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Companies need to improve their flow of information

 

Here's why the Corona pandemic lockdown might be the right time to do it

Yesterday, I read Jos Voskuil’s post on Time to Think (and act different). In the light of the current crisis, it has become very clear for me, and Jos, that many companies still struggle with knowledge sharing. Getting updates and information through to the correct department or group of people is still a challenge because the flow of information is also pushed through informal channels such as e-mails, physical meetings, chats at the watercooler etc.

With a myriad of these formal and informal systems containing data and information, companies do not have enough control over their data which makes them dependent on physical meetings to coordinate information and status updates. To Jos’ point, even unique identifiers are no longer relevant in a well-connected (object linking, and relationship based) PLM environment. Let’s look at this from a push/pull perspective.

As an example: Employee A, we’ll call him John, has over the years gathered test results in his personal spreadsheet and is unofficially the go-to guy for test result data. Naturally, many of John’s fellow coworkers show up at his desk or just wait for John to email them the latest spreadsheet to get the results and data they need.

And Lisa, employee B, who has been extremely thorough in planning release dates for the next batch of components, has all the relevant information stored in her own file folder. Like John, Lisa also gets many calls and questions from her co-workers.

But what if Lisa is not at the office? Or John, unfortunately, were hospitalized for several weeks? 

Naturally, if employees are dependent on specific individuals to get access to relevant data and if these individuals for a given reason are unavailable, it becomes difficult for employees to obtain the necessary data and get their work done. Does anyone else even know how to work John’s macro filled spreadsheet without his direct inputs? This creates a red-light scenario for employees and departments and dramatically lowers overall efficiency. This way of working is no longer cutting it.

Getting to the next level

The current situation with lockdowns around the globe makes it more visible than ever that companies need an entirely different degree of controlling data and processes.

It is no longer viable that knowledge and data is people-dependent, as these individuals are in risk of being unavailable for varying periods of time. The need for data becoming self-serving, or pulled, is even more important now and going forward because companies cannot continue to be dependent on John’s isolated test results or Lisa’s master release dates.

This also goes for electronic processes that can transfer tasks from unavailable employees to those employees that are currently available.

The need for optimization is clear

Companies should take the time now to look at their current processes and identify areas that need automation as we still see knowledge and information is people-dependent. There of course will always be people in the process, but the beauty of modern systems is the ability of every user to find the relevant details through the relationships between the products, parts, and documents. Even going a step further to say – at the relevant time in a secure way. With properly established states and permissions you won’t be releasing parts lists before engineering is ready or sending the wrong BOM to the wrong contractor. Optimized processes with smart automation reduce these errors while providing a veritable encyclopedia of connected, searchable, live product data.

As we cannot expect the same degree of accessibility in this current situation as we had before, companies need to prepare for an even more digital future where it is necessary to change the flow of information as well as electronic processes.

So How do you do that?

As Jos points out, in a push-mode, the person in the middle; in our scenarios John and Lisa, has the responsibility to distribute information and ensure it remains accurate for all stakeholders. On Minerva PLM, we enable the digital enterprise through the pull-mode. Highly inter-operable, connected data with lifecycles and workflows available at your fingertips.

Recently we’ve spoken about the need to move to a data centric approach, aka getting out of files and into content. Watch it here

This directly relates to the pull model. If you’re still relying on too many files, regardless if they are word or CAD documents or some other format, you’re missing out on moving to the next level of digitalization and the ability to enable your employees to serve themselves.

And in the meantime:

We at Minerva are all working from home in various parts of the globe. Though there is a lot of uncertainty and times are turbulent, we want to stay engaged and with our sites set on the future. At some point we will emerge. Let’s get there, stronger together. We’re open to one on one or team virtual discussions, doing live sessions on LinkedIn, or hosting a webinar. No strings attached. Just people helping people keep a positive outlook and coming out the other side of this safe, sane, and healthy.

 

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About the author

Jennifer Moore

Jennifer Moore has more than 15 years of experience in Business Transformation across different industries. Her extensive experience includes helping companies navigate complex regulatory requirements through software solutions. She has been developing and deploying large, multi-faceted enterprise software project, driving revenues as well as market adoption.

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