Outdated and disorganized data is not partial to any one industry; and the necessity to make efficient decisions on accessible information is not partial to any single leadership role. Across all businesses, the operations that fuel a successful team rely heavily on that accessibility to:
So what do you do when you find yourself working in the business and not on it because your visibility is instead clouded by data that is all over the place?
Let’s dive into a real-world case where we’ll share how leaders, like you, experienced the repercussions of operating off data that was no longer supporting the goals of the business; and what practical steps they took to embrace this reality to make real measurable change.
As a second or third tier supplier based out of Clarklake, Michigan, the team at Production Saw & Machine (PSM) is built by leaders with a combined experience of over 200 years. With that experience comes ingrained awareness of the challenges that invade both the manufacturing space, and corporations as a whole. Operating as the long-standing company that they are, PSM has had to remain agile with ever-changing factors that have shifted the market over the years; therefore, when it came to handling mass shipment levels, this unquestionably resulted in quality management taking a higher priority over technology and processes.
In today’s digital world it’s rare you find yourself entering a meeting where performance is calculated by hand or decisions are made on paper. At PSM, like many other businesses today, meetings were run by referencing disparate spreadsheets and expansive ERP reports. But at what point does that aspect of digital leverage play a counterintuitive role in getting the job done?
We live in such a fast-paced and decision-driven environment yet businesses are still so often missing the forest from within the trees. Simply because the supply of digital information is there, does not mean you are meeting the demand that is critical for success – that’s where accessibility, accuracy, and full visibility come into play.
In these spreadsheet-run meetings, PSM frequently found themselves paused by formula errors. Not only did they then spend a majority of the time fixing these issues at hand as they came, but in reality, they were also estimating to only be using about 30% of their ERP system’s full capability and finding the spreadsheets from one leader to another were often unaligned. This question of accuracy and lack of complete access caused an immediate hindrance to the team’s decision-making before the meetings even started.
PSM began the process of becoming more proactive and less reactive by stepping back and taking inventory of their challenges to date. Above all else, they knew they were successfully shipping quality parts. However, what took a backseat for the sake of delivering on this promise were their efficiencies and processes, and there was simply not enough manpower to address this ongoing cycle.
As part of Bearex’s process, PSM identified five key stakeholders and the two spreadsheets each of them used the most – the who and the what that were being impacted directly by the inaccuracy and inaccessibility mentioned earlier. When doing so, they found there was an existing reject/concern spreadsheet kept by the quality manager that no one else on the team who would be a valuable player in knowing, was aware of. The more they uncovered, the more they were able to start and see the bigger picture. This spreadsheet had years of data input in it, and yet was completely untouched by everyone but one individual, the quality manager. This alone opens the door to a greater question at large – what decisions could have been made more effectively, or at all for that matter, had there been more than one set of eyes and more than one perspective to dissect the information? Now imagine if all that data was accurate and combined with other production information?
Every business has its own internal organizational structure and with that, its own operational procedures. Just as much as there is a need for standardization in processes, there is a need for it across the organization’s people as well.
It’s likely you are familiar with the PPT framework originated by business management expert Harold Leavitt in the 1960s – a framework that explains the value behind having a symbiotic relationship between the people, processes, and technology that interact within a business.
All that is to say, if the people who are managing and performing day-to-day functions are not optimizing their resources; or in turn, if the resources and technology cannot be utilized as they should be, the processes and operational efficiency suffer as a result.
For example, when the team at PSM dug deeper into the current structure and quality of their data, they quickly discovered a lack of consistent standardized data entry was creating a level of inefficiency they may not have seen otherwise. There was a lack of clear validity they could attest to when it came to issue coding when they realized the word ‘rust’ for example, was spelled five different ways – rustt, rst, _rust, rust_, rut), and therefore, any further analysis was already at a disadvantage.
When businesses bring these ideas of data integrity and solutions for greater visibility into the conversation, that’s when that ideal three-part equilibrium between people, processes, and technology becomes ever more necessary. Ensuring the right people have the right access starts by asking those questions and understanding the core intent of the information that will drive the business forward.
Instead of only looking at the areas that are not working, whether it be something more tangible like how robust your system is; we find it also critical to look at what currently is, and to take the time to understand the why – if success is tied to internal factors, what needs to remain consistent in order to withstand the shift in data optimization? If it’s more tied to external elements, where can you become more agile to ensure that the next time an unexpected variable happens, the business is automatically prepared.
When our team at Bearex first started working with PSM, a management overview dashboard fit the bill to initiate steps towards empowering better decisions. Building off of what was both working well and where opportunity existed to tighten and strengthen the relationship between their people and data, this dashboard was created with the intent to provide PSM’s President, Jeff Vancalberg a keen eye but efficient overview on monthly sales and estimated profits. Doing so significantly diminished the time and effort previously wasted on even just looking for information that ultimately, would still be inaccurate, unaligned from other data sources, outdated; or at its worst, untouchable.
Since bringing that first dashboard into effect, today PSM finds themselves in a position where digital transformation is no longer optional, but now imperative to proactively act on the answers told by their data.
For about 18 months, the President continued to drive the implementation of more dashboards, fostering a culture of data transparency by having his employees and fellow colleagues come down to his office and analyze the dashboards as they were displayed on a large TV on his wall. As this shared visibility gained traction, he then decided to expand access to his supervisors, quadrupling the number of users. The result? New perspectives lead to new ideas, which in turn lead to new solutions, and altogether long-term change.
To this day, PSM’s Insights Hub continues to grow as clients like PSM simultaneously experience growth across their organizational data management. From sales forecasting, to engineering projects, to quality inspection information, the team at PSM has created a whole new meaning for “all hands on deck” when it comes to spotting where gaps lie in their data’s potential. With 50 dashboards, 34 users, and 2 wall displays, complete visibility now sits at the forefront of each day. By adding another wall display to the employee break room, everyone has a glance at the top and bottom five employee efficiencies across the board, holding each employee accountable towards meeting (and improving) on their goal of staying out of the bottom five. Over time, this individualized effort has turned into a collective force to greater operational efficiency from the ground up.
The success of any organization largely depends on the capability to see into your business, while not having to spend all your time working in the business. Real growth comes when key players can take a step back, make sound decisions on actionable data, and ask what can we learn from this?
At Bearex, we’re ready to grow with you. We’ll operate as your complete data insights team, creating an Insights Hub for your organization’s reporting, analytics, and data entry. Today, PSM is implementing EOS to even better utilize the Insights Hub and capitalize on the information in front of them.
Learn how the Insights Hub will drive your team’s day to day activities by providing one place for all systems to merge and highlight the most important outliers causing inefficiencies.
“We are excited to push the norm and guide our clients to the future by harnessing the power of data, more importantly making it useful in their day to day operations.”