Editor's note: This is the tenth post in our "Customer Voice" series where we capture and bring to you the direct voice of our customers to demonstrate their areas of PLM ROI. View the other posts below:
“Where to begin?” asks the Senior Research Scientist in charge of innovation. “There are so many efficiencies that we didn’t even recognize when we first put Devex into place.”
Since this company manages suppliers and manufacturing all over the globe, product development needs accurate information to be quickly accessible. This constant demand for accuracy and consistency drives all other decisions, including formula and cost assessment.
“I can’t imagine not having Devex,” says the Senior Research Scientist. “As a product developer, we’re given a product and told to do something new. We use Devex as a tool to really speed up how we assess a formula.”
Upgrading a century’s worth of processes overnight
“We started with Devex in 2013,” recalls the Senior Research Scientist. “We had nine months to onboard, and in one day we launched new specifications for ingredients, formulas, finished products, packaging, lab procedures, policies, and projects, all in Devex. There were bumps along the road, but in one day, everything changed.”
Prior to this migration, all formulas and specifications were done on different templates, all on spreadsheets, with no standardization across developers. This created a fair amount of chaos.
“There used to be lots of errors,” says the Senior Research Scientist of the old practices. “I remember when we used to write formulas on a spreadsheet, transfer it to a text document, and then mail copies to facilities all over the world. It took weeks to make any progress.”
Entire teams were dedicated to copying, mailing, and typing out formulas. Even when the company upgraded to modern technologies, it still encountered mistakes and inconsistencies.
“In 2002 we launched a company-wide portal, which felt like a big improvement from faxes and snail mail,” comments the Senior Research Scientist. “It still wasn’t perfect. We had problems managing different attributes. Similar items across different sites would be assumed into a formula, and the final product would be different.”
Version control was also difficult. In order to check out previous recipes, team members would need to go through stacks of old documents to figure out what a formula used to be. Worse, new product development was very manual.
The change to Devex was the kind of positive disruption that meant more time dedicated to innovation, not administrative tasks.
“Product development has changed to become so much faster and accurate,” observes the Senior Research Scientist. “We’re talking about action items that went from several weeks to instantaneous.”
Access at your fingertips
Transitioning to Devex meant silos from across the company could be broken down. As a centralized system, Devex immediately improved the consistency and accuracy of formulas as they moved through various stages.
Overnight, several manual processes were completely eliminated.
“The copy function in Devex saves me so much time,” says the Senior Research Scientist. “You can duplicate an existing formula, even if it’s someone else’s, and Devex brings in all the information you’d need to start updating.”
Products and formulas could also be quickly and easily analyzed, giving innovators the ability to assess a line extension without delay.
“Search capabilities in Devex are powerful,” observes the Senior Research Scientist. “We created a nomenclature policy for consistent naming, and now anyone can look for a specific ingredient.”
Being able to narrow down current and experimental items in the company’s portfolio had a major impact on formulation. This included certain regulatory and compliance requirements, such as Kosher, vegan, GMO, and non-GMO claims.
“Every year we need to check where ingredients go in every single product,” says the Senior Research Scientist. “This used to be a multi-person task that took weeks and weeks, but now it’s only a few days in Devex for me to re-calculate every formula our products are used in.”
But one of the most powerful features is the ability to calculate cost with Devex.
“By using Devex at an item or ingredient level, we get up-to-date costs so a developer can determine immediately if we meet cost criteria,” says the Senior Research Scientist. “This makes it easy to re-jigger formulations quickly. We don’t want to move forward if can’t afford the product.”
Some of the favorite things
Having access to a modern solution had a major impact.
“We have a formula and then we can go to benchtop,” boasts the Senior Research Scientist. “I love the Devex wizard, the one-page that just pops up a nutrition facts panel and nutrition statements. It’s so fast.”
When you’re working on new products, you want to be fast. This is especially true for international coverage, where duplicating success in new markets boosts revenues.
“Thanks to Devex, we can copy then update a product to match regulatory requirements in different regions,” says the Senior Research Scientist. “It even updates unit measurements so that we can calculate the cost and move forward.”
All of this translates to good news for innovation.
“Product development needs more information earlier on and we need it faster,” says the Senior Research Scientist. “Everything we need comes in from Devex, which allows us to keep up with these requirements.”