This year, the pandemic has really emphasized and accentuated the need for companies to critically look at business operations. Technology has been an essential component of the process, aiding the mobilization of the remote workforce, and increased collaboration.
It’s no secret that digitalization can create efficiencies in your business, and it could open up new revenue streams, and it can position you as the technological leader in your industry — depending on how “all-in” you choose to go. The truth is, however, that there is much value to be gained in starting slowly, creating a digital strategy, and making sure you have the fundamentals in place.
Here is a list of considerations for business leaders before they up their digitalization game:
Remember to focus on the foundational pillars
If you are considering making a move to digital, remember to keep the three foundational pillars of customer experience; your own operational processes; and your business model, top of mind when making your decision.
Customer experience: If you have no customers, you have no business, which is why your customer should always be at the heart of everything you do. Today’s business landscape is a lot more fast-paced, and customers are a lot more demanding than before. Standard product offerings are no longer enough, and personalization and customization are the calls of the day. Manufacturers need to understand, profile, and categorize their customers, and your ERP can help you do that by providing a socially informed, analytics-based segmentation of your customer base. This will help you to service your customers better and more easily.
Operational processes: Operations are the foundation of any manufacturing business. By digitizing your processes, you can standardize your business processes, and streamline operations. While there is a wealth of technology solutions available, Microservices architectures or platforms, cloud enablement, and Software as a Service (SaaS), are the primary foundational technologies being implemented in manufacturing currently, and these should be embedded in your ERP solution.
These types of technology help manufacturers to leverage collected IoT-driven data, by connecting it to other tools and technologies, like predictive and cognitive analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML), which are becoming increasingly appealing. For these and other technologies to be truly transformative, however, they must be able to integrate with enterprise applications like ERP.
Your business model: If you’re on a digital transformation journey, you will probably also need to consider making the transition to the cloud. Whether you run a solution on your own premises, or in a private or public cloud, or a hybrid, the ability to access critical information anytime, from anywhere, and to scale up and down quickly in response to events, all within a more secure environment, creates a significant advantage. It opens the door for the kind of connectivity you will need as a full and active participant in the digital economy.
A future-fit ERP system can help you to make the transition to digital
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) provides the platform to automate, integrate, and digitize business processes. An effective ERP system offers multiple benefits to help with overall business performance and can help your organization with its digital transformation. It is a cost-effective entry-point into digitalization and allows you to get the fundamentals of digitalization right, prior to expanding into the more complex and costly technologies.
It can also help you to automate, and integrate core business processes, such as taking customer orders; scheduling operations; and keeping inventory records, and financial data. Correctly implemented, it can also provide intelligence, visibility, analytics, and efficiency across every aspect of a business. This will enable employees to contribute at a higher level, and make decisions from a well-informed position, and will foster better communication and collaboration across the business.
Implementing an ERP system is more than just an IT project, it is a business-wide strategy to unlock multiple benefits for stakeholders. It’s drivers, and business objectives are firmly rooted in the business, and it has a significant impact on its people, processes, and culture, so it is crucial to have the right approach and attitude when embarking on this journey.
Before you choose an ERP software your end goal — or your definition of success — must be clearly defined and understood. You need to know what specific measurable benefits the system needs to deliver and be able to manage stakeholder expectations and gauge whether your various stakeholders (including your employees, management, and customers) are happy with the delivered outcomes.
It is critical to understand that your ERP solution requires ongoing attention, oversight, and support throughout its life cycle. Without the correct level of attention and maintenance, your system won’t work effectively. When selecting an ERP provider, try to find a vendor that offers both technology and delivery as a service. In other words, a vendor should be a part of the entire customer service cycle and should act as a Trusted Advisor.
Get the basics right
Smart manufacturing can be enabled by digitalization, and it is about adding a level of intelligence and connectivity to both the manufacturing process, and the business of manufacturing. By getting the basics of your ERP implementation right: ensuring the project is CEO-led, that you have clear objectives and an end goal in mind; ensuring that you have effective change management in place; and by taking the three pillars of digital transformation, into account, you are more likely to be successful in your digital transition journey.
It is essential to do your due diligence, and carefully consider the reasons for wanting to digitally transform your business. Having a clear line of sight into your current state of readiness, your current operational processes, and the potential cost implications of transitioning is important, or the transition could cost you more than the benefits that it offers. By making sure you have a strong foundation, you can help your business to become more agile, efficient, innovative, and ready to embrace the opportunities that digitalization presents.