07 Jan Sure-fire solutions for manufacturers tackling digital transformation challenges
by Tom Lovell
Focusing on customer experience leads to economic gains of 20–50 percent for businesses. In fact, the more mature organizations are 26 percent more profitable than those without a mature digital strategy. Clearly, making a business’ operations customer-centric can yield great rewards for manufacturers—at least, the manufacturers that do it right and solve existing problems through the transformation.
Previously, we took a deep dive into analyzing the typical problems plaguing manufacturers on the road to digital transformation. While these obstacles can seem daunting, there are always solutions to common problems. Transformation is just around the corner for most manufacturers, especially if you prepare yourself with a strategic partner equipped with both the technical and functional experience. It’s also crucial to have help from a partner who’s experienced both in and out of the manufacturing field, so you know you’re backing up your project with the latest expertise.
To get you started though, I’m providing a specific solution and expert recommendation for each of those three problems: technical debt, data readiness, and organizational alignment. Let’s take a look.
How to overcome technical debt
You know your ERP system is not enough, and you’re facing the red ink from it. A product-focused solution like ERP is simply not going to scale with mature businesses focusing more and more on the customer. So you start your search for new solutions and, not five minutes in, you’re already dizzy with options.
The landscape of technology to invest (or de-invest) in can get overwhelming fast. With Simplus’ Advisory team of industry veterans and decades of hands-on technology experience in the manufacturing field, however, you can get a grip on what technology is really necessary for your organization’s business objectives.
Additionally, make sure your organization is prepared to utilize the latest integration tools to connect all the platforms making up your entire digital landscape. Whether it’s current ETL tools or new choices like MuleSoft, you want experts on your side ready to connect the dots and create a seamless technical experience.
How to attain true data readiness
Every organization—in any industry, including manufacturing—believes their data is “bad.” Truth is, there is no bad data. Just data not fit for its intended use.
At Simplus, we believe that by not only utilizing the right tools to cleanse your data but also instituting scalable data governance in your organization, you can ensure data is organized and always fit for its purpose. Hierarchies in a system like Salesforce are never going to perfectly match those in your ERP or FP&A system. But with the proper tools and governance, you can ensure data transfers properly between systems in a timely matter and stays fit for use.
It’s also important to make sure individuals in your organization are supporting a data readiness strategy by eliminating the dependency on spreadsheets as single sources of truth. This inevitably leads to multiple single sources of truth, multiple “truths,” and organizational confusion about the integrity of data. With a proper data integration and cleansing tool in place, like MuleSoft, you can alleviate these issues if not eliminate them entirely.
How to align and prepare your organization for change
Finally, the big scary monster of digital transformation challenges: alignment. Organizational alignment has always been the toughest hurdle to overcome, and it’s no different in manufacturing companies. We see organizations all the time that may have allocated the budget to drive digital transformation only to find themselves shelving the solutions within a few short months because of other priorities or political unrest internally. You can always tell if your organization is in danger of misalignment when you start to see teams “controlling” their own processes, team members, and technologies—that’s a guaranteed sign of internal mistrust of company-wide initiatives.
To fix this, again, Simplus Advisory Services come to the rescue. Our change management consultants are experts in their field, trained to help you through every step of tackling change resistance once and for all by enabling change agents within your own organization, whether it’s needed top-down or bottom-up.
Additionally, you’ll need a strategy in place to address the varying levels, knowledge bases, skill sets, and technical aptitudes within your organization. Whether it’s gaining the adoption of your older generation of workforce, reluctant to accept change, or giving your newest, youngest hires the training and experience they expect, you have to have an ongoing strategy for it all. Identify champions in each department to mentor and ease the transition for both old and young facing changes.
Finally, if you do have worries about resources moving on or just don’t have the resources internally to support your new CRM investments, Simplus Managed Services is there to make sure there are dedicated resources to support you.
Solutions for these current pain points are only the beginning. For a complete transformation, you can’t sit still. Make sure your manufacturing organization is looking forward to industry forecasts and staying nimble enough to adjust for the future. I look forward to sharing my own thoughts on the future of digital transformation in manufacturing in the next installment in this series. Stay tuned!
Tom is Industry Lead here at Simplus. For over 15 years, Tom has helped companies implement data and process-driven strategies to bridge the gap between business and IT. These strategies have improved patient outcomes, reduced financial risk, and improved operational efficiency in healthcare organizations while bringing to bear streamlined costs, reduced risk, and improved revenue at manufacturers. His passion is architecting and sharing practical solutions that deliver valuable results for customers.