What’s a common denominator behind all of the technology production enhancements noted above? For starters, it’s a thoughtful, long-term vision for how information technology can seamlessly enable and coordinate these tools for maximum production efficiency. This means having the company’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) intimately involved with enterprise-wide strategic planning, since the lack of such participation will hinder proper budgeting and C-suite support for investments in the right skills, staff and technology solutions. Additionally, it’s intended to put the information in the hands of the right people in the most effective manner possible. This includes mobile devices and easier to use systems that are built for the business and not for IT.
As part of the planning process, the CIO should work to empower internal IT business consultants or project managers to conduct a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) scan of existing technology resources for production operations. If this assessment is broadly administered to key stakeholders in production and manufacturing support services (via interviews, focus groups or other information gathering approaches) the feedback will deliver vital insight on how technology can help solve current problems and support new production opportunities.
As IT leaders build this information into a technology plan with measurable success targets, many issues will become readily apparent as top or secondary priorities. For instance, the review may uncover that legacy systems are incompatible with the needs of a more technologically-advanced production operation, which means the company must budget significant dollars for early upgrades of hardware, software and cloud applications. Similarly, a manufacturer with unique or proprietary production operations may need to allocate funds to source and hire specialized IT, engineering or operations talent. And, in cases where it does not make sense to hire full-time expertise for the selection, implementation, training and back-end support of certain production technology investments, it’s wise to allocate funds for third-party resources with a solid track record of results in those areas.
Bear in mind that any well-designed technology plan needs flexibility to account real-life contingencies, such as significant shifts in corporate priorities, leadership or budget that may occur along the way. To that end, it is a good idea to also present a track of continuous improvement investments in IT systems and staff, which will add value under any circumstances.
July 10, 2017