David Roberge

By: David Roberge on February 22nd, 2018

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The Lucrative Difference of Packaging Design With Team Alignment

The Business of Packaging

If you’ve ever gone through the packaging development process, you know how many variables and unknowns there are to coordinate. Your project can quickly spiral out of control and result in missed deadlines and exceeding your budget. You may also have to hit the drawing board more than a few times to solve problems that inevitably arise. And these are exacerbated when you fail to include all relevant teams and align your perspective to the same goal(s).

Say your manufacturing and design teams have different expectations on how a flexible package should open. If they’re not on the same page, not only will they become frustrated, but the added time to clarify expectations and rework samples will push back your timelines, balloon your budget, and potentially lead to missed deliveries and unhappy customers.

Though just one example, it doesn’t take too much imagination to envision other instances in which discord can lead several costly issue. It’s why getting every stakeholder involved is instrumental to your packaging development process.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the issues with misalignment and how you can best ensure your teams are on the same page.


What Can Happen if Your Teams Aren’t Aligned?


Every situation has its differences, but there are common struggles that any business can face when teams aren’t in complete harmony. The following are the biggest problem areas and how they manifest throughout the packaging process.


Missed Deadlines

Going back and forth between teams takes a lot of time, and if you’ve yet to get on the same page to this point, it could take several discussions to find agreement on the ways to move forward. Now imagine a key decision maker is on vacation when a mistake or issue arises in your development process – You could set your project back by a factor of weeks. Sticking to a production schedule often has a profound effect on your brand's reputation. So even if you build in a cushion for revisions, a lack of alignment could put your deadlines at serious risk, as well as your brand.


Going Over Budget

The package development process has a ton of cost variables – paying for prototypes, multiple rounds of design revisions, and the salaries of your design and manufacturing teams to name a few. All of these costs add up to what can be an enormous expense, and any time added for back and forth quickly erodes your budget. Aligning your teams from the beginning minimizes that financial burden, though. Your designers will also be in the best position to create the desired product on the first attempt, simplifying the manufacturing process and saving your precious dollars.


Employee Frustration

Considering the pressure that can embody such complex projects, the possibility of missing deadlines and going over budget can create great frustration. Frustration is also a common side effect of miscommunication (or a lack of communication). There are design and manufacturing teams that have been at each other’s throats before. No one wants to experience such unnecessary tension in the workplace, though. And frustration can also impact someone’s quality of work.


Unhappy Customers

With internal discord, the most important stakeholder can easily be forgotten. Your customers can be affected in a number of ways if you miss deadlines and go over budget. As mentioned above, they may not have their item shipped in a timely manner. You may also have to increase the price of your product due to inefficient packaging development. Whether a current customer or prospective consumer, all of the above can lead a consumer to look for other options in the present or future.

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How to Get Every Team Member on the Same Page


Bringing together a team of varying stakeholders is no easy task, and no one should try to convince you otherwise. But if you don’t take measures to maximize your chances of success, you can’t claim to have done all you could to nurture a successful project. To that end, the following are four components you can control, each of which will help you foster a productive packaging process.


Identify Your Sore Spots

Step one in any project is identifying potential problems. Whether its team weaknesses, recurring issues or interdepartmental breakdowns, noting these challenges helps you plan to mitigate those risks. Does your design team repeatedly surpass the capability of manufacturing? Is your manufacturing team reluctant to implement innovative packaging methods? Figuring out where problems lie will help you make the biggest improvement within and between any teams.


Align Team Goals

While you need a “guiding light” – one true goal that dictates your decision making – getting to the root of what your teams want to accomplish will help you identify potential compromises that align with your big-picture goal. If your design team’s goal is to create a standout design that can improve sales, but manufacturing is hoping to improve efficiencies and cut costs with minimal packaging materials, how can you accommodate both agendas? Conversation and collaboration is always the start of any possible answers.


Initiate Collaboration

Bring your team leads together on a consistent basis to discuss newly-aligned goals and an action plan to make them happen. When both teams are involved, equally invested, and aspire to achieve the same overarching goals, you’ll minimize the potential for issues to derail your process and project.


Measure Success and Iterate Progress

Too often, design and manufacturing teams implement new systems and processes without defining a measurement of success. How can you ensure alignment between your teams without a quantitative definition of success. Measuring all aspects of your packaging development process is even more impactful. This data helps you identify weaknesses and opportunities for improvement. Then you’re able to iterate on those areas of need and continuously improve your efficiencies. Over time, you’ll reduce your overhead and increase your profitability.


Promote Efficiency and a Stronger Bottom Line


Misalignment between design and production teams is a common issue, but its prevalence isn’t a reason to allow it to affect your efficiency and success. Working to align these teams might take substantial time initially, but these efforts are an investment toward minimizing the time and money you spend throughout packaging development.

The earlier in the design process you get your teams on the same page, the better they’ll work together, and the faster they’ll be able to get your products into the hands of your customers.


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About David Roberge

I am grateful for my 9 years as part of the outstanding Industrial Packaging team. I was able to hang out with some of the most knowledgeable folks in the packaging industry. I feel even luckier that I was able to share that knowledge with you. I love learning, hiking, and growing people and teams both personally and professionally, and helping companies grow better.