Interfacing Between Software & Consulting in Manufacturing

By guest author: Oliver North (Pollen Consulting Group)


Director of Pollen Technology Oliver North shares insights on what is required for a successful technology implementation and how he believes the balance of tech & consulting is the key to unlocking business capacity.


The progression of software technology in the last decade to support manufacturing and supply chain businesses is impressive.


Innovation, the cost of development and access to wider toolkits has delivered a plethora of interesting, powerful and cost-effective software solutions to be harnessed.


Where most businesses have an aspirational 5-10 year technology development roadmap, no doubt ending in an autonomous, self-learning, fully integrated supply chain, the really exciting technology is available today.


It has potential to add significant value to the bottom line and will ensure progress towards the future state.


So, what is required for successful implementation and how do we use consulting to unlock this capacity?


At Pollen we believe a successful implementation requires 3 key areas of focus tailored to each individual business: people, process and technology.


People:

Who are the users and benefactors of the technology? What are the roles and responsibilities for the fully embedded solution?


Process:

What are the processes that need to be changed or designed and implemented to make the most of the technological solution? How does the technology interface with established business processes such as S&OP?


Technology:

What is the right technology for your business to solve a specific pain point?


In a similar vein, investment in technology is no different than physical assets; there must be a clearly defined ROI.


Tangible improvements to a businesses’ bottom line need to be balanced against the cost of implementation. For example, access to accurate available information is only valuable to a business if it leads to implemented improvements driving cost reduction of profitability.


Role of Consulting in Technology


I believe that in the current world, balancing the use of technology and a consulting mindset is a powerful combination.


Generally, software houses have great products, but potentially lack the core insights of how specific businesses operate. Conversely, consultancies have a deep knowledge of the business processes and intricacies, however, tend to develop in-house bespoke software with has a significant price tag.


Small to medium-sized businesses should be looking for the optimal blend.


As an example, software can dramatically reduce the time required for a consultancy to complete a detailed analysis by providing accurate information upfront. On the other hand, consulting knowledge can significantly reduce software implementation costs through understanding the critical information required, limiting the data complexity to generate the same insights.


The sweet spot should be to leverage the best of both worlds. Once a pain point and a potential software solution has been identified, the savvy business will look to both software houses and consultancies.


The best software is developed by businesses specifically tailored to that end. However, to ensure that a ROI is generated, team capability developed, and the solution is embedded into business as usual, a consulting skillset should be employed for implementing the software. Thus the output of a software implementation project would include a highly capable team, a robust process with the software at the heart of it and an implementation roadmap leveraging insights from the new technology into tangible deliverables with accurate profit improvement understanding.


In my opinion, the winning combination within a highly competitive market with incredible products will be the ability to marry a powerful software solution with a deep understanding of how it will drive value within specific businesses. This approach will ultimately deliver significant ROI and awaken a stronger appetite for businesses to leverage powerful technology solutions.


About Author

Starting his career as a Chartered Mechanical Engineer, Oliver North moved to Sydney to leap into FMCG consultancy at Pollen where he developed a future-facing consulting style, solving business critical problems and adding significant value to supply chains. It was here that Oliver launched Pollen Technology; with a vision to cut through the hype around Industry 4.0 and lead innovation by challenging traditional business models. The Pollen tech team have developed significant capability in Digital Twin technology which builds a parallel reality of supply chain processes. This simulation pushes systems & processes to the limit helping with decision analytics without risking resources, time and cost.


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