The Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA.org) and LNS Research recently released their biannual “Analytics That Matter” survey results, titled “Driving Real Results with Industrial Analytics.” It is full of insights into the value and advantages gained by industry leaders from investing in analytics technologies and implementation recommended approaches. The report from MESA and LNS shows that leaders in applying analytics are significantly outpacing followers with their ability to make better decisions faster and with greater agility.
If your organization is hesitating to make investments in improving manufacturing analytics, the results of the MESA and LNS research highlight the value to be gained from these technologies.
Survey respondents noted that the top three drivers of their investment in analytics were reducing costs, improving profitability, and risk management. These are issues in which finance should be providing advice and guidance.
Companies identified in the survey as analytics leaders focused on pushing the benefits of the analytics “down the organization” to empower production workers and supervisors to become more efficient and effective on the factory floor and make data empowered decisions that improve quality and reduce costs. “Leaders” in the use of analytics were almost 300% more likely than followers to build fully integrated teams of data scientists and manufacturing personnel to identify problems and arrive at solutions. Analytics “followers,” on the other hand, typically maintained separate organizations for data scientists and manufacturing personnel. Leaders also provide data analytics training widely across the organization to “build an army of citizen data scientists” capable of improving operations and using decision support information more effectively.
Interestingly, leading companies did not have manufacturing teams leading their analytics initiatives. Instead, they want their manufacturing personnel focused on getting product out the door.
Manufacturing team members were actively engaged in these analytics initiatives, but support functions such as quality, safety, and maintenance were the ones leading the projects. Followers tended to have plant managers, manufacturing/operations, or operations technology teams responsible for leading analytics initiatives, which tends to slow the progress of analytics initiatives.
While data quality and technology issues were the most frequently listed as causing problems for analytics initiatives, the bigger issue was “gathering buy-in from operations, business, and plant level personnel” closest to a root cause. The study showed that analytics leaders looked at their initiatives as people, process, and technology challenges and applied equal resources and effort to support each of the three dimensions.
What finance can do
Manufacturing finance staffs can facilitate and help create the organizational will and capability needed to make the investments in analytics and modernization. Finance needs to serve as a business partner with manufacturing, IT, and value support functions to rapidly identify and quantify the business benefits that can be gained. Analytics benefits can range from improving the ability to track small changes on the factory floor to providing insights to reconfigure customer, production, or logistics processes for greater efficiency and customer satisfaction. All of which can result in significant financial gains for the business.
Finance can also help make new improvement projects more understandable to senior organizational leadership, allowing project leadership to focus on innovation, implementation, and achieving results rather than continuously justifying and re-justifying their expenses, funding needs, and proving the benefits they are creating.