Most companies recognise that being able to respond quickly and appropriately to change is vital to their success, but even more struggle to achieve the flexibility they need.
Whether dealing with new industry regulation or legislation, sudden changes in commodity prices, or even large one-off customer requests, you need core enterprise software that makes change possible.
What are the key considerations for improving your operational flexibility?
Responding to new, changing or variable customer demands
Changes in customer expectations mean more complexity and diversity than ever. This leads to more highly-engineered customised products, on top of make-to-stock and other to-order business models and manufacturing modes like configure-to-order. Businesses need to cater to all of these freely and thoroughly in real time.
So, mixed-mode manufacturing has become the norm. But few businesses have enterprise software flexible enough to manage changing modes, or mixing modes as quickly as they need.
Deploying and managing your assets and staff effectively
Businesses must provide excellent customer service and produce world-class products, while constantly improving efficiency and reducing costs. There is then a delicate balance between running lean, with very few supply chain, personnel, or capital asset resources, and maintaining the capacity to absorb change.
Which means you need to be able to redeploy your resources quickly, in order to manage fluctuations in demand, re-allocate inventory across various products, and manage stock and staff across multiple locations and divisions.
Adding new capabilities when you need them
If your organisation is growing, you will probably need to manage new lines of business, countries or regions, along with associated tax schemas, regulations, languages, units of measure, distribution models and local business practices. If adding or extending your business’s capabilities is a laborious process that disrupts operations, it’s likely that the cost will outweigh any benefits.
Modular enterprise software, constructed of discrete components designed to work together, is a requirement for flexibility. Many vendors want to sell and install as much software functionality up-front as possible. It is far less disruptive to buy and implement incrementally, adding functionality as needed and realising a number of smaller go-lives with associated returns on investment.
Tailoring your business tools and processes
Being able to tailor which data is presented to users, and how it is presented, matters. It affects everything from staff productivity to internal data quality, and even profit and revenue growth. Two essential aspects of enterprise software customisation may often be overlooked: changing your processes, and changing your interfaces.
You should be able to implement the right modules for your business processes, however they change. You need to know that they will work seamlessly with your existing system. Not all enterprise software is designed this way, which could mean changing from a systems integration process to change point-to-point integrations, impeding your flexibility.
The interfaces need to be consistent, usable, and easy to customise – so your daily working environment fits your employees’ need. To maximise end-user productivity, that flexibility needs to be available for mobile devices too.
Make change happen fast
Improving your operational flexibility is vital for true business agility. It means you can take the right action faster to grasp new opportunities or to reduce the impact of unexpected events. Become a truly flexible business.