There are many lessons for manufacturers to embrace in today’s data driven climate. One of the most important lessons is that evolution into a more digitalized world is the key to long term agility in manufacturing. The impact for digital transformation isn’t just about increasing efficiency though. It’s also about increasing speed because things are constantly changing and targets are constantly moving. Digital transformation creates long term sustainability and resilience. In an ever-changing world, this is the key to creating long term success for an operation.
What are some key steps for manufacturers when embarking on a digital transformation?
Let’s review a few important points.
Educating the Team
Everyone who will be part of the process needs to be well-versed in what the digital transformation will look like. This includes a long term vision as well as the steps that will be taken in the short term.
By educating everyone involved, issues can be prevented throughout the process.
What are the end goals for a digital transformation? It is important to know the end in mind before embarking on the journey. Because this will be a complex process with multiple facets that affect every aspect of the business, it helps to define the goals for the transformation before beginning the process of adjusting systems and choosing technology.
Defining goals should be completed from a high level view as well as a detailed departmental view. This ensures a vision for the overall digital transformation but also sets goals for specific aspects of the operation that will be greatly affected by the transformation.
A digital transformation is a huge commitment and a massive change. The ability of leadership to effectively communicate throughout the process can mean the difference between success and challenges throughout the transformation process. Everyone should understand why leadership is choosing digital transformation and how it will impact their respective responsibilities as well as the entirety of the operation.
Change is scary for even the biggest change supporters. By communicating effectively at all levels of the organization, there is a greater probability that the digital transformation will be successful. There may still be bumps on the road but everyone will have the confidence to work through those challenges if they have received effective communication.
Focusing on Process
A digital transformation should focus on the processes that will drive the business and not just the technology. Technology allows the processes to evolve and change. But sometimes manufacturing is segmented. It’s important to review all processes and how they connect within an operation to select the appropriate technology.
The technology that is chosen needs to not only meet the needs of the business. It also needs to be appropriate for long term use. That means it needs to have the potential to scale up as operational needs increase and as the business grows. In addition, the chosen technology needs to be able to keep up with industry changes through updates and improvements after implementation.
Playing the Long Game
A digital transformation is a process not an instantly completed task to check off a list. It requires long term thinking, a commitment to change systems and processes and a ton of testing. It can take up to two years to complete a full digital transformation. Being well-versed in thinking long term and operating within short and long term parameters is important.
A digital transformation journey can be overwhelming for a manufacturing operation but with proper planning, manufacturers can make their operation ready to meet the demands of an ever-changing world.
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