purposes, it enables your business to identify process improvements and drive continuous improvements.
Q: “We are working from spreadsheets now – where do we start, it looks like we have a lot to consider..”
KT: It’s a good question, a huge number of people are in or have been in the same situation. Using spreadsheets as a way to handle spreadsheets has been the norm over the past decade. However, a digital system can combine the flexibility of Excel with additional data consistency, automated versioning and status control.
In order, to simplify the process, we would suggest engaging with a system provider. A system provider will help you in a number of ways. It will allow you harmonise your specifications in terms of content and layout, whilst working out the best way to digitise your specificaitons. You can then link your specifictions together, ingredient or product, to create a “where used” framework of information. And finally you can then digitise your workflows, adding in the steps where you need to delegate data entry and/or validation to individual departments.
Q: “We are under pressure to get our product launches out faster – does trying to increase compliance work against us?”
HP: In short, absolutely not, in fact it is quite the opposite particularly when you factor in these five key ways a system can support your projects. Being consistent in your ways of working, speeds up your process and drives that Right First Time mindset throughout the launch process. Centralising and having control of your information and enabling teams to collaborate but with checks and balances to ensure approval before moving to the next stage of the project or launching, mitigates risk of error and non-compliance thus reducing the need for re-work, saving time and cost. It will actually speed you up not slow you down!