Posted by Michelle Duerst on Mar 6, 2014


For most companies, it is the corporate version of the childhood game, “Telephone.”   The game can be fun to play as a kid as you sit around in a circle and whisper a phrase into your neighbor’s ear, until it reaches the end of the circle with a completely scrambled message.

It is not nearly so delightful when you have emails and phone calls circling around departments with the same result—inaccurate data and a total gap in communication.

How do you cut the string on “Telephone” and modernize practices for a global New Product Development Introduction (NDPI) project?


1.      Centralized Database

A major Food and Beverage manufacturer saw a serious issue with their communication and visibility on a new beverage product line. Very much like the Telephone game, each person had their own version of the truth.  No one person communicated successfully with another because they were each functioning on the limited data that they had. They could not see what the other team members had done.  Worse yet, they had no visibility to standardized processes that would create consistency across the new product line.

Create a single version of the truth that can be easily, but securely accessed.

  • Web-based: Easy access from any location, instead of limiting access to a specific location/server
  • Security: Define granular levels of security to protect confidential information
  • Real-time updates:  Instantly view the latest updates


2.      Safe Data Integration

The single version of the truth must extend past a centralized database to integrate the moving parts of your NPDI, including data from legacy systems and vendors.

Define processes, create integrations, and synchronize systems.

  • ERP: Integrate resources and material data such as material attributes, costs, etc.
  • Legacy: Review and approve updates from internal legacy systems such as Supply Chain, Graphic Design, CAD, etc.
  • Vendor: Review and approve vendor updates that include delivery schedules, costs, specifications, allergens, certifications, etc.


3.      Document Management

As many philosophers have stated, the one constant is change.  That may be an interesting theoretical concept, but the reality can prove to be infinitely frustrating.  You must have a defined process for not only managing changes, but documenting the changes and tracking each version.

Key Elements of Document Management

  • Configurable Reports:  Create reports that contain actionable information in an easily understood format, providing summaries and detailed data as needed.
  • Distribution Log: Create distribution lists for project documents, with the ability to track who received and opened the document.
  • Archived Portfolio:  Organize and archive documents in product portfolios.
  • Knowledge Base:  Index documents for faster search and retrieval
  • Version Control:  Track and archive multiple versions of a single document. 
  • Traceability: View who changed, added, deleted, and approved documents.

Learn more about managing changes in our Specifications 101 blog.


Specifications 101 Blog  


4.      Automatic Workflows

The first 3 steps provide the critical foundation for improving communication.  Essentially, they establish a universal language of truth.  The last step specifically addresses how to communicate the truth to the right people with the greatest efficiency and accuracy.

Companies can define event-driven notifications that will automate processes once a specific event has occurred.

Instead of waiting for phone calls and weeding through emails, team members can be instantly notified. 

Examples of Event-Driven Notifications

  • New product idea submission
  • New product requirements defined
  • Formula Validation
  • Regulatory Compliance Analysis results
  • Specification approval
  • Labeling approval
  • Task review and approval
  • Document receipt

Topics: PLM