The Best Solution Approaches for Manufacturing Operations Management

MES integration strategiesNavigating the complex landscape of expected process improvements, functional requirements, the realities of software capabilities, integration with your IT landscape, and best practices can be quite daunting. There's a lot at stake—the competitiveness of your company and the future of careers could be on the line.

Whether you're looking to implement a focused solution to assist your company in the area of quality management, to add better real-time visibility to performance with the addition of a manufacturing intelligence system, or to implement a fully blown Manufacturing Execution System (MES) that covers a wide range of manufacturing support functions, what are some of the leading approaches being taken as part of these software selections and solution implementations?

In the 2013-2014 LNS Research MOM survey, approximately 325 manufacturing professionals shared their preferences on how they leverage internal resources, systems integrators and consultants, and software suppliers to support their manufacturing improvement initiatives. We’d like to share what we see happening in the marketplace in this regard, along with our insights on why these different approaches are being utilized and when each of them may be the best choice for a given situation.

What Approaches Are Being Taken to Select the Right MOM Software?

manufacturing operations management strategy

In the survey, when we asked manufacturers about their preferred approaches to making their software selection, we wanted to understand the influence of the software vendors and the system integrators/implementers. We can see that manufacturing companies put a lot of emphasis on ensuring that the right software is selected.

In nearly equal proportion, software is selected in combination with the integrator (44% of respondents) or the software is selected first and a capable integrator selection follows (43% of respondents). This is not to diminish in any way the importance of selecting the right system integrator for overall success. It just shows that getting the software selection right is of primary concern.

Only 13% of the respondents took the approach of selecting the systems integrator first and had the integrator recommend the best software for the situation. It’s not to say that this is a bad approach. In fact, LNS Research can see situations whereby a small or mid-sized manufacturing company does not have the expertise or resources to properly go through the software evaluation process, and instead they use a trusted system integrator to take the lead in this area.

It’s also important to note that systems integrators are playing a key influencing role in the software selection process in the 44% cases where software and integrators are selected together. At the end of the day, the software and the implementation are both critically important to the success of these projects, and as the chart below shows, it’s very important that the chosen integrator has a proven track record with the chosen MOM software.

What Criteria Is Being Used to Select the Right Integration Services Provider?

MES criteria

The survey allowed participants to select from a multiple-choice list of criteria, and allowed the selection of their top three. We can see that the most selected criteria were having expertise in the specific manufacturing industry (selected 37% of the time), expertise in the chosen software (36% of the time), and having confidence in the integrator’s implementation methodology (34% of the time). Other considerations like costs, time, etc., are shown above. We are confident that we presented the most important criteria, given that Other was only selected 10% of the time.

Who Is Ultimately Held Accountable for Success?

Now that we understand how companies are making their software and integration services selections, at the end of the day, who do they hold accountable for success?

MES implementation strategy

We asked these same manufacturing professionals about how they prefer to approach the responsibility for the overall MOM solution, and the results were clear. Even when there are outside vendor resources being brought to bear, the leading approach (46%) was for the internal project team to take the lead and accountability for success. LNS Research sees this as a best practice for companies if they have the talent and resources to pull it off. There is nothing like having your own team take the ultimate responsibility, given they need to ensure success not only for the initial implementation but also to ensure sustainable success over the lifecycle.

We fully understand that not every company is in a position to do this, therefore 28% having independent integrators take the lead, and 26% having the implementation team from the software vendor take the lead can make perfect sense. Some companies prefer or have trust in the independent voice and expertise of an independent system integrator. Others prefer to have one point of contact with the software vendor to avoid finger pointing between whether issues are software- or integration-related. We see both of these two as valid approaches, based on the strength of relationships that can exist with a given integrator or software vendor.

Where Can I Get More Help With Choosing the Right MOM Software?

Given the highest importance of getting the software selection right, LNS Research invites you to check out our MOM Solution Selection Guide (below). The guide provides an overview of the MOM vendor landscape based on criteria such as specific functionalities and modules, company sizes served, geographic footprint, industry strengths, time to solution value, and others. The Guide also breaks down each vendor's core attributes by current and emerging strengths and full coverage areas.

Manufacturing Operations Management Solution Selection Guide Download

All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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