How to Update Your Manufacturing Back Office
Manufacturing—an industry with a rich history of progress and growth—has found itself in a contrary situation. In the past, manufacturing companies drove change for the rest of the world, through innovations like the steam engine and assembly line production. These things encouraged impressive growth, which, in turn, adapted the way that people in most first-world countries conduct their lives.
The more recent digital revolutions, however, have created a strange gap between manufacturing efforts. Many manufacturing companies are unused to following change rather than driving it. They have become stuck in time, handling their back-office procedures manually or using multiple, disjointed platforms. The industry doesn’t shift quickly—change only happens when there’s no other way forward. As such, their back offices have generally fallen behind other industries in advancement.
A McKinsey 2019 study shows that, while the manufacturing industry isn’t trailing behind by too much, there’s room to digitalize. Many accounting, finance, and shared service leaders in this line of work are already aware that change is needed. They already know that digitalizing their processes would make them more competitive. The holdup more often comes from fear of disrupting their teams or losing momentum in a very competitive global market.
Create a smooth transition
While it’s tempting to dive in headfirst to get a back-office solution underway immediately, this is the best process for taking the next step in your company’s digitization journey. Though these steps feel obvious, it can be easy to lose sight of them in your excitement to initiate positive changes.
1. Build a business case.
Gather and survey the stakeholders in your team. Discuss their current processes and where they encounter blocks to their workflow. Write down their pain points and, most importantly, brainstorm how those challenges might be alleviated. Once you’ve got the information you need, prioritize the list and determine the depth of change each item would require.
Creating a plan will encourage participation from your company’s teams. A team that is encouraged to contribute to a process change is more willing to handle speedbumps than a team forced into it. Find the “office heroes” who can advocate changes and get the rest of the group thinking of ways their daily workload could be made easier.
2. Do your research.
If you’re reading this now, chances are you’re already at this stage. If you’ve just realized that you haven’t made a plan yet, take some time—a week or two—to go back to step one and get your team on board by determining their pain points.
Once you have those, start researching various ePayment solutions. Look up the big hitters, and some smaller solutions as well. Narrow down to two or three solutions by determining whether their offerings fit in well with your teams’ needs, based on your plan. Consider how each solution would weave your processes together and simplify them.
3. Ask questions.
Once you’ve narrowed down to two or three solutions, reach out to those companies and ask questions that will guide your final decision. Let them know your vision for your company. Find a solution that values the time and effort it takes to implement long-awaited, fundamental changes. If time truly is a roadblock for your company, see if you can negotiate a shorter implementation time. Consider how their solution will plug into your process. Also consider other aspects, such as their security offerings, support processes, and revenue-generating opportunities.
Taking the first steps to digitize your process can be daunting. Structuring a plan and following through with it can turn a monumental overhaul into a simple switch, making your company more competitive and agile in a shifting market.