Organizations and Their People have Consistently Struggled to Understand and Adopt Technology (4 of 6)
Hence it is difficult to use it as a competitive weapon to gain market share.
Allow me to start with a personal business story. I’ve hired a digital marketing and communications agency, which brings our company expertise and skills that we could not develop on our own. Even more, the multiple digital and creative skills necessary to do what the agency’s team of specialists do, would be difficult, if not impossible, for us to replicate. Worse, if we tried to do digital marketing effectively ourselves, the task would distract us from our strategic priority of producing more efficient operational and financial performance for our customers. Of course, we do use advanced technology in our work with customers—that’s the technology we know and which can add economic value to our customers.
Workflow Pain Points or Burning Platforms: Is This Your Company?
Scheduling is done via Excel.
Procurement is handled via ERP (with a transactional focus).
Scheduling and Procurement do not seamlessly communicate.
Neither do Sales and Production.
Customer Service doesn’t have timely information.
Quoted delivery dates are sometimes (or often?) a guess.
Always fighting fires when disruptions occur.
Expediting and overtime costs eat up profits.
Margins are not nearly close enough to industry averages.
The old guard is retiring and systems and technology are not in place to fill the experience gap.
Hire Experts Who Can Optimize Manufacturing Flow
OGet smart people who know the technology to help—that’s a model I want you to consider when you look at your complex manufacturing or multi-project environment. Here’s why: the technology and software related to the spectrum of production data is moving faster than any single person can learn and execute. What data am I talking about—data related to:
Planning the work
Scheduling the work
Executing the work on the shop floor
What are the end-results sought from these data:
Better asset utilization
Reduced inventory and OpEx
Near-perfect On-Time Delivery
Buy or Build? BUY!
The attitude we see among some manufacturers, especially small and mid-sized companies is: “We're doing something wrong or we wouldn't need those consultants. We can do everything on our own. We just have to find the right people.”
That's no longer true. Period.
For the sake of argument, let’s play out an unlikely scenario. If you are extremely lucky, you may have or find that rare individual who is IT knowledgeable, a planner, and a scheduler; or, a person close to the shop who can work magic and pull the information that the shop floor needs from, let’s say, your ERP system. No matter how smart the person is, you have to groom this individual and wait for the learning curve to hit its peak. This is not a long-term solution because such a high-value employee might head out the door at any time seeking the next opportunity. Or, he or she may be out sick on a day when all hell is breaking loose on a key custom order.
The best step owners and leading executives can take from a hiring standpoint is to find (internally or externally) and retain personable, smart and conscientious people who will identify long-term consulting partnerships that offer the best technology and thoughtware. (We’re raising our hand.)
The smartest mid-sized manufacturing companies understand that the world is moving too quickly for them to develop planning software and “thoughtware” specialists inside of their company. (I think a lot of larger companies understand this constraint or fact, and that's why the Gartners, McKinseys, and others exist.) Although we are not a Gartner, we are certainly the source of expertise for everything related to demand management, to execution, including planning and scheduling for complex manufacturing companies.
Do Not Fear the Dreaded “C” word: Consultants
If you don’t consider hiring a consultant, you risk another “C” word; you’ve created a constraint which can work against your success and profitability.
Hire manufacturing planning and technology experts who offer methods, concepts, tools and integration services that will help you achieve the end-results listed above. It’s extremely rare in small to medium-sized manufacturing companies to find an individual or a group, who know as much as our company does collectively in this market—a straight forward pitch on our part. We believe this assertion is true, not only for the functions of planning and scheduling, but also for technology and software related to networking, to connectivity, and to security.
We urge you to find a partner that offers the broadest knowledge and who stays up on current and future trends, which we do. If it’s our company, we have proven we can bring opportunities to take advantage of technology and advice to leap ahead of your competition.
ERP Is Not Enough
“Our ERP system cost us a bunch in dollars and time invested, yet still we struggle in meeting timelines and deadlines.”
That’s a complaint (or some variation) that I hear a lot from COOs, CIOs and other operational and financial executives.
ERP systems offer many benefits for sure, but they do not offer the information needed to plan and schedule workflow. It doesn’t offer visibility into production variables, nor can it project “what if…?” scenarios that are useful immediately or projected into the future, nor does it offer the impact analysis of changes due to variability.
Comparison of ERP Systems and Advanced Planning & Scheduling (APS)
An Unembarrassed Ask
If your planning, scheduling, and performance issues reflect the “pain points” (or worse, “burning platforms”) listed earlier, contact Scott McMartin.