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Operations Managers Need Visibility to Oversee the Team

Operations managers wear a lot of hats. One big fedora they sport prominently is managing vendor and contract manufacturer lists. But as the world has become flatter—with an increase in outsourcing and globally dispersed teams—managing supply chains has become even more challenging.

With contract manufacturers scattered around the world in different time zones, you can bet that operations managers would love a centralized product development platform that better helped with answering their questions, supported superior collaboration and more efficiently handled build packages.

Nutanix’s Senior Vice President of Operations David Sangster outsources all the company’s manufacturing needs. “We use over 50 active suppliers including contract manufacturers, distributors and key technology partners,” said Sangster. “We also use a platform approach to product design and a “Configure to Order (CTO)” process to reduce SKU (stock keeping unit) proliferation and the need for additional engineering.”

Roost’s Vice President of Operations Jim Van Patten also has teams distributed globally. He’s constantly asking—and having to personally answer—rhetorical “what-if” questions, such as what are the pros and cons of packaging the product here versus China or Europe? What would be the cost? “Or what would happen if I created a partial product, kitted it in China, and then packaged it and shipped somewhere else?” asks Van Patten, “Those are the kinds of decisions that you make on a monthly basis as events change.”

Van Patten pays careful attention to how he manages his contract manufacturers and supply chain. “If I put all of my suppliers and sub-suppliers in China what does that mean if there’s some kind of geopolitical event that closes the borders for a week or if China decides to move most of its manufacturing to the interior, which it’s sort of in the process of doing now, or if I find my Chinese supplier actually has a silent partner that decides they’re going to take over most of their capacity and I have to wait to see what happens,” he says. “How do I mitigate that risk? Again, it’s an ongoing decision. It’s the stuff that keeps me up at night.”

Swan Valley Medical’s Chief Operating Officer Laurence Sampson has design and manufacturing operations in Denver with suppliers all over the country, including one overseas in Taiwan. Sampson began to realize that the company now desperately needed a better way to manage product information to facilitate synchronization across a globally dispersed supply chain.

Operations managers struggle with securely sharing product data that applies to both the exchange of information across supply chain teams as well as the transfer of data from their product lifecycle management (PLM) system to other business systems. And here’s the catch-22 for many operation managers: while they want efficient supply chain approval processes, they don’t always want to give their primary supply chain contact’s second and third teams access to their PLM system. In short, they like to protect their IP—the crown jewels.

Arena’s product development platform integrates people, data, processes and business systems. It provides product information for companies and their extended supply chain enterprise. Arena’s PLM solution helps organizations overcome the increased complexity and engineering challenges of developing new products for the global competitive markets.

All three operations managers turned to Arena’s cloud-based product development platform. Here’s why:

“I use Arena as a way of communicating the latest bill of materials (BOM) to our suppliers. All our suppliers have access. They can log in and get the information they need. Exchanging sensitive product information over email is deadly,” says Van Patten.

“We chose Arena because it had such an intuitive web interface that allows us to touch everyone in our supply chain and always provides current updates of documents,” said Sampson.

Sangster sums up best why a cloud-based product development platform is vital to managing contracts and vendors. “In today’s product development environment, the one thing you can be sure of is that, sooner or later, you will be partnering with folks well outside your time zone,” said Sangster. “Make sure your tool supports this global reality.”

If you’re like these operations managers and could use a product development platform, I know a company that can help. Contact Arena today.