Adopting the Right Approach
Manufacturers often rely on manual processes, paper-based systems, spreadsheets, or other point software solutions to manage their product development processes—from product design and sourcing of materials to production and delivery to customers. And as companies grow, they end up with a patchwork of disconnected solutions. There are many reasons why these solutions appeal to companies. For example, apps like Google Docs and Google Sheets are inexpensive and serve as easy tools that supply chain partners can use. Companies also turn to traditional solutions that most employees are accustomed to using like Microsoft Word and Excel, and they attempt to make these solutions fit their growing requirements.
The COVID-19 pandemic was the catalyst that led to supply chain disruptions globally. With a heavy reliance on just-in-time (JIT) and lean manufacturing models, coupled with the use of siloed point solutions, the perfect storm emerged to create issues getting raw materials, components, resources, and finished products to consumers. As workforces became more isolated, so too did the entire new product launch process.
To keep the lines of communication open and maintain productivity while shifting to a remote workforce, some companies quickly adopted cloud-based applications such as Zoom, Asana, Microsoft Teams, and other chat apps. Although these apps helped teams collaborate and share information—they still created silos. And because these methods of communication were not connected to the complete product record—they made it nearly impossible to identify the latest product design or track the continual changes that occurred daily, if not hourly, between internal teams and supply chain partners during new product development and introduction (NPDI).
So, what is a more suitable approach for product manufacturers looking to lessen the impact of pandemics, natural disasters, regional conflicts, and other supply chain disruptions?