The dichotomy between successful and struggling organizations is becoming more pronounced as the technological landscape changes. Over the last 20 years I’ve been in the consulting industry, I’ve been both directly and indirectly involved with thousands of companies and executives that have given me a unique insight as to why some organizations are better equipped to succeed than others. While it would be nice if everyone benefited comparably from new enterprise technologies and opportunities, unfortunately, the benefits of new technology are not evenly distributed.

Throughout the manufacturing industry, these challenges are particularly apparent. A majority of our clients have historically been in one of several different manufacturing-related industries such as: aerospace and defense, industrial manufacturing, chemicals, food and beverage and consumer products. Regardless of a company’s sub-vertical, each and every one faces very similar challenges and opportunities.

Based on my experience and observations, below are five things that I’ve found successful manufacturers to be more equipped to handle than their less successful counterparts:

  1. More flexibility. Whether you work for a business-to-business operation or a direct-to-consumer outfit, flexibility is the name of the game today and in the future. Real humans – the same ones who experience flexibility in their consumer purchasing processes –expect a minimum level of flexibility in their B2B purchases as well. Manufacturers selling directly to consumers must be even more flexible in their manufacturing processes in order to accommodate the expectation of flexibility among those buyers.
  1. Better integration of data. For years, ERP systems and other enterprise software have succeeded at collecting and gathering data. However, few manufacturers have been able to make a sense of these masses of data. The more successful manufacturers, on the other hand, are figuring out how to turn data into information that can be acted upon. This requires well-defined, repeatable and scalable business processes. For example, demand forecasting and advanced planning processes are much more effective when they effectively integrate inventory and sales information.
  1. Leveraging the “internet of things.” The internet of things is a buzzword – both in manufacturing and in other industries – but not many manufacturers are leveraging this reality. To summarize, the internet of things allows manufacturers to leverage data from multiple sources and devices. Successful manufacturers must determine how to best leverage the proliferation of data sources throughout their supply chains. Many have historically understood how to integrate manufacturing execution systems into their ERP software and processes, but now they must figure out how to best leverage data from tablets, scanners and other micro-devices into their business processes.
  1. More clearly defined business processes. Business process reengineering and documentation is an important prerequisite for a successful ERP implementation or manufacturing operation. This is why prosperous manufacturers invest time in this important process while the less successful ones fumble their way through trying – but ultimately failing – to leverage new technologies in a meaningful way.
  1. Better use of organizational change management. New business processes means lots of change for employees. Because most people avoid change, it is important to leverage organizational change management strategies, tools and tactics that translate new systems and processes into operational reality. Without doing so, the vision of new business processes and systems will never become reality. Consider organizational change management as the tool enabling the rubber to meet the road.

Learn more by downloading our white paper, Organizational Change Management in the Manufacturing Industry.

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