When it comes to managing regulatory documents like product
labels, bills of lading and certificates of analysis, virtually all adhesive
and sealant manufacturers face the same challenge: getting the right
information into the right document format for every shipment. This challenge
becomes more complicated when you ship to customers with unique labeling and
But why is regulatory-document management such a challenge, and how can you
take that challenge and make it an opportunity?
integrated ERP system automatically populates the proper document template,
such as a bill of lading, with the proper data so the system does the data work
- not your employees.
You Can't Blame One Person for All Your Mistakes
The challenges of regulatory-document management are
typically rooted in the type of technology used to run your business. Many
adhesive and sealant manufacturers start out using multiple software tools,
like spreadsheets and basic accounting systems. As business grows, more systems
are added - a new lab management system, an inventory management system, etc. A
separate system for regulatory reporting and labeling is often added to the mix
For most companies, that regulatory reporting “system” is nothing more than a
series of word processing documents. That means you have to rely on someone
within your company - we’ll call her Cindy - to manage this manual process.
With your data scattered across multiple systems, Cindy has to search several
locations for the formula, batch and quality control (QC) information for each
shipment. Then, because different customers may have different document
specifications for the same products, she has to cross-reference the data with
her customer files. Finally, she has to select the proper document format and
accurately enter the information.
Beyond the obvious bottleneck, there is also potential for human error every
time Cindy works on a new shipment. She may choose the wrong form, make a
formatting mistake or enter incorrect QC/formulation values from time to time,
which you will likely pass on to your customers. What’s more, returned
shipments will inevitably re-enter your bottleneck, where similar mistakes can
happen again. In this scenario, it won’t take long for your customers to start
looking to your competitors for a more dependable supplier.
So the question remains: How can you ensure that your regulatory documentation
always has the right data in the right formats?
The trick is to integrate all of your business processes - formulation, sales,
purchasing, inventory, production, QC/QA, lot tracking, accounting and
regulatory reporting - into one software system. Integrated Enterprise Resource
Planning (ERP) software provides one location to manage all of your data,
meaning there’s no need to re-enter information. In other words, ERP software
provides greater control over your processes because it relieves you of your
reliance on Cindy.
Fully integrated ERP software provides the process controls
necessary to prevent data entry errors by halting users during the QC process
if a value falls outside a pre-defined reporting range. Here, failed tests are
highlighted for easy identification.
Building a Better Business Process
Well-designed ERP software helps you get the right data into
the right document formats by allowing you to configure regulatory document
templates. The term ‘configure’ means you can adapt the system to your business
without altering the basic programming code. Benefits of configurable templates
include cost efficiency, quick installation and long-term ease of maintenance.
Modern ERP systems can even use the familiar functions of Microsoft Word to
lessen the learning curve of document configuration. Using the data from your
ERP system through the Word application, you can insert and arrange data
fields, logos and other characters according to your own specifications to
configure a document template for each regulatory form you use. This list could
include product labels, COAs, MSDSs, packing lists, bills of lading, etc. In
addition, depending on the complexity of your regulatory reporting needs, you
could also configure product- and customer-specific templates.
The ability to configure regulatory document templates ultimately simplifies
matters on your shipping dock. When your employees print the regulatory
documentation for a shipment - whether it’s going to Cleveland,
Canada or Kathmandu
- the system would automatically populate the proper template with the proper
Simplifying Cindy's Role
integrated ERP software eliminates redundant data entry, someone still has to
enter QC data into the system as you run tests. This is a major problem when
using multiple systems because it’s very difficult to apply process controls
across several applications. But with one point of data control, you can establish
rules that restrict data entry.
For example, QC reporting ranges can be set. If you set the reporting range for
the pH of a product at 8.6-9.2, and 88 is entered instead of 8.8, the system
would automatically stop the process. The user would be prompted to fix the
mistake before moving on. If this data were entered into a side system, the
user might not be able to catch the error. Process controls like QC reporting
ranges are the only way to ensure accurate data.
A Science, Not a Science Project
Whether you make one product for one customer or 1,000
products for 1,000 customers, regulatory reporting is an important part of your
business. It gets your products where they’re going, keeps you in good standing
with regulatory agencies and provides your customers with the data they need to
run their operations effectively. By using ERP software that integrates
configurable regulatory document templates with all your business processes in
one system, you can turn the challenge of regulatory reporting into an
opportunity to establish your company as a reliable supplier.
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.deacom.net.