Says Elliott George of Azzure IT…
The productivity puzzle is becoming a growing issue for politicians and business leaders alike, hence the numerous reports, consultations and strategies announced recently. The consensus seems to be that the UK is lagging far behind other nations. I believe mobile working is key to achieving the economic growth the UK needs.
The Government has described it as ‘the challenge of our times’ and stated that improving productivity is key to making Britain the ‘richest of all major economies’. The latest plan for increasing productivity focuses on vocational training, infrastructure investment and changes to the planning system.
While these may deliver results for society, what about individual businesses? What can manufacturers do to increase their productivity? After all, while the Chancellor might be interested in increasing the Treasury’s coffers, increased productivity has the benefit of boosting company profits too. It’s something we all need to prioritise, for one reason or another.
As a company that works daily with manufacturers, to improve their processes and gain efficiencies daily, there is one technological advancement that the manufacturing industry has been slow to embrace. And it is one that could quickly pay dividends when it comes to increased productivity and performance.
Mobile ERP technology has the power to transform the way companies do business, particularly within the manufacturing sector. As manufacturing processes become ever more complex to manage, technology has an increasingly important role to play in capturing valuable real-time data and turning that into information – that the business can use immediately to improve processes and results.
By its very nature, manufacturing processes often cover a large area, sometimes across multiple sites. Travelling back and forth between the shop floor and a computer to enter information or a worker having to walk across a large site to discuss something with a manager, is quite obviously an unproductive use of time.
Using smartphones, tablets and mobile apps can save companies huge amounts of time and money. Embracing mobile ERP technology means enabling people to get more done. Combined with effective ERP systems, mobile offers unparalleled opportunity for smarter working. So why aren’t more UK manufacturers leaping at the chance to exploit this technology?
It is certainly not through lack of interest. We regularly hear enthusiasm from manufacturers about slick processes within other industries, like retail distribution. Seeing high levels of automation and the benefits of mobile technology, within these other sectors, has many manufacturers asking ‘how can our business be like that?’
Manufacturers seem to understand the need to invest, but many still don’t. According, to the 2016 Annual Manufacturing Report, 71% of manufactures are planning to invest more in IT, with 60% saying investment in new technology was led by a need for improvements in productivity.
Our experience is the main challenge to overcome when introducing mobile technology, is helping manufacturers to appreciate the scale of the investment required to make it successful. There is no doubt that implementing new systems can be time consuming and incur capital costs to start with, but the returns on that investment can be liberating. The technology is improving all the time, which is making the process more straightforward.
The latest version of Microsoft Dynamics is built with mobile working in mind – providing both a smartphone and tablet interface. ERP software providers are constantly reviewing their products to ensure they work efficiently across a range of devices.
Companies that are early adopters of mobile technology, perhaps unsurprisingly, are often very busy and under pressure. Companies often mobility to help streamline and improve processes, when they’re almost at breaking point. Of course, this is a high-pressure time to start implementing a brand-new way of working. Having the foresight to adopt mobile technology before it becomes a ‘mainstream’ enables companies to get one step ahead of their competition and provides a springboard for further growth.
The key to finding out how mobile technology might be able to improve efficiency in any business is to start asking questions:
– Talk to the staff on the shop floor
– Find out if there are processes they think could be done more effectively
– Ask how long they spend filling in paperwork and ask if there could be a better way
– Question how well the different departments are communicating, and if improvements made
The benefits of mobile technology are simply too great for us to ignore. As a nation, if we could match the productivity rate of the US, GDP would increase by 31% – the equivalent to £21,000 for every UK household.