Google “software integration” and you’ll find an endless series of articles about software integration – general application integration, integration of cloud apps, ERP integration, or some combination of each. Why does integration seem to be such a hot topic? Largely because we have more tools and apps at our disposal than ever before. Today, if there’s a function your business does or needs to do, there’s a good chance someone has an app or a cloud-based service ready to help you out.
But with such a loud din of competing voices from service providers, it’s easy for business leaders to feel overwhelmed, especially when they consider how to integrate and share data between all of the tools at their disposal. These leaders may believe integration is risky, expensive, and unreliable, or they may recall scary articles about non-cloud integration traumas such as PC World’s 10 Biggest ERP Software Failures.
The truth: this belief system, these fears – they’re unfounded. Not only has the number of software tools and apps available grown, but so too has the number and sophistication of integration technology platforms (hence the multi-page google search results). There’s simply no need to let “integration fear” cause anyone to sit on the sidelines and fail to take advantage of some great productivity and profitability enhancing systems. Today, businesses can easily connect multiple software tools and apps instantly – and without any heavy lifting.
How Label and Artwork Management Software Integration Started
In the early 2000s, when Label and Artwork Management solutions were becoming more commonplace in the market, they were typically siloed from the rest of a company’s ecosystem. In some cases, this segregation occurred because an external agency was creating and managing the artwork, and in other cases, this segregation occurred because artwork departments typically used macs, which differed from the rest of the organization’s PC infrastructure and placed the artwork department on its own island, so to speak.
Around 2005, however, IT organizations began to review their entire portfolio of systems to identify opportunities to consolidate. Many companies sought an “uber system” capable of performing multiple functions in order to lower the total cost of ownership and decrease the number of systems under management and support. These uber systems usually fell into the ERP and PLM space and were multi-million dollar initiatives. Naturally, organizations wanted to leverage those big investments.
As a sub-process of the product lifecycle, Label and Artwork Management solution functionality was often explored as an opportunity for integration, but the challenge with this model was that ERP and PLM systems by design were engineering and manufacturing focused, with very structured workflows. Label and Artwork Management workflows, on the other hand, required more flexibility and fluidity and were often prone to changes on-the-fly or to “rewinds” back to a specific point in time. In addition, Label and Artwork Management workflows involved input from multiple stakeholders simultaneously, sometimes external to the organization, which wasn’t typical functionality in an ERP or PLM system.
By 2010, we were back to a “best of breed” model for Label and Artwork Management solutions, but now the focus was on bringing the Label and Artwork Management solution off the island and making it part of the corporate ecosystem through integration. Why? Because the ability to track the product lifecycle, including the label and artwork lifecycle, was becoming more important for traceability, and because companies wanted to remove the risk of inaccurate data between systems and eliminate the time spent on duplicate data entry. In fact, many of BLUE’s clients identified that disparate systems slowed organizational growth and reduced organizational efficiency, which impaired their business transformation goals. They were looking for a solution that would:
- Reduce costs
- Eliminate duplication of work
- Increase speed to market
- Improve overall accuracy
Helping this movement was the advancement in technology related to integrations, giving us not only improved tools with which to work, but also greatly improving performance, reliability, and security.
How BLUE Supports Integration Objectives
While every company may have different workflows and systems in place, BLUE has identified some common themes with Label and Artwork Management solution integration, and we have built an implementation strategy around these themes. Our vision is to provide a turnkey solution to our global customers, bridging all product lifecycle-related technologies together. We ensure information is connected, not recreated, by directly and robustly joining the systems of record, and we offer a full set of integration options including adapters, APIs, integration partners, and custom configurations.
The benefits our customers realize through integration include:
- Elimination of duplicate data entry
- Single source of truth for files and data
- End-to-end traceability
- Full visibility into the end-to-end process
- The perks of a “best in breed” solution without a siloed Label and Artwork Management environment
Connecting BLUE to larger operational systems improves the label development process and helps ensure synchronized label content across all forms of product labeling.
Label and Artwork Management Integration: Take the Next Step
Label content and brand identity have become a greater priority for almost all organizations due to a combination of rising customer choice and tightening international compliance structures. Businesses need to connect their label and artwork data to larger operations in order to have a properly unified, single source of truth for all product information. Any breach in integration is becoming costly, and therefore intolerable.
To learn more about how integrating your Label and Artwork Management solution with your ERP or PLM system can drive operational efficiency in your organization, download our white paper: Your Essential Guide to Pharma Labeling Excellence.