Operations management as enterprise management: New paradigms in business software deployments
Operations management is perhaps the most straightforward concept in all of the enterprise’s functions to grasp, and yet the most complex and troublesome to master. In a computing analogy, operations management is oversight of the IN/OUT system. In slightly more granular detail:
Successful operations management ensures that the sum of the fewest possible resources is utilized to create the maximum and highest quality output of the organization.
Complexity enters the picture when we consider the nature of those raw materials “entering” the business. Labor, energy, physical “ingredients” or components each have their own specific complications, requirements and sometimes, a dedicated department or division: Human Resources, in the case of labor.
Therefore, Operations is a significant tranche of any enterprise, with its fingers in many pies.
The oversight and management of operations need to balanced politically & operationally with regards to the enterprise’s internal workings, as well as compelling enough to produce positive and improved outcomes day-to-day.
While each enterprise type will have its specific requirements from its Operations Management function – be it energy, utilities, mining, manufacturing or services – there are several areas in which operations management software’s remit can apply, and produce genuinely revolutionary outcomes.
This article aims to look at some of those features of technology which empower ops managers, and have the power to bring about insightful change, whichever the industry vertical.
Agent Orange not required
It’s important to note that there’s usually no need to tear up any technology systems and/or software already in place, to replace rafts of perfectly functioning and effective solutions with something new, shiny, and somehow more attractive.
Several of the solutions covered here (see below) will happily integrate with legacy systems, and act therefore as a unifying fulcrum around which existing systems can pivot.
By bringing together human resource functions, supply chain management systems, quality oversight solutions, logistics and so forth, the latest generations of operations management software’s stance comes to mirrors ops management itself: it is inclusive of many diverse enterprise functions.
By interfacing and seeing the bigger picture, organization-wide changes can take place.
Out of many, one
With disparate technologies from multiple vendors, home-grown processes & software, plus the inevitable hundreds of spreadsheets (some containing years’ of crafted VB routines), op management software reduces complexity. It also empowers other users to see broader views of data which was previously silo-ed.
It is difficult in a relatively short article to cover all industries’ operation management facets. Manufacturing execution optimization systems will not suit healthcare applications, entirely – but may well have much in common with mining & minerals operations.
Therefore, our advice at Tech Wire Asia would be to seek out operations management systems suppliers with specific experience of your sector.
Keystones one through five
An efficient operations management suite will encompass several underpinning keystones. The first of these will be a way in which existing operations can be judged, right along the business journey, from the input of “raw” materials to output of goods or services. Operations audit is therefore our first keystone.
Second of the keystones comprises a planning facility: The same data insights of an “as is” assessment can then be deployed in a series of “what-if” models, in which possibilities offered by the innumerable variations on processes can be explored.
In a modern Operations Management setting, modeling takes place in abstracted simulation, rather than in costly real-world experiments.
Third keystone concerns the human factors: Time tracking employees, exploring different staffing models (contracted, in-house, agency, freelance) and even the process of pulling together daily staff briefing data can today all be achieved in software & hardware.
Any enterprise’s most expensive assets are those on two legs – in the majority of cases – but the monitoring & management of raw materials on their way to, and through, the enterprise can also yield profound insights – supply chain oversight is keystone four.
Managing supply chains – or at least gaining oversight of contracted parties’ activities – provides divisions & departments further down the business process with a “heads-up” on what to expect, and therefore enables a degree of planning and optimization which would not have been possible previously.
Production execution functions sound as if they are quite specific to manufacturing, and/or heavy industry. However, the same concerns affect life science & pharma, utilities and even creative service industries.
The maximization of efficiencies as production takes place underpins the pressing need to personalize products – the latest consumer-driven demand. Everyone wants a bespoke product; the question is whether your organization can supply! Production techniques and optimization are facet five.
It’s the internet of things, stupid!
Tech Wire Asia, as its name suggests, will always give a technological slant to any review-based piece, so it seems fitting, therefore, that honorable mention is made of the internet of things’ emergence as a revolutionary technology.
IoT and its cousin on the shop floor or installation, IIoT (industrial internet of things), are data-powered source of insight. Machines which monitor and adjust at (literally) light speed will soon change the face of many industries. This process has begun, and its march is inevitable.
The latest generations of Operation Management software need to be capable of integrating IoT, with smart devices having conduits in and out of software & systems (typically in API form). The best offerings are able to use new generations of devices as their abilities become apparent, without recourse to significant upgrade or reconfiguration.
Factory gates devices in the hands of warehouse personnel have already changed supply and logistics functions, and by extension of that type of functionality, patients leaving healthcare facilities with smart monitors (IoT in a different guise) lower hospital stay costs, and speed patients’ recoveries.
Here at Tech Wire Asia, there are four suppliers of the very latest Operations Management software & technology that we think that any organization – whatever its industry or vertical – needs to consider.
Of the companies featured here, Schneider Electric is possibly the one with the broadest reach across multiple industries, due in no small way to the effect that it’s indubitably the oldest concern covered here.
At nearly 200 years old, the company turns over around EUR25 billion (US$29.14 billion) each year and employs over 144,000 people. So, what’s the secret?
The French company’s joining with AVEVA has created a facility which provides engineering know-how with operations management, control applications, and asset performance optimization solutions.
The software allows the user to build a digital version of a plant. By using a “digital twin” of any facility, engineers can try out different configurations to find the most efficient operations. Once the dynamic simulation is built, the testing results begin to feed back based on what the engineers learn from the digital model. Entire facilities can actually be optimized before being built.
Right across industry, regulatory compliance is becoming more of a factor in technology choices, and Schneider’s experience, plus highly optimized operations, spell a level of consistency that does more than merely satisfy the strictures imposed on industry. Instead, complete system integration drives business-oriented goals, not just creates a governance box-ticking exercise.
From the company’s EcoStruxure products to third-party solution integration, the company creates the next generation of digital industry. If you want the gold standard in operations management solutions, give Schneider Electric a call.
SAP is another European heavyweight in the enterprise software marketplace, with its solutions found in organizations from the smallest up to globe-spanning multinationals.
While it does not offer an operations management solution per se, its multiple solutions cover every aspect of a business’s workings, from supply chain management to logistics, workforce scheduling, sales management and much, much more.
By optimizing every aspect of an organization’s workings, but under the unifying umbrella of SAP, businesses benefit from proven results from this ERP stalwart.
SAP implementations can be achieved through the company itself, or through a localized supplier, accredited by and approved of by SAP. Spreading the SAP install across all areas of the enterprise effectively empowers every division & department with a complete business operations management function, and the whole can be overseen and controlled by the company’s robust business intelligence and insight solutions.
For existing SAP users, further deployments which produce a broad operations management function is a no-brainer; there’s a solution to fit every size of business.
American company Infor offer full enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions which can be installed in-house, or more notably, as a complete cloud-based solution.
Because ERP has its challenges – notably the customization and bespoke nature of individual requirements – a cloud-based solution has always been seen as something of a Holy Grail of ERP solutions. SaaS is, by definition, a one-size-fits-all setup, but Infor has invested billions of dollars providing a cloud software platform that is customizable.
As discussed above, operations management covers just about every aspect of an enterprise – but the underlying impetus is always business-oriented. By deploying critical areas of Infor’s solutions (from the cloud or in-house) companies can unify their systems to drive business growth.
Infor’s cloud systems integrate legacy systems too – this is not a take-it-or-leave-it software suite. Organizations are free to mix and match, with Infor supplying specialist areas of operational improvements. The company envisages this approach especially in cloud deployments: many of its clients are skeptical about a so-called bespoke cloud offering until they see it for themselves!
However, the truth is that operation management solutions can be deployed on Infor infrastructure, and the required touchpoints of op management systems are all in the Infor family, from resource management to marketing/production symbiosis. This is a full package!
From household names like GlaxoSmithKline to smaller universities and educational institutions, the Operations Management solutions from Integrify create effective use of resources and efficient processes. These two elements produce the results most businesses and organizations seek: lowered costs, better sales, more satisfied customers and leaner operations.
Ops management solutions from Integrify come in the form of workflow management, business process management, approval management, enterprise resource planning and other areas best handled and optimized by technology.
Integrify sees its solutions sometimes replacing discreet legacy components in the enterprise’s software stack; once established, its unifying characteristics give an accurate end-to-end overview of the whole production process.
Oversight, coupled with deep business intelligence and powerful modeling algorithms (creating “what if” scenarios) mean that Integrity’s solutions can change the face of the modern organization.
Reducing manual labor, cutting out repetitious – and therefore problem-creating – routines, create real savings for enterprises. Being a true data-centric company, Integrify can let organizations utilize the main resource it may not realize it has – data – to leverage the best results.
*Some of the companies featured in this article are commercial partners of Tech Wire Asia
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