Use benchmark information to assess, prioritize, and plan

If you haven’t read the Packaging World report on a survey measuring the capabilities of today’s packaging departments, please do so (

The survey was inspired by the combined service offerings of PTIS and HAVI Global Solutions. Several of our clients felt that this data would be appreciated and help them to benchmark their own organization’s areas of importance as well as strengths and developmental opportunities.

The survey delivers both good news and bad. The good news, as author Jim Peters makes clear, is that the companies that make packaged goods now regard packaging as an important part of their business. Yet none of the functions that make up the thing we call packaging are as strong as managers think they should be. So what are you doing about it?

It’s time to prioritize: Most of our friends and colleagues across the value chain have more work to do than they can handle, and they have little time to even think about training, education, or professional development. However, few of the organizations do a good job of prioritizing work and needs critical to the business. This survey points out a high level of importance across skills and needs, with gaps in strength relative to the importance in every area.

So here’s a suggested approach and tool for you and your organization:

Brand owners/CPGs

• Rate the importance of each of these capabilities and skills to your business
• Rate your current strength
• Where are your ratings versus industry benchmarks?
• Considering what the survey respondents said, are there areas where you might reconsider your own importance ratings?
• Where are your largest gaps for the top 3-5 most important capabilities and skills? (only go after the big ones—you can’t do it all!)
• Based on your gap assessment, develop a plan and roadmap to address and fill the gaps

• Consider how you can leverage external resources, including suppliers, universities, research organizations, government organizations, NGOs, trade associations, consultants, and providers of education and training services. And don’t forget that Packaging World is a powerful resource, too. If optimizing operations is your responsibility, consider the Packaging Automation Forum; and if you’re in Pharma, be sure to look into the Healthcare Packaging Conference and Workshops.

 • Identify best-in-class experts and bring them in to accelerate your expertise
 • Carefully evaluate non-competitive or precompetitive partners and collaborators
 • Recognize internal training opportunities when they present themselves and maximize their potential
 • Hire expertise and experience
 • Influence universities and other organizations to increase emphasis in your areas of need
 • Update outdated training programs to focus on what is most important and relevant

Suppliers to brand owners/CPGs

• Note that this research only included CPGs/Brand Owners
• Review the results and identify areas where you can help them
• Interview your customers and prospective customers to determine where their biggest areas of importance and need are—help them fill the gaps
• Apply the Capabilities Self Assessment tool to your company

Based on your gap assessment, develop a plan and roadmap to address and fill the gaps (see above)

• Invite your customers to partner in addressing common gaps and needs

Packagers and packaging professionals have an increasing role in answering corporate objectives. That’s good news as the profession gains the recognition it needs. But it also provides the challenge of expanding our professional competence to further embrace marketing, innovation, and strategic directions.

So let’s assess, prioritize, plan, and collaborate to take our organizations, the industry, and our profession to new, higher heights!

About the author: Brian Wagner is vice president of Packaging & Technology Integrated Solutions.
He can be reached at (

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