Mission-critical labeling plays an essential role in today’s global, complex, and fast paced business environment. However, to support continuous operations, food businesses must be able to rely on 24/7 support for labeling. Also, with the increasing amount of labeling complexity driven by customer and regulatory requirements, it’s important to be able to tap into industry specific knowledge and best practices so that labeling can be both configured and optimized to meet each company’s needs. Enterprise labeling solutions allow customers to receive tailored service and support direct from the solution manufacturer, ensuring maximum production uptime, reducing the need for costly IT resources and increasing overall supply chain efficiency.
In order to optimize the capabilities of an enterprise labeling solution, companies should take advantage of the best practices advice and insights and knowledge transfer that come from companies that design, develop, and implement the software they’re using. These companies possess industry-specific knowledge, technical expertise, and offer ongoing training and support.
In many situations customers move from homegrown or other third-party systems so implementation and training becomes a critical part of the transition to the new labeling solution. The right services and consulting will ensure that the right components are chosen, the right integrations put in place, the right business rules enacted, and the right data sources identified. Services can also help on an ongoing basis, as a company’s labeling needs change and as new market, industry, and regulatory challenges arise. The right set of services will help you optimize the use of an enterprise labeling solution and maximize the benefits you can derive from it.
Another best practice is leveraging services to ensure that the labeling environment is configured to support a company’s mission-critical and high volume labeling. Rather than having the customer install and configure the software, a best practices approach calls for the software provider to assist in configuring the labeling environment, which will most often consist of test environment, development environment, and production environments. These multiple environments are important to ensure that the appropriate processes can be followed for system updates as well as ensuring that changes can be properly staged into production environments.
Training is a critical step in educating users and administrators on the capabilities and options available to them that can be employed to best meet the labeling requirements for the business. And, getting that training directly from the people who developed the solution offers a real advantage.
There are different types of training for different types of users. It’s important training is tailored so that the correct users are being educated on capabilities that are relevant to the job function and that the level of knowledge they receive allows them to get the most out of the solution. Training can range from system administrator training that covers the install, the support, and troubleshooting of the solution to user training that focuses on designing labels and for those configuring systems, adding users, and adding permissions.
Initial training takes place at implementation time so the users know exactly how to use the new system, how to design labels, how to print from it, and how to troubleshoot issues. There is also ongoing training provided by the software manufacturer, which assists with the organization’s growth. This can take the form of a best practices refresher or training for new employees that need to understand how to best use the solution that is already in place. It’s also very important to offer training for new functionality for any new product releases. When a company upgrades and is provided with a lot of new enhancements, employees should be trained on how to use new capabilities to maximize their business benefit.
Gaining the proper insight and making sure the right people understand individual roles is critical to making sure an enterprise labeling solution is running optimally and that the business is getting the most out of an investment.
Given the mission critical nature of labeling, companies can’t afford downtime or anything that slows or impacts production. When companies are looking for assistance, they need answers that are timely and accurate. Also, for many organizations with continuous operations, they require that those answers be available 24/7/365. No business wants to be faced with a production down issue, while waiting for Monday morning to resolve a printer issue. This is why it is essential to partner with someone who fully understands and can troubleshoot the labeling. This provider must know how to react quickly and efficiently regardless of the day or time and independent of where your business is in the world. The only way to get the right answers at the right time is to partner directly with the solution manufacturer since they know the solution inside out.
A smooth transition to support is an essential part of the post-implementation hand-off from services. This must be a two-way transition. Users need to know who to call, when to call, and what to expect from the technical support center. On the other hand, the technical support team needs to know and have documented every detail of a company’s implementation. They need to know what components in use, what integrations are at play, details about the print hardware environment, any other nuances from the implementations as well as who the key contacts are for the labeling solution at the company.
Without the right type of technical support and a solid understanding of the solution and its technologies, companies put continuous operations at risk and may lose valuable time and energy troubleshooting issues. This is why it’s key to have access to technical support with extensive knowledge of the solution and its capabilities, backed up by a knowledge base, and an integrated team from software engineering. In addition to technical depth, the support team must appreciate that downtime is expensive, and that, when a customer in distress calls, responsiveness matters.
With all of today’s regulatory and compliance issues that have an impact on labeling, providers should have specialized, industry specific knowledge. These regulations and emerging standards are impacting a wide range of industries around the world and labeling is a specific area where constant change is necessary to comply with evolving requirements. Companies need solutions/providers that will assist them in meeting compliance so they can avoid fines, disruptions to the supply chain, and loss of business.
Thornton has over 25 years management experience in the printing and labeling industries and is currently the director of technical services and support at Loftware. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.