Doing business in the digital era has opened doors for many smaller enterprises which, thanks to advances in technology, are now able to compete with their larger counterparts on an even playing field. However, failure to keep abreast of the latest tech developments can leave manufacturers lagging behind the competition, so it’s in their interest to take action to ensure this doesn’t happen.
One way in which manufacturing businesses are ensuring all processes run smoothly and effectively is by rolling out an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Doing so can temporarily cause a shift in focus, and take away resources from operations, but those enterprises that implement ERP properly can almost guarantee their operations will improve significantly as a result.
In this post, we’ll start from the beginning, taking a closer look at the reasons why your manufacturing business should consider investing in ERP.
As your business expands, it is essential that you take the time to ensure all of the processes you have in place are capable of growing with you. In a competitive market, there is no room for improvisation, and the most successful businesses will always take steps to put processes in place that ensure the smooth running of operations.
ERP solutions are designed to help businesses streamline their operations, giving you more time to focus on what’s important, rather than the administrative functions involved to make sure these things can happen.
Are your processes managed with manual systems, or even spreadsheets? As businesses grow, what previously worked may prove to be ineffective, so it is vital that you roll out new ways of working in order to make sure everything is working correctly.
Whether you are tracking production on a whiteboard, or passing a clipboard through a specific job lifecycle, manual errors are likely to happen, and these mistakes can prove incredibly costly for your business.
ERP helps to reduce the likelihood that human errors will go unnoticed, allowing individuals from across the company to collaborate and view progress easily and efficiently.
If the complex nature of your processes have resulted in some of them being swept under the carpet, your business could face spiralling costs and even more problems when the extent of the issue eventually comes to light. If you have forgotten about important operations, it is time to take a step back because identifying these unmanaged processes can make for more efficient and reliable operations.
As businesses expand, it can be increasingly difficult to ensure communication remains as simple as possible, particularly between departments. If your manufacturing team is failing to communicate with its counterparts across the business, you face a disconnection, leaving your employees attempting to connect the dots, rather than getting the job at hand completed.
It should go without saying that you cannot improve the performance of your business without being able to properly measure the successes and failures you endure. Without key operational information, or accurate cost reports, how can you view whether you are achieving your goals?
ERP gives organisations a much needed overview of the business performance as a whole, giving you valuable opportunities to spot where mistakes are happening, and put processes in place to avoid them.
Old, inflexible and cumbersome systems can leave you frustrated, struggling to keep up with your competitors. Take some time to consider your existing system, does it really work for you? If it no longer fits, it is time to make some changes.
Overall, making the decision to upgrade to ERP can be daunting for businesses that may have become set in their ways. This is not a process that can be carried out half-heartedly, and organisations must put in the necessary legwork to ensure the switch is a success. However, those that do take the bold leap, and dedicate the necessary time and resources to it, can benefit from more streamlined, organised and easy to understand operations, which means they can focus more time on what’s important.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.