Most manufacturing companies have big ideas. They don’t just want to make products—they want to reach strategic objectives, achieve a mission or vision, and embody certain values.
All that is well and good, but when it comes to working across departments or silos in a large company, the objectives and mission and values go out the window. In their place are power struggles and office politics as each department puts its own KPI above the needs of the organization.
That’s bad news. The good news is that innovation can help.
Now, innovation can’t solve every personality conflict in your organization. But it can make it easier to work across silos, like the one between the back office and the manufacturing plant floor.
So let’s talk about three ways that you can do this in your manufacturing business.
1. Make data relevant to both the floor and the office
One of the causes of potential divides between the manufacturing floor and the main office is that leadership of each department measures different things. The office focuses on profitability, while the plant manager needs to concentrate on production efficiency. Both are vital to the company’s overall success, and neither applies universally. This is just one example of the fact that different data that concerns each side of the equation.
So a software solution that focuses on displaying one metric or the other isn’t really a solution. You need to innovate to make sure that each leader in the organization has the data he or she needs to fulfill daily responsibilities and KPI reporting.
Determining who sees what will take some work, and you may need to create a permission structure to ensure only the right people see data. But you need to make sure that each role gets data that is actually meaningful to it—and do it at the right time.
2. Empower real-time decisions
The reason it’s important to provide the right data at the right time is that your company’s leaders need timely data to make good decisions. This is something that any innovation project should help with.
Your plant manager needs to see problems with production or with the supply chain immediately, so that he or she can adjust and maintain overall productivity. If that data is updated on a weekly or even daily basis, it’s too late to successfully maneuver around a problem.
Likewise, your office personnel needs immediate updates on production changes so they can manage customer expectations, delivery timelines, and staffing issues. Again, a data delay to even the next day will force you to deal with a bigger problem than if you had real-time insight.
Of course, this means that the data from the plant floor needs to be available in the moment to the front office, and vice versa. Otherwise the decision-making filters your company’s leaders use will be incomplete.
The best way for your company to address issues is in the moment, and the best way to make decisions in the moment is with all of the data in front of you. And that data needs to be not just in the moment but up to the moment in order for you to achieve the best results.
3. Demonstrate tradeoffs to everyone
As we’ve already discussed, the main reason the office and manufacturing floor don’t get along is that they have different goals. Having these different goals means that silos make decisions based on different criteria. This is an area where innovation can help.
Innovation can help you find a way to show leaders the impacts of their decisions not just on their own KPI, but on the company as a whole. This can lead to informed discussions about tradeoffs, and more robust decisions that benefit everyone.
If your key team leaders are interested in your company’s success, then these discussions will lead to the right choice for your entire company. But you can only get to this level of decision-making if you give everyone the information they need.
Breaking down silos in your company requires major paradigm shifts. Digital innovation, especially through software, can spark those shifts.
So as you seek to unlock the power of innovation in your manufacturing company, look at ways to use that innovation to help every department work together, so that your company can actually achieve its lofty objectives and mission and vision and values.