Today’s job shops are caught in a bit of a technology trap. On the one hand, the emerging technologies available that leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) make processes easier and more efficient, and can help your job shop keep pace with the competition and industry overall. On the other is the considerable investment required to purchase and implement these technologies, which raises the question about true necessity. Not every job shop is willing or able to overhaul its business for the sake of technology.
Therein lies some possible missed opportunities for job shops of any size. Technology isn’t a narrow “automate or not automate” choice. Instead, it is a purpose-driven decision to implement electronic solutions like an ERP system that improve practices, processes, and communications—fostering sustained business growth and profitability in fundamental ways.
But, what “rules” apply to when and how a manufacturer chooses and implements technology? Here are four to consider when determining how to best leverage it for your job shop:
- No decision is a decision. Deferring decisions about how much technology you’ll use—and how you’ll use it—almost automatically puts your job shop behind the eight ball. Playing “catch up” in the ever-evolving technological sphere isn’t realistic, and can be detrimental to your business. Instead, think in phases. Implementing an ERP system, for example, allows you to easily design and improve processes that support scalability and growth.
- Make vs. buy. Managing your supply chain in such a way as to make strategic purchases that meet the evolving needs of your customers instead of defaulting to making everything in house is smart business. You can work faster, which improves your competitive position, and it also allows you to manage time to your best advantage. In short, it’s the “work smart, not hard” principle in action.
- Align technical resources with the future. One thing’s for certain, technology doesn’t stand still. Don’t think “today” (or, worse, “yesterday”) when it comes to your technical resources. Lean forward in your decisions to the technology you choose so that it will support the business you envision you’ll be in five years.
- Focus. Moving your job shop forward means abandoning the notion that you can be all things to all people, and committing to doing specific things really well. Even if you’re unclear as to how technology will help you do so, the important thing is to make a focused start. Ask meaningful questions that help you gain clarity and step you toward a solution: Does an ERP system make sense? If so, how? Why? What are the short and long term implementation challenges and successes? What’s the end goal?
Technology is increasingly a “need to have” instead of a “nice to have” in business. Job shops that embrace it remain internally sound and relevant in the marketplace at large. Contact a Wipfli expert today to discuss how to put an ERP system to work for you.