You have probably seen this picture before. Within Minerva, we call this picture “The Chaos Slide”. It describes the situation many companies are facing today:
They use a lot of different applications to manage their data.
- Unfortunately, these applications are not interconnected.
- That means you cannot be sure that your have access to the right version of your data.
- These small isolated islands of data create a chaotic environment inside your organization that hurts your overall productivity in the end.
Most people don’t realize that they are inside this chaos.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with multiple companies. After much discussion on their business processes, we ultimately arrive with a picture like the one above.
For years, companies have spent numerous dollars on their Manufacturing, Financial and Logistics systems. But the lack of investment in a proper data management system, has left many engineering processes behind.
I believe it is about time for a change.
Here is why you should consider changing the way you work today:
- Are you working smart today? If not, you should!
A lot of companies arrive at this “chaos slide”situation through rapid growth. Other companies end up at this point by having employees who autonomously apply quick fix solutions to a problem within a department. I’m sure many of you can reflect on your own journey.
But you need to ask yourself, is this really the smartest way to work?
- If your data is not connected, how do you trace the impact of a change to a requirement?
- And how can you make sure that your documentation, product specification, cost estimate, CAD drawings, marketing, validation, and your verification plans are updated to the latest version?
The point is, do you have smart processes within your organization? And if not, how can you optimize?
- Your engineers should spend their time on engineering!
Speaking about working smart. Do you know what your engineers are spending most of their time doing? Most likely, it’s not engineering.
Engineers are problem solvers by nature. If they need a spreadsheet, an application or even a paper process to handle their data, they will create it.
The problem with this process is; engineers are not necessarily good at looking at how these small quick fix solutions affect the bigger picture in the organization. Thus, if you have several separate applications within your organization, you will end up with a lot of small non-connected data islands.
And unfortunately, that process leads to:
- Duplicate data
- Processes being done in several places with the risk of no data visibility or traceability
- No single source of the truth
Your engineers should not be spending time on filling out spreadsheets or forms or participating in status meetings. They should spend their time on value-added activities like actual engineering.
You need to make sure that your organization has access to a system that supports the flow of data throughout your organization.
- Convince your CFO that better systems and processes is worth the investment!
It might seem unfair to you that you must justify the need for better systems and processes to your CFO. After all, your “Business of Engineering” is helping drive the revenue, right? But upgrading or even changing your organization’s data management system is quite a substantial investment in terms of time and money. So, it is obvious that any corporate CFO would like to have their say.
To put it into terms that your CFO may understand:
Dear CFO, how would you feel if you had one spreadsheet for your receivables, another spreadsheet for your payables, and a network drive to hold all your purchase order documents. For fun you can reconcile the cash on hand with a bank statement.
Apply your challenges to their situation. Maybe they will look at it from another perspective.
Now I know it is easy for me to come up with ideas for change. I am not the one to implement the changes in the organization. But if you want to push the organization forward and improve the processes, these pointers are a good way to start.
If you’re interested in hearing how we have helped other companies improve the way they do their “Business of Engineering”, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, I’m interested in your comments.