The premise of specification management is that everything should start with the DNA-level of products and packaging. It’s not enough to simply digitize specifications; they have to be mapped and interconnected to drive intelligence.
Once you digitize and map specifications in a single source of truth, it becomes easy and effective to layer on the right workflows, approvals, and processes. It also enables you to achieve outcomes ranging from improved supplier collaboration, sustainability, and consolidating SKUs. Download our White Paper or request a demo to learn why specification management is the future of supply chain.
Raw Materials Management
When we talk about DNA-level data, we usually start at the raw material level. Believe it or not, there are specs for everything from soil to aluminum and even water. By managing raw material specifications as a building block of product specifications, companies can also easily track sustainability and find ways to make improvements throughout a product lifecycle.
Formula and Ingredients Management
When brands move formulas, ingredients, and other specification documents from static PDFs and spreadsheets to interconnected, digital product specifications, it becomes easier to manage what ingredients even enter the supply chain to begin with.
Having this formula workbench provides visibility into how products are related to one another across brands and enables other departments like purchasing to better procure ingredients (or replace products and have immediate awareness of where things are used). This connectivity also enables companies to ensure compliance with regulations such as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), leverage automated safeguards to prevent incorrect claims, and enable more streamlined ingredient procurement.
At Specright, we started Specification Data Management™ with packaging because of its complexity. With 40 to 50 different types of packaging, each with their own critical data and relationship to products, brands, or retailers, Specification Management software makes it easy to manage existing packaging solutions and develop new packaging from existing specs or selecting existing solutions in place creating redundant SKUs.
A critical part of packaging or product data are sub-assemblies, which make up a part of a finished good. With Specright, brands can easily manage these relationships from cradle to grave and understand how sub-assemblies relate to different finished goods. Companies can also leverage sub-assemblies when working with multiple partners to manufacture a final product, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
For example, you can easily connect a tube and cap sub-assembly to a Bill of Materials or a semi-finished good with multiple ingredients to a formula.
Labels & Artwork Management
Another packaging pain point typically revolves around labels and artwork management. While many products may share the same package, there is high variance with labels and artworks. This is especially prevalent given the rise of personalization, private label, and globalization. Now, marketers and creative teams can easily collaborate on artwork and label approvals and understand the relationship between artwork and structural packaging.
Store critical documents such as labels, graphics, or artwork in a single place. Doing so creates better version control and prevents vendors or suppliers from printing out-of-date materials. It also streamlines product management by making it easy to see what’s in market if changes are required.
As commerce continues to evolve, packaging testing will continue to be a priority for brands, suppliers, and consumers who are annoyed when they receive damaged products. With the launch of PackSight, a new digital testing platform for ISTA standards powered by Specright, companies increase testing visibility can reduce the time it takes to complete packaging testing.
Bill of Materials Management
Bill of materials management is a critical part of specification management and managing product development. Before specification management, a bill of materials was a list of items in a finished product, such as a folding carton, wrapper, ingredients, and so on. With Specification Data Management, the specs within a bill of materials are live, digital specs and linked together to create a bill of materials. These linkages make it easy for companies to substitute products or ingredients or identify labels or packaging that need to be rebranded. (with no duplication of like specs)
Machinery & Facilities Management
While machinery and heavy equipment purchases are huge capital expenditures, most companies know little about the exact specifications of what they’re buying. This leads to delays in procuring new equipment, potentially ordering the wrong part or asset, or losing track of how it should operate in production as the machine settles over time. With specification management, you can capture all of the relevant machinery details, operating levels, and more – and tie it back to product specifications for advanced analysis. With the rise of factory automation and the industrial internet of things, the ability to tie operating data with specifications creates new product insights, facilitates maintenance and part replacement, and makes it easier to fulfill new cap-ex requests.
Process and Manufacturing Specs
The rise of contract manufacturers and global manufacturing have made process and manufacturing specifications more critical than ever. In addition to capturing ingredients and formulas, you can store and associate those to visually descriptive manufacturing process specs and industry standards that dictate how something should be made. As regulatory demands increase and quality concerns grow, ensuring all stakeholders have access to the correct, up-to-date process spec can help avoid costly recalls or manufacturing issues. The industries that benefit the most from this include food and beverage, nutritional supplements, medical devices, life sciences, and cosmetics due to increasing regulations and direct impact to consumers.
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
With Specright, Materials Safety Data Sheets are digitized and tied to individual specs for increased traceability and reportability.
Supplier Corrective Action Requests
Immediately take action on quality control issues by triggering SCAR and Corrective Action requests through Specright. By tying requests to the specification, supplier, lot code and more, companies can easily implement supplier management programs, analyze trends over time and better collaborate with their suppliers to resolve issues.
Quality & Regulatory Documentation
As regulations become more complex, we believe a different approach to quality management is required – and it starts with preventing the wrong specs from even entering your supply chain. By associating critical quality and regulatory documentation to the spec level, companies immediately increase traceability in their supply chain and improve lifecycle management.
Certificate of Analysis
Be prepared for your next audit by having COAs tied to the specification level. By working with suppliers through Specright’s Supplier Collaboration Hub, rest assured that the right COAs and quality documents are maintained and suppliers are automatically flag for missing or expired documentation.
The following supply chain stakeholders benefit from Specification Management
With specification management, packaging teams spend more time on innovation and less time chasing data.
Product Development & Innovation
How can you create the next great product design without knowing how you got there in the first place? Through product specification management you can trace how something is made to the spec level.
With Specification Data Management, brand management goes beyond consumer insights to product insights.
Supply Chain Executives
We believe that unlocking profitability starts with deep knowledge of your products.
We believe that manufacturer specs are dead. There should be a single, live spec that’s shared to keep everyone on the same page. We also think the concept of “manufacturer” specs are dead. There should be a single, live spec that’s shared to keep everyone on the same page.
Quality & Compliance
With specification management, quality goes beyond logging issues – it starts with building in the intelligence to prevent them in the first place.
Now that we’ve covered what specification management is, we’ll dive into the history of manufacturing technology and the external forces that led to a need for a spec-first approach.
The Rise of Specification Management Software
When you look at the history of manufacturing technology, PLMs or Product Lifecycle Management tools were developed in the 80s to manage complex manufacturing such as automobiles or jet engines. In the 90s, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions came on the scene to digitize the financial ledger and make it easier for companies to track profits and expenses. In the early 2000s, industrial automation and Industry 4.0 led to the use of more robots in manufacturing facilities and Industrial Internet solutions capable of predictive and preventive machine maintenance.
All of these solutions led to tremendous gains for manufacturers, co-manufacturers and brands alike. However, changing consumer trends and regulatory environments were creating a new kind of pressure. And existing systems started to break. When it came to having the right information to make, sell and buy products – commonly referred to as specifications – companies were realizing they didn’t have control of their supply chain data.
“At Specright, we’ve really studied the concept of spec drift: how specs change and morph over time and fail to keep up with the actual product. We’ve run some interesting studies and found that most companies are running about a 20% variance of actual product to specified product.” – Matthew Wright, Founder & CEO, Specright
Specification Management Solves 3 Issues with Packaging and Product Data
Lack a common language
Have incomplete data
and lack critical components
Not built for sharing
beyond the enterprise
While these three key problems always existed, they became exacerbated by trends such as:
- Consumer desire for variety
- Private label growth
- International expansion
- Retailer influence
As a result of these trends, SKU proliferation became hard to manage this critical intellectual property using traditional ways of working: spreadsheets, custom ERP modules, and home-grown solutions. A new way of working and bringing products to life is required: it’s what we call Specification Data Management™.
Learn how industry and market forces in the food & beverage industry have led to SKU proliferation.
Adopting a Spec-First Management System
Moving from old systems and processes to a new way of working is a journey, but it’s one that the market demands. The good news is, you don’t have to boil the ocean to achieve benefits of a specification management solution.
You start with a product line, a division, even a group – and you just keep building.
At Specright, we’re working with some of the most established brands to help them reimagine how they make products to challenger brands who inherently want to disrupt the status quo. It’s amazing to watch what they’re doing and how fast things are happening for them.
We’re passionate about Specification Data Management because it’s the right approach – and it enables people to spend more time doing what they love: making amazing products and delighting customers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Specification management is the process of building and collecting DNA-level information for products and packaging into a centralized system. When you digitize and link specifications together, you create visibility and traceability across your supply chain. This makes it easy to layer on workflows, approvals, and processes. It’s not enough to simply digitize specifications; they need to be mapped and interconnected to drive intelligence. Specification management also enables you to achieve outcomes ranging from improved supplier collaboration, sustainability, and consolidating SKUs.
Specification Data Management is the foundation for all supply chain operations. When companies implement Specification Data Management, downstream systems become smarter and more accurate. Specification Data Management aids in the collection of specifications from all stakeholders, providing interconnected data that drives automation and intelligence. As a cloud-based SaaS platform, it’s easy to pass and share data with other systems and functions as a single source of truth for the entire supply chain.
Product specifications are any details needed for designing products. There should be enough information provided that a complete product can be built from a company’s product specs. Product specifications are the foundation of all goods providing businesses and hold the data that drives efficiencies, cuts costs, and serves your customers. These can range from product components such as packaging specifications, formula specifications or ingredient specifications all the way to finished product specifications.
The main purpose of product specifications are so the product team can detail exactly what they want the supply chain to produce. Specifications documents function as the communication medium between stakeholders during product development and serve as a contract of the expectations for production.
A specification includes any technical information regarding components of product design and supply chain considerations. For example, a food and beverage product spec sheet would include details on the recipe for the product, where ingredients are sourced from, Food and Drug Administration standards, amongst other information. Specifications should reflect everything that is required to make a product; as such, requirements management is a critical part of specification management.
A product design specification is anything from ingredients, to recipes, to packaging details, and manufacturing methods. Specifications house all of the crucial data needed to create the final product.