June 29 2020

Agility, data and process improvement

From supply chain management to data processing, over the past 4 months we have seen what were once second-nature operations take new forms. The webinar Driving Change in the New Environment explored  how manufacturers can harness these changes to drive success. Read on for insights from the speakers.

Image: Speakers webinar - Howard Mould (top left), Jeremy Praud (top right), Waleed Shihadah (bottom left), Steve Crow (bottom right)

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Speakers round-up 

Not only has COVID-19 turned 2020 plans upside down, but its effects are predicted to ripple for the next decade. Some sectors have done very well over the last few months – what are the key takeaways for manufacturers?

The secret to successful strategy

A change of environment dictates a change in strategy. Director of Clarion Solicitors Steve Crow spent 35 years on business development in engineering manufacturing. He shared his take on strategy;

 The ability to be agile is critical in times of change. One of the things organisations need for this is data.”

So, it is not sector nor size that sets high flyers apart from under-achievers. Agile organisations have a characteristic in common – the data they need is at their fingertips;

“This can be financial data, client data, process data… agile organisations join this up, stand back, and look at the patterns in the sand to see where there are opportunities to optimise.”

The elephant in the room 

Let’s be honest, having access to accurate and timely data is easier said than done. So, what can change leaders without this privilege do about it?

Manufacturers are often told that only solution is a shiny new system with better reporting. Aside from being a bank-breaker, the big bang implementation approach can cause serious organisational disruption. Change Consultant Waleed Shihadah encouraged manufacturers to question this ‘out with the old, in with the new’ approach; 

There’s a safer way for manufacturers to get the data they need during uncertain times. Instead of implementing a big bang system, use inexpensive tools like IoT and cloud technologies to leverage the systems and teams you already have.”

During uncertain times, the more immediate the feedback loop the better. Taking an iterative approach gives leaders the opportunity for trial and error with minimal disruption, risk and investment in both time and money.

Facts, figures and the truth

In a world of ‘fake news’, drawing the line between fact and fiction has become a survival skill. Director of LI Europe, Jeremy Praud, has spent 20+ years developing a sequential process to unlock productivity gains. He stressed that change leaders must understand what the data is telling them;

"You have to make your own observations and use this to tailor what’s right for you… The first step is to avoid those myths. Within a factory, that means having a balanced set of KPIs across safety, quality, cost, delivery and people engagement.”

Jeremy pointed out a common mistake that even managers with balanced KPIs fall victim to:

“A lot of management teams will put in a great deal of effort into recording and analysing, then keep that information in management. Actually, if you want to keep people engaged, you’ve got to tell them what’s going on. If they don’t know they can’t help you.”

Change that sticks

Director of BGM Logistics Consultants, Howard Mould, shared change delivery success stories, one of which reported a saving of 56% on cost per kg in the first year. He boiled this down to engagement;

“Engagement has its own heading within the process and is absolutely vital in the success of what you do – it actually needs to be done at every step of the process…It is the continual engagement with suppliers and monitoring which nurtures the change process – monitoring and renewal.”

This blog is a follow up to FluidIT's webinar Driving Change in the New Environment.