How to convince management that updating packaging is a worthwhile project

Do you have issues with your inbound packaging but your management is not - Listening -  Downgrading the problem – Neglecting your wish to address to issue – Asking you to focus your time elsewhere?

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It is very common that management is neglecting the issues that poor inbound transport packaging is causing and how it effects your day to day operations.

Transport packaging is often deemed as a necessary evil, you need it to be able to receive your goods but it’s just a “cost” and not something worthwhile to spend time on.

How did we end up here? Is it possible to change management’s perception and instead look at the true impact and value of inbound transport packaging?

I can only speculate as to why we are in this situation, but I believe that a few of the contributing factors could be:

  • Disconnection between operations and management, whereas management is not always able or even willing to see some of the challenges that operations is facing, and sometimes even if management has insight, they believe that fixing the issue is related to cost increases. Operations has difficulties arguing their case upwards and cost awareness is always of prime essence.
  • Procurement has their own directions from management and are often working with old and obsolete incentive plans, meaning that they are paid to lower cost on a specific item instead of looking at TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and the greater good of the company.

To summarise, management fears wasting money and resources on something they believe won’t benefit the bottom line. Which brings us back to the initial question, is it possible to change Management’s perception?

I’m glad to be able to say: YES IT IS!

By joining forces between the different departments within your company, you can get the leverage you need to convince Management that this is truly a project worthwhile to invest time in. The main blocker for this approach is that different departments normally don’t always see eye to eye on everything.

The department blocker is however very easy to overcome, because you have more touchpoints in common than what first meets the eye.

My opinion is that with the current global focus on sustainability (and rightly so) the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) team is the most straightforward lead in for project initiation. All companies have an established sustainability agenda, this can range from ethical sourcing to reduction of CO2 emissions and water consumption. The sustainability agenda is signed off by the Management and something that they just expect to happen.

Optimised packaging from controlled sources will significantly reduce CO2 emissions and water usage – CSR super Happy!

Optimised packaging will make your DC (Distribution Center) overall more efficient and reduce time and cost spent on repacking and storage utilisation – DC Operations Happy!

Optimised packaging will increase number of units in a carton and reduce the cost for both ocean and air freight – Supply Chain team Happy!

Optimised packaging will reduce time for pack out at the supplier and the need to source replacement cartons for repack at the DC – Procurement Happy!

Optimised packaging will better protect your product in the retail packaging – Marketing Happy! (marketing is also very happy about the fact that they now can influence the structural design of the packaging)

If you then wrap it up by compiling this is into a business case that shows the true $ value of the improvements for each department and bottom line savings, you have the smoking gun you need to get management sign off. – Management Happy!

Since I’m writing this piece nobody can argue with me which allows me to banter a bit, but really, it is that simple when you’ve done it hundreds of times!

On top of all of this there is also a misconception that you cannot control packaging when you source products from a supplier outside your own factories. This is because you order your products and you get it shipped in the same or a similar packaging that the supplier uses for all the brands they supply. This leads you to believe that in the best of worlds, you can only ask for specific measurements and print. In truth, you can do so much more.

I’m impressed and it makes me feel good that you’ve taking the time to read all the way to the bottom because it means that you are interested in learning and that awareness is gradually growing. We can change Management’s view and with an increased understanding of the true impact of inbound packaging we can both reduce cost and make a real difference for the environment, globally and locally.

Folke Najjar

International Sales Manager

Solna, Sweden

+46705181530 Folke.najjar@billerudkorsnas.com

Folke Najjar has spent the past 18 years in the packaging industry teaming up with local and global brands to create tailored made packaging solutions. His key competence is to push out cost throughout the supply chain by optimizing packaging for handling, transportation, last mile and increasing availability in automated DCs.

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