Alex Smith, MES Business Consultant at Cimlogic, discusses the key takeaways from the ensuring Digital Transformation success blog series.
Hopefully, you might have stumbled across my series of blogs, Ensuring Success (if not, you can download the complete 5-step guide below). I must admit it wasn’t entirely without an ulterior motive. It was meant to get you thinking, to start a conversation.
How will you ensure that your digital manufacturing project is a success?
Whether it be digitalisation, smart factory, IoT, or Industry 4.0 – they’re all the same thing. I know some will definitely challenge that statement but for me, they are all names for improving operations through data. It’s not new but it’s certainly gaining pace, people want ‘one’ and therein lies the problem, what is ‘one’? Is it an OEE solution? Is it an MES platform? Electronic quality records? Advanced analytics?
And herein lies the problem, while people have been shown that digital solutions can provide operational benefits, all too often focus is placed on the technology, not the benefit. You’ve got two worlds colliding, OT & IT, and these don’t tend to play well together. You have a software application, owned by IT, that is being used by operations. Who should have the final say on what and how it’s used?
Digital technologies use the data you already have to give you a better insight into your operations, and with this insight, you can make better decisions, reduce strain on resources, increase your throughput, unlock capacity, and so on and so on. But all this is irrelevant, take a step back, what is your current biggest business challenge? What is stopping you from hitting your goals?
R – Recognise
It is critical to recognise what the ‘need’ is for a digital solution. Uncover what business challenges are causing you the greatest headaches. This is absolutely essential to any digital project, you must know what business benefit will be delivered and what value or cost-saving will be achieved. This will need input from across the business and a methodical approach to prioritise what order you address challenges in. You also need to understand how your business will change.
A – Analyse
This leads us on to the next stage before you’ve even considered a software platform or solution. You need to analyse your business, you need to have a clear understanding of how tasks and processes are done now. Once this is understood, it’s time to look to the future. How will your digital solutions change your business processes? Especially if you’re in a highly regulated industry such as pharma or food & bev, changes need to be in line with compliance. Here you look at the ‘as is’ and ‘to be’, it’s not just your business processes that will change but how your people work.
This is quite possibly the number one point of weakness for major IT projects. Not that people are the weakness, but the management of change often is. When analysing your business have you considered how a new way of working will affect your workers? Have you considered resistance to change? It’s no great secret that change can be one of the hardest situations for people to deal with. Make sure you have this as a priority and make sure those who will have their roles impacted by the change are involved from the very beginning!
With recognition of the need and analysis of your business challenges/goals and an idea of how you can move forward, you are now in a position to progress. You can prioritise which challenge to address first by looking at the ROI & IRR, or whichever metric drives CAPEX spend. With this information, you can now build your business and justification that will make adopting digital technologies a ‘no brainer’ whilst ensuring the project continues to focus on these elements and not the tech, which will ensure success.
I – Implement
With your business case built and approval from the board, it’s time to find your digital transformation partner and implement it. This should be a company that understands not just the tech but your business, with experience in solving the issues you have. Ideally, with experience specific to your industry as often problems are the same within manufacturing, so look at the solutions they’ve delivered. As your digital transformation is a journey you want a partner for the long haul, not one focused on the money and moving on to the next project once they have delivered the first stage. It’s worth considering your partner’s skill set. Can they just deliver this one solution, or can they go on the journey with you as you dig deeper into advanced data analytics, predictive manufacturing, digital twin and connected supply chain?
S – Support
Any investment in digital technologies will need supporting as this is the new way you’ll do business. Support should be based on the criticality of the system; does it give you better decision-making capabilities or is it integral to your business? It’s also important to ensure that your support partner is working in an industry-standard way, such as ITIL, and for that added peace of mind why not look for ISO20000 certification? In my blog I spoke about proactive support, this is where your support partner actively looks at ways to improve your operations, so you get more from your solution ensuring that business benefits and value are delivered.
E – Excellence
Your digital transformation journey is a continuous improvement journey, and you should strive for excellence. Your solution should evolve with you and your business, as your challenges now will be different in the future and your digital solutions should be with you for 10 or so years. While most companies have a CI function or team, their expertise is around a particular manufacturing process and often not a business function and certainly not experts in digital technologies. Look for a partner that can bring expertise to bridge these gaps – business analysis with a manufacturing background is what you need. Experienced in manufacturing challenges, a keen eye for business processes and knowledge of digital technologies will allow you to continue on your digital transformation journey and continually improve.
Ensuring success with RAISE
Now you’ve got this far, guess you might be wondering what my point is. Well, my point is RAISE – Recognise. Analyse. Implement. Support. Excellence.
Cimlogic has been successfully delivering digital solutions for well over two decades. As we’ve grown rapidly, we knew we were doing things right but maybe we could do better. We’ve looked at our processes and brought them together to build a methodology that is the core of our business and at the centre of everything we do daily. RAISE is a collection of ideas, processes and best practices that build a structured approach to digital technologies from a business perspective; aligning the business and the technology to build a solution and deliver value.
I’ve been with Cimlogic for a little over 6 months and RAISE is why I joined. I’ve spoken to clients about IoT, diagnostics and industry 4.0 for the last decade and came to the same conclusion, they’re buzz words that don’t mean anything to their business. All are different to different people and it’s about understanding a client’s business that allows them to understand how digital technologies will benefit their business.
I’m not interested in talking about our MES solutions, brilliant as they are and they will deliver value, I want to talk about what challenges you’re facing today. What problems are holding you back from achieving your production targets? What problems do manual quality checks and records cause you?
Utilising RAISE, together let’s understand what your challenges are and then we can look at how Cimlogic can help solve them.
Intrigued? Want to learn a little bit more? Download the 5-step guide to ensuring Digital Transformation success here.