Timeline for New Projects


To establish a timeline to launch a product on time.   Defining critical milestones to ensure accurate project flow.


  1. Buyers/Associate Buyers – Creates timeline and communicates it to internal team members and vendors
  2. Vendor – Agrees to timeline
  3. Innovation & Quality (IQ) Team Leader – Signs off on timeline
  4. Packaging & Compliance Team Leader – Signs off on timeline
  5. Data Specialist/Analyst for Supplier Quality Assurance (SQA) – Signs off on timeline



Project timelines are subject to change and you should consult the appropriate team leader if you encounter extenuating circumstances that cause a delay in the project timeline.



Project timelines are stored and tracked in the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system.


4.1 Award Business / Project Kick Off

4.1.1 Business has been awarded, project has been created, all documents have been uploaded to the PLM system, facility has been approved and product formulations are finalized. Testing has been approved by WFM Legal and by Testing Specification Analyst (Whole Body Only).


4.2 Product Compliance Specification Review / Release to Design (3 weeks)

4.2.1 Product compliance specification undergoes review by IQ Team to verify accuracy, completion and adherence to WFM quality standards and applicable government regulations. Vendor answers questions regarding compliance specification, including the finalization of all label-sensitive information and then the products are released to the Packaging & Compliance Team.

4.2.2 IQ Team has 3 weeks from “Project Kick-off” to complete the “Release to Design” milestone.


4.3 Packaging Design & Label Approval / Release to Print and Final Art (6 weeks)

4.3.1 Packaging & Compliance team creates packaging graphics and, after reviewing internally sends artwork to vendor for label approval.  Vendor ensures accuracy of all label information and confirms compatibility of artwork with printer.  Vendor must approve and sign off on artwork. It will take at least 4 weeks to shoot photography – this can typically be worked in to the total 6 weeks for Package Design and Label approval but Team will advise if additional time is needed due to photography scheduling.

4.3.2 Once artwork is signed off on, final design files are electronically sent to vendor/printer.  Then a hard copy color proof is created by the printer.  The Packaging & Compliance Team must sign off on color proof before the vendor is allowed to print packaging.

4.3.3 Packaging & Compliance Team has 6 weeks from “Release to Design” to complete the “Final Art” milestone.


4.4 Printing Packaging (varies)

4.4.1 Packaging print time can take 2-10 weeks depending on the type of packaging and where the packaging is being printed.  The timeline must account for the time it takes to get the printed packaging to the production facility.

4.4.2 Different packaging types have different print lead times. Labels 2-4 weeks, Paperboard (cereal boxes, pizza boxes, etc.) 4-6 weeks, Tetra 6-9 weeks, Tubs 4-6 weeks, Cans 6-8 weeks


4.5 First Production / Release to Ship (2 weeks)

4.5.1 First production can take up to 2 weeks or more, depending on what first production testing is required.  All product must remain on hold until the vendor has completed all first production requirements.

4.5.2 It can take 5-10 business days to receive testing results.  This varies depending on the type of testing that’s required.

4.5.3 First production samples are reviewed and evaluated by the IQ Team within 24 hours.


4.6 Ship Date (varies)

4.6.1 Shipping to the Distribution Centers (DC’s)  can take 1 week to 4 months. A vendor’s lead time is the longest time it will take to get product from the production facility to the DC. Most imported products have a 3 month lead time.


4.7 Launch Date / In DC Date

4.7.1 This is the date the product is in the DC and ready to be distributed to stores.

4.7.2 Non-perishable products should arrive in all DCs by the 1st of the month prior to the category reset. For example, for a June reset, product should be in all DCs by 5/1.

4.7.3 Perishable products should arrive in all DCs by the last week of the month prior to the category reset. For example, for a June reset, product should be in all DCs the last week of May.

4.7.4 Products that ship through a consolidator must be ready to ship by the 1st of the month two months prior to the category reset. For example, for a June reset, product should be in the consolidator by 4/1.


Example of PLM Timeline Schedule:





Approval Date

Executive Coordinator

Exclusive Brands


Team Leader

Packaging & Compliance


Team Leader

Supplier Quality Assurance


Team Leader

Innovation & Quality


Team Leader Data Management