Guest Column | February 7, 2014

Packaging and Labeling: Design of Effective Change Management Programs For Artwork Improvement

be4ward logo: pharma packaging, labeling, artwork

By Stephen McIndoe BEng CEng MIET, VP Consulting, Be4ward

In my first article on this subject, “Change Management issues in artwork improvement programs,” I talked about some of the issues that need to be considered when setting up an artwork capability improvement program.  The cross-functional and cross-geographic nature of the process adds complexity to the change management journey that needs to be designed in to the way the improvements are delivered.

In this article, I will discuss some of the change management aspects to consider to ensure the change is delivered in a sustainable way, and in future articles, I will look more at the design of individual improvement projects and some of the program management capabilities required to ensure effective delivery.

Involve All Impacted Stakeholders

The fundamental issue that needs to be addressed in the design of an artwork project is that it needs to be done in a way that involves all impacted stakeholders. This will help to ensure that the people impacted by the change feel involved in the development of the new capability and understand the decisions that were taken during the design.  It will also help to ensure their buy-in.  Furthermore, to stand any chance of the process being sustainable, support processes (as discussed in prior articles) also need to be put in place to identify issues quickly and take corrective action in a collaborative way.

From a management perspective, it is also clear that many decisions about the design of the capability cannot be taken by one manager alone. There needs to be the cross-functional, and sometimes cross-organizational, governance in place to ensure that the overall process is acceptable to all parties involved.

Making this sort of change happen is difficult and it takes time and a reasonable amount of resource to do it well. It then takes a continuous resource level to sustain it successfully. You need to ensure that your organization understands this and puts the right level of resource behind the change activity if it is to be successful.

Change Management Activities To Consider

What this translates into when it comes to designing artwork projects:

  • Establishing a cross-functional (and sometimes cross-organizational) governance or steering team that covers all impacted parts of the organization. This ensures that senior leadership of each function is involved in the decision making and can sponsor the required changes in their part of the organization.
  • Establishing a cross-functional project team involving team members from all impacted functions, to ensure that each function feels that it is fairly represented in the change, and that decisions made take into the account the needs of each function.  Functional representatives also bring credibility to the project when it is deployed in their specific functions.  Functional representatives also need to remember that the not only represent their function on the project, but also represent the project in their function – they have to face both ways and have a critical role to play in the delivery of the change.
  • Identifying and involving the end-to-end process owner in the project.   Having a single end-to-end process owner ensures that there is clear accountability for decision making and decisions are made in a joint way (ensuring an effective end-to-end process).  This doesn’t imply unilateral decision making – the process owner needs to be adept at engaging relevant stakeholders to reach the best outcome for the organization as a whole.
  • Establishing some clear design principles that can be used to guide the myriad of detailed design decisions that will need to be made, to ensure that the outcomes are aligned with business needs, and subsequent changes stay true to the original principles.  Typically, these principles would be agreed at a Steering Committee level.
  • Performing process and capability design that involves the cross-functional project team, to ensure that the process is reviewed from all organizational perspectives, so it’s robust and effective when implemented.  Issues that stakeholder groups have with the design need to be actively identified and managed.  If challenges are not resolved at this stage, they will likely reappear in implementation when they are much more difficult to address.
  • Identifying other cross-functional representatives from across the organization(s) to review and give input to proposed designs prior to them being finalized. The wider the proposals can be circulated and opinions sought, the more effective the buy-in to the change will be.  This preparing of end users is an essential part of the change management journey.
  • Having a clear mechanism within the project to make design decisions that takes into account the views from all the relevant parties and provides appropriate escalation to the steering team, if agreement cannot be reached.
  • Communicating plans and proposals to the wider organization(s) that will be impacted by the change as the project is proceeding, to ensure they are aware of and preparing for the change.  No one likes last minute mandated change that they have had no involvement in.   Typically, it is a case of the lower the involvement, the higher the resistance.
  • Ensuring that education, training. and competency assessment is thorough and robust and repeatable.
  • Ensuring that support processes and resources are also implemented to ensure that people executing the process remotely and infrequently will get the support they need when they need it.
  • Performing a review of the project once completed to ensure all learning is captured, acknowledged, and acted upon in future projects.

In Summary

If you are thinking that this all sounds like design by committee, then let us make it clear that this is not what we are suggesting here at all. There is clearly a level of give and take required to ensure that everyone at least understands and buys into the resulting design.  However, the design principles that you develop should guide decisions about the design and it is up to the project manager, process owner, and ultimately the steering team, to ensure this happens.

What is essential is a top down, middle out, and bottom up approach that ensures senior management are engaged to sponsor the change, middle management of the organization are behind the change to reinforce adoption, and end users understand the reasons for the change and have been adequately involved or represented to ensure solutions are robust and workable.

In the next article in this series, we will look at the design of individual improvement projects and some of the program management capabilities required to ensure effective delivery.