Try not to suck – how packaging procurement is like being a Cubs fan

I’m a huge baseball fan. I also grew up in Chicago, and for a kid who loves baseball, growing up in Chicago means you need to make a choice. Do you follow the Sox, or do you follow the Cubs?

I chose the Cubs. 

It wasn’t an easy choice. I spent a painful 30 years watching my favorite team stink up the place. And let me tell you how bad it was: the last time the Cubs won the World Series was in 1908. Maybe they weren’t the worst team in baseball, but they were in the top three.

That was until 2016, when all of a sudden, the Cubs got good. And all the years of waiting and suffering and disappointment paid off when they took the World Series.

For me, what changed the Cubs was Joe Maddon. Sure, he was a bit of a goof, but he turned the team around. He did it by sticking to two things:

  1.  do simple better
  2.  try not to suck

It might not seem like much, but for this Cubs fan it was gospel. And as someone who has spent his entire career in packaging, it was wisdom I could relate to.

We all know it – packaging procurement sucks

Sorry to be blunt, but if you’re in packaging, you know it’s true. Packaging procurement today is like the Cubs in 2006. They went 66–96 and finished at the absolute bottom of the league. Even worse, the Sox took the Series in 2005, so it was a hard year to be a Cubs fan.

There are a lot of explanations about why the Cubs sucked so bad in 2006, and Sox fans will be happy to share all of them with you if you ask. But packaging procurement sucks for two big reasons – broken processes and bad communications.

Take artwork and specs for example. Specs are often not complete, if they even exist at all. Artwork is always changing, and approvals don’t always keep up with the changes. To put it nicely, the situation is barely-controlled chaos. To put it not so nicely, it’s an expensive mess. Production gets delayed and nobody gets alerted until it’s too late and it’s a mad scramble to get things back on track before deadlines get missed.

Everyone in packaging knows it sucks, and everyone knows it’s hard to fix the problem. It’s almost impossible to improve the supply when everybody is putting out fires all day. 

But it’s possible to fix process and communications problems and build a packaging supply chain that works. To do it, SourceHUB took Joe’s advice and looked at ways to make things simpler and do them better.

Do simple better

Although they may seem different, process and communications are two sides of the same coin. They both rely on three key factors: good data, clear accountability and easy collaboration. SourceHUB is built around these factors to streamline packaging procurement workflows. It centralizes specs, artwork and other mission critical data, automates and tracks approvals and provides a collaborative space for all stakeholders to effectively communicate. In short, SourceHUB does simple better to make packaging procurement easier.

Packaging procurement will never be easy, but nothing good is ever easy. Just ask any Cubs fan. And, if anything can be learned from the Cubs,  it’s that focusing on doing simple better can lead to years of success after a century of pain.