We are starting to hear the communities think about "opening back up" after the first wave of extreme social distancing comes to a close. Employers have furloughed and laid off staff, and they are already thinking through who would be best to bring back on full time, part time, and who is a permanent departure from the team.
As you and your leadership team respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can think of this as an opportunity to improve your manufacturing team culture. Take this opportunity to invest in people, and you will have a stronger employee culture on the other side. “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou
I’m always overwhelmed when I walk in a manufacturing plant and see miles of endless charts on the wall with red and green dots. Individually, I know that chart means something to one or a few people, but collectively my brain is blurred at answering the most basic questions:
I recently wrote an article on my blog called, “Custom Software is a Bad Idea.” This came out of conversations where we were discussing the differences between custom software and configured software. Custom Software describes a situation where a company would have customer software engineering done for their specific situation. Configured software describes software that is setup for a company’s operations via a user interface, often by the customer themselves. Ampogee is a configured software because our customers can update information in the app such as products, reason codes (when a manufacturing standard isn’t met), employees, etc. Ampogee, by definition, is a SaaS product. If you’re unfamiliar with that acronym, it is Software as a Service. The simple way to look at this is that Ampogee is web-based software. It’s sold as a service to our customers, and delivered via the web. It requires no integration with backend systems such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), MRP (Manufacturing Resource Planning) software or anything else, including machines on the shop floor. Quite frankly, this is the secret sauce to Ampogee because it’s super fast to implement (an afternoon basically) and requires no other resources at the customer except for some iPads (which we can provide) and an occasional Wifi connection. (The iPads can collect data off-line, so this is often just daily to sync data back to the mothership.) The key is that Ampogee isn’t custom software. It’s in use at many different companies with many different processes and is configurable to work well in just about any environment where production throughput is countable. We have had customers in the past ask us to customize the software. Initially we were hungry enough to say yes. What we’ve come to realize is that it’s generally a bad idea. Now, we stick to the notion of configurable which means that our software is well tested across a broad range of customers, new features and benefits are easily rolled out to all of our customers, and whenever issues arise such as security bugs, updates in web browsers or iOS (on the iPad), or any number of other things come up, we can roll those changes out globally. What’s more, we feel strongly that Ampogee’s apps, including our iPad app for operators on the shop floor, scoreboards for teams on the shop floor, and dashboards for managers, provide great value across organizations and industries by providing the right level of configurability to account for nuances across organizations and industries while also being robust, bug free, and secure for all of our users. If we were to go down the path of writing custom software for customers, we would lose this advantage that we feel is core to the successful implementation of Ampogee in manufacturing organizations.
“The majority of blue-collar workers believe pay increases should be earned by performance as opposed to tenure.” The workforce today wants to be great at what they do. The employees want objective performance reviews, and they want to be recognized when they are adding value for the business and team. Creating a performance management system at work can be successful if you do these three things. If you miss one of the three foundations in your performance management system, you won't achieve the benefits of more engaged employees and better business results.
I've been reading several industry reports in the last week, and all of them suggest that developing a "Digital Transformation Strategy" is the most important thing for manufacturers to be doing to stay competitive. I agree that leveraging technology better than your competitors is going to keep you ahead in the coming years, but what will it cost you?
Do you think you are like Kobe Bryant? You are Kobe are not that different. Here are 5 Kobe Bryant quotes that could be said to your teams in your manufacturing plant.
Do you have a clear and consistently followed cell phone policy for your factory floor? We summarized best practices from manufacturers on how they police cell phone usage in their plants. There are several different flavors of cell phone policies, so we listed a couple popular options and identified the pros and cons of each type of policy. You might find that you pick and choose from these options to create the policy that is best for you.
TL;DR: It’s all about your employees. Retain them. Engage them. Grow them.
Whether you are a seasoned manufacturing leader or this is your first day on the job, you can start doing these 5 things immediately.