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IT Challenge: Using collaboration technology across manufacturing

In this IT Challenge, find tips for deploying collaboration technology across a manufacturing enterprise.

The IT Challenge of the Month for May 2012:

What are some of the best ways that my company’s IT department can encourage and enable more collaboration across manufacturing departments? What modules should we focus on?

Do you have a solution to this challenge? Have you encountered a similar issue at your business? If so, please contact the editors and share your suggestions or experiences. 

IT Challenge respondents will receive a free copy of a new book from SAP Press.

And be sure to check back here all this month -- we'll be posting solutions from experts and readers as we receive them.

From industry expert Steve Phillips:

I believe that collaboration comes in two forms. The first is cross-functional communication on a regular basis. This can be initiated with regular meetings to discuss workflows and improvement opportunities within specific business processes. Key stakeholders from all departments involved should be included in order to get a holistic view of the process in question. These meetings enhance collaboration and often yield many improvements that have nothing to do with software.

The second type of collaboration does include data integration. This is important so that stakeholders from different areas of the business are operating using the same set of information. When it comes to manufacturing modules, the core set usually includes product data, inventory, scheduling, shop floor control, quality and visibility of purchase orders and sales orders. Also, mobile apps will enhance these areas over time in the form of real-time collaboration across departments.

From industry analyst and CEO of Constellation Research Ray Wang:

A good way to collaborate is to avoid the conversation about departments. Look at business flow first; I'd work with the order to cash cycle. Start with order visibility as that impacts inventory, supply, warehousing, production planning, customer self service, etc. By taking the business flow, you can then begin with the end in mind, which is how to improve order visibility. Then, follow the business flow and see what departments and modules are impacted. From there you’ll know what users it will touch. Once you have that flow in play, you can then start figuring out how to improve collaboration by:

  • sharing information
  • eliminating redundancy
  • delivering information in real time and the right time


This was last published in May 2012

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