More than half of the manufacturers we talk to come to the table with more than enough challenges to solve but no list of requirements for the tool that will do the trick. Backing into what’s causing the actual issues that you’re having is a difficult process. It’s not for the faint of heart. And how are you supposed to create a list of requirements when you don’t yet know what you need?

Larger companies spend weeks or months (or even years) determining what they need. This can be focused and organized; sometimes, it’s an exercise in futility as different teams fight for different needs. Take, for example, a team that needs to verify inventory levels and required inventory to meet current order demands. That team needs a system that marks inventory reserved but still allows the use of it. The team that does procurement needs to know how much to order, what, and when.

A traditional system, especially financial system(s) with inventory modules, will track inventory usage at origination or completion of work. That doesn’t help either group. For the inventory team, it will usually show short, and the procurement team will order before they’re assured they need it.

So, they come to us with problems to solve and requirements to uncover. After 25 years of requirements work with manufacturers of all sizes and industries, we’ve boiled down a methodology of questions to help them. We do this as part of the sales cycle because we know that not everyone has the team depth or experience to do it themselves and our mission statement guides us on this path.

We believe every manufacturers, regardless of size or industry, should be able to afford tools that increase capacity, efficiency, and accuracy in the production process.  

 

Manage and Leverage Production Data with Quantum  LEARN HOW HERE

 

what's the secret?

Requirements are only large if you try to take it all in at once. You don’t really need to do that. Trust that a system built for manufacturing will be able to grow with you. So, I suppose, the first requirement should be that, if you are a manufacturer, you need a system built for manufacturing. If you limit your manufacturing work to the distribution of manufactured goods or light assembly, you can flex to a system that does warehousing. Or even an ERP.

But, if you have people on the shop floor doing different work patterns daily, you need something that can flex just as the work and the people do. If you’ve read our blogs before, we write about this often. Jobs, people, materials, and information are in constant motion and a system that is not built to handle this will not help you when you most need it.

 

See How Production Management  Works in Quantum  CLICK HERE

 

I'm looking beyond my erp. what next?

Okay, so you’ve gotten past the first hurdle. Now, look to your most pressing problem. It must fit into one of 4 or 5 buckets if you’re in traditional manufacturing circles:

  • Time – how long and when work will be done,
  • Materials – what I’m using to do the work and is it available,
  • Work – what am I doing and when’s it due,
  • People – who can do the work and are they open currently, or
  • Money – am I making or losing it right now?

We break these down differently in the sales cycle for customers, but we’ll take a broader approach here. Take, for instance, a shop that sends a job to the floor and never knows where it is until it “comes out the other side.” For this shop, orders might be constantly late (time issue). Or, they may have to pay extra for fast shipping (money issue). Or, the customer is calling and you can’t confirm where the work is without running around and asking a bunch of people (work issue).

Lack of data in any (or all, in many cases) of these areas is a data issue and that means it’s critical for you. Without data, you don’t have information and you can’t make the decisions you must without using a gut reaction. Many manufacturers work fine in this mode – and by fine, we mean that they move along month to month and handle issues as they arise.

With the recent variability in the workforce that we’ve seen from either quarantine or just having the workforce you need for the work you have, the pressure is on, and operating “as usual” just will not work.

 

I'D LIKE TO SEE QUANTUM

 

so, what are my requirements?

Well, if you aren’t going to go through a complete analysis, the bare-bones way to get from point A to point B is to tell your vendor that you have a _____ problem and fill in the blank. “I have a time issue on my shop floor. How can you help?” And then describe the time issue you have. If you’re a small shop, you don’t have the luxury and don’t need the full requirements assessment to know that, if you solved that time issue, you got to where you needed.

If you feel the need to go further, dive into how each of those buckets – time, materials, work, people, and money – are problems for you. If you can boil each of those down into a few salient points, a reputable vendor should be able to help you find your way through.

 

OKay, I have list # 1, what's next?

You’re armed with the knowledge that your inventory issue is a materials one. It’s causing money issues as you’re spending cash earlier on inventory than you need. Remember, your procurement team couldn’t tell what was actually in stock versus promised and whether it was pulled and used or just sitting in the aisle.

Ask the vendors you find to help you determine how to solve your materials and money issues. They should be interested in why it’s a problem. They should ask questions to determine what’s wrong and where it starts. And, if they’re worth their weight in manufacturing software, they should show you how to solve it with their tools. They should, for good measure, take you one step further and show you something you might not have found yourself; perhaps how to take this information and use it to be more profitable or efficient.

And, if all else fails (or if you think we’ve proven ourselves to be knowledgeable and caring enough), reach out and ask us. It’s important that you find someone who cares about your issue. Otherwise, you risk buying something that doesn’t solve the problem you have. 

Anxious to get the information faster? Engage with us for a Process Gap Analysis of your shop. We’re only an email away, info@cimx.com.

Contact CIMx Software to see how a Manufacturing Execution System can improve production control for you.

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