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Smart Software for Efficient Manufacturing December 10

What to look for when searching for a technology provider

By Joe Whitworth+

01-Dec-2014
Last updated on 01-Dec-2014 at 11:00 GMT2014-12-01T11:00:00Z

One challenge is that established practices may or may not meet the current business environment, said Brown
One challenge is that established practices may or may not meet the current business environment, said Brown

When looking at managing business priorities you must determine baseline metrics and start to measure change, according to the founder of a consultancy.

Ron Brown, BPSO Consulting which is focussed on Product Portfolio Management, told FoodProductionDaily that business priorities must be established – a maximum of three, ensure executive sponsorship of them and make sure etrics are clear, measureable and actionable.

When looking for a technology provider firms should start with an inventory of current architecture, have a clear perspective of the future and look to partners making focused investments in the space as you want to be with a partner (vendor) that has a vision and is willing to work with you, he said.

Industry challenges

Brown, also recently retired CIO, global R&D and global nutrition group at PepsiCo, said a company establishes processes that can be supported by applications generally intended to help automate, enhance capability (value of data) and enable monitoring in many cases.

“So clearly a challenge the industry faces today is the fact that the established practices may or may not meet the current business environment or the established processes are not being followed as defined,” he said. 

“An organization should have an established metric process and audit process to ensure they are able to identify variances and correct issues as they are identified. 

“Additionally the leadership of any given organization should be ensuring the established practices meet the business requirements.”

The application environment, established to support a business process has a natural lifecycle so if it is not meeting established practice requirements of the business it should be addressed.

An application platform also has to be maintained, be it the infrastructure, operating systems and software to be supported and considered as sustainable to ensure uptime (reliability), security and support.  

Choosing a system

When choosing a system it is critical to look at the broader business portfolio and efforts to recognize work in a different portion of the business may have an impact on specific needs.

Companies should have a clear application portfolio process, and a business architect role that is looking across the landscape to maximize value. 

The bottom line is about communication and ensuring applications are not chosen in silos, said Brown.

He said ERP, LIMS, MOM and MES and others all have a place in business.

“They are most likely established to support a specific business need (process), the challenge is many tend to be established in silos, limited data exchange and can be a challenge to modify to meet the changes in the business environment.”

Trade-off decision

Brown said every business has to make trade-off decisions on investments as with the current global economy needs most likely outweigh capacity.

“So any organization would need to justify the need for an investment, and build a business case to ensure their request made the cut at the end of the day,” he said. 

“So if there is a clear legal requirement I would see that as an operating necessity, it would be challenged to ensure there is not a way to solve for it within the environment established, it could be productivity or consumer confidence (brand value) but each company establishes a budgetary process so there is not a single answer.”

Brown said if you look at the historical system investments early systems tended to be accounting systems and supported purchasing. 

“As technology evolved and business were challenged to manage cost supply chain (be it warehouse, manufacturing, transportation) it became a key area of investments.  That is not to say other investments did not take place. 

“Software providers such as SAP, Oracle and others (many of which are gone now) did not focus on other parts of the business so many boutique or soloed solutions were established to meet specific needs.”

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