Inventory and assess existing labels
The first step in a best-practices enterprise labeling deployment is to find and inventory all your label files. A team or individual should catalog network contents, ask current and former label users to search their hard drives, browse company intranets, and search for attachments in Outlook or other email clients. Don’t be surprised by the number of labels and the diversity of their locations.
Once you have collected all the labels, you should assess what kinds of data they contain, the sizes of the labels, and if any special label media are required. Look for redundancies that can be reduced by creating one document or template for similar labels and then applying business rules and process controls to define the data printed on each label.
Group associated label formats
You can also simplify label management and improve data accuracy by consolidating different but related formats into one label file or template.
Think about this common scenario: You need to create pallet, case, item and shipping labels for a product. If you store these different labels in one label file, you can easily tie all the data fields to the same data sources. When a data source changes, all the labels change. And when it’s time to print, the system only needs to call one file, not four different label files, and conditional printing rules can ensure that the correct number of each label are printed.
Centralize label management
A streamlined and efficient labeling process requires centralized management of label access, editing and printing. When you store your labels in one place where they can be accessed throughout the enterprise — a “single-source-of-label” strategy — you can make changes to the central data source and automatically cascade them throughout the entire organization immediately.
Centralized control also enables a complete audit trail by defining user roles and allowing only designated users to “check out” and “check in” labels, alter designs, edit data, or print labels. This also reduces the risk of unauthorized label changes. In addition, by including a version management system, you can roll back any unauthorized or errant changes to a previous, correct version.
A centralized system eliminates the proliferation of label formats that occurs when labels are duplicated and shared, and it helps ensure you are always using the right label with the right data.
Engage professional services
Once you have cataloged all your existing labels and decided which can be eliminated, consolidated or grouped, it’s a good time to engage professional services to help build your new labels. Enterprises understand their business needs, but most lack the necessary skills to build label formats and templates using best practices. Bringing in experts to design and deploy the new labels saves time and resources.