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An Update on the Product Engineering Initiative

Matt Shanahan

IWCO Direct has always been on the cutting edge of direct marketing technology. However, with all our technological initiatives, we have one goal in mind: making the process of developing a custom direct marketing campaign easier for our customers while delivering amazing results. This year, we’ve created an ambitious new Operations initiative that will make developing campaigns with our customers a smoother and more effective process. At IWCO Direct, we believe it’s not only about working faster, it’s also about working smarter.

As you may recall from our previous Product Engineering Initiative blog, we piloted the concept of the Product Design Editor (PDE) over a broad group of departments to validate our concept. In addition to that pilot, we have involved numerous departments within operations regarding standards and capabilities, engaged IT with development and sales on overall concept of the Product Design Solution (PDS). In other words, this is not a DIY initiative; it’s a company-wide effort.

Since our announcement post in January, we have partnered with our IT organization to complete an in-depth review of the development approach and options for moving forward with the enterprise-wide PDS. Concurrently we have been exploring the expanded use of the PDE into the production of raw components such as envelopes as well as reviewing the standards and product classifications within IWCO Direct.

The Risks of “Optional” Design Elements

One of the frequent questions that we get asked is how and why “optional” design elements become “required.” Requirements for design elements are based on all of the components in the package and their interdependent relations and production requirements. These requirements are put in place based on standards and best practices to reduce the risk of quality errors such as mismatched components, cutting and trimming errors, and failure to meet postal requirements like address clear zones to name a few.

Much like insurance, some things are optional and some things are required depending on your circumstances. Flood insurance is a good example of this. And just like insurance, the design elements considered as part of the Product Engineering Initiative exist to reduce your risk and cost.

For example, if you have a personalized letter with a second generic insert in a windowed envelope, then there are no matching 2D barcode requirements. If the envelope is changed to eliminate the window, then a 2D barcode is required on the personalized letter. And if the generic insert is changed to a personalized insert to match the letter, then 2D matching barcodes are required for both inserts. Going outside these requirements can bring restricted design options, high production costs and/or a high risk of quality issues.

Some of the most visible outcomes of the Product Engineering Initiative so far are the updated design specification documents posted on our corporate intranet site. They provide clear definitions and standards that have improved the roll out of our new equipment and capabilities.

Your account team will use these documents to ensure that all required design elements are in place for your mailing campaign. Our industry uses a LOT of specific terms, and that overload can cause confusion between the agency and its clients. Clear definitions and standards improve the design process for all involved.

What the Product Engineering Initiative Offers Clients

We plan to complete our in-depth review of the development approach and options for the PDS with our IT organization in the next month. At that time our Project Management Office (PMO) team will outline the project timeline and plan for moving forward with the PDS. We will continue to expand and enhance our design specification documents to cover all products and capabilities as part of this initiative. Clients will see more consistent use of standard terminology, design standards and related design template formats.

And if you’re having trouble keeping all of these acronyms straight, I’m sorry to tell you that a few more are sure to enter the PDS lexicon as the initiative moves forward.

link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2016/04/06/product-engineering-initiative-update/
Matt Shanahan

Author

Matt Shanahan

Manager, Product Research & Development Engineering and graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Bringing the philosophy of “anything is possible with the right planning and resources” to IWCO Direct for over a decade. A sports and outdoor enthusiast, two of his greatest passions are the Metropolis Rugby Club and hiking with his family.

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