Five Steps to Transform Your Specification Program

Building and maintaining an effective raw material and finished goods specification program is crucial for getting new products to customers. But it’s a time-consuming process.

We hear from a lot of companies in the food, beverage, and supplements industries that tell us how creating and managing raw material and finished goods specifications is labor-intensive and slow. As a result, companies struggle to maintain effective collaboration across departments. And when it comes to suppliers, the slow-motion collaboration gets worse.

Most companies we talk to still rely on a combination of spreadsheets, shared drives, and, if they’re lucky, sluggish databases to manage specifications. These static tools make it nearly impossible to track progress and understand status.

If you’re managing specifications like this in your business, there’s a better way. And it begins with five simple steps.

1. Choose a Networked Platform.

Emails, voicemails, and online meetings have taken over our lives, often dictating how we do business. Today, static tools that lack version and integration mechanisms are no longer an option for teams that want to deliver innovative, high-quality, cost-effective products to customers quickly. Adopting a networked platform allows teams to streamline specification management. The status of specifications, suppliers, and other crucial product information is visible to everyone on the team in one place, from any device.

2. Drive Team Collaboration.

Creating and updating specifications is not a one-person job. It requires input from across the organization and supply chain. The most successful companies forge solid and coordinated ties with their customers, partners, suppliers, and other stakeholders. But before they can do that, they need to eliminate silos within their own four walls. When you can’t see what other team members are doing, progress is slow and can stop altogether. With a networked approach, you connect with your suppliers, items, and ingredients and get instant access to all that data to speed up your spec process. You no longer have to track down suppliers and ask for information or documents because you already have what you need.

3. Automate Manual Tasks.

Teams that rely on manual steps for repetitive, routine specification management tasks go slower and are less effective. Workflows and alerts allow teams to conduct real-time tasks alongside automated steps to increase speed, eliminate errors, and improve product outcome reliability and quality. And stakeholder notifications for updates, reviews, approvals, and other actions can help keep your specification management program on track.

4. Embrace Standardization.

Navigating multiple documentation streams is challenging enough. Simultaneously, juggling different document formats is frustrating and slows you down. Manufacturers that lean into standardization can achieve greater operational efficiency. This transformation begins with configurable templates that let users draft and manage specifications, tie them to existing items, ingredients, and suppliers, and establish standard operating procedures (SOPs). With the right digital solution, teams can edit sections and attributes of specification templates that automatically cascade to all impacted specs.

5. Digitize Everything.

The information contained within your specification program goes well beyond defining product ingredients. It holds intellectual property and a gold mine of insight that can significantly contribute to your business. So why not use it to power dashboards and reports to spot issues and track trends? Better yet, combine it with the data in your ERP and PLM solutions to gain complete supply chain transparency.

Networked Specification Management allows teams to create, publish, and update raw material and finished goods specifications in a single networked platform. Find out how you can transform your specification program to reduce costs, increase product quality, and control risk. Watch our on-demand webinar to learn more about TraceGains’ networked approach to specification management here.

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