Addressing Top 5 Manufacturing challenges using Office 365 and SharePoint

Now more than ever, the way we utilise technology can enable businesses to grow more successfully.
The fact is, businesses today are no longer fixed to an office environment. Many, provide or require flexibility within their operating hours and locations, in order to deliver what is needed.

Your employee’s value flexible work environments that support real-time collaboration and remote access, so that they can gain entree to all the information they need to get the job done. Yet at the same time, you need peace of mind that your business data is protected wherever it goes.

Technologies designed for a cloud-first, mobile-first world can empower a modern workforce. They can enable your team to share documents; edit files (simultaneously), and gain instant access to company networks from various different devices and locations.

With the right cloud solution, you can foster team connections to ensure your staff stays productive and efficient. Similarly, choose wisely and you can feel certain that your business data and devices will remain safeguarded against modern threats – EVEN outside the office.

Most organisations face major challenges. From increasing productivity, to managing an overload of complex information, to making teams work together; these difficulties can be hard to overcome. However, for those within the Manufacturing business they can become even more augmented.Here at Toolagen, we understand the modern Business and specialise in helping them to utilise Microsoft technology – like SharePoint and 365 – so you are equipped with the solutions you need to boost productivity across your business.

Scenario 1: Reduce Cycle Times of Approvals & Automate Advanced Business Processes

Expedite stock transfer approvals, purchase requisitions, compensation methods and more.

Manual processes can consume hours of productive time during handoffs and rejections. With Microsoft SharePoint, you’ll be able to alter and automatise your business processes – using built-in work flow capabilities – therefore eliminating waste associated with the manual handling of information. Notifications can also be used to ensure that relevant parties are fully aware of activities and their progress.

Take the following example: Digitisation of business forms can help build and validate processes ensuring the quality of business information.  Correctly implemented this improves the flow of information and removes errors.

But that is not all…

Companies can use SharePoint to help automate manual processes such as stock transfer approval; purchase requisitions; vendor/customer setup; item setup and expense compensations; thereby helping to release resources and allow businesses to focus on their core activities.

Scenario 2: Paperless Back Office and Shop Floor Document Management Systems

Manage policies, contracts work orders and compliance records with efficiency.

SharePoint’s document management capabilities can facilitate the maintenance of vendor/customer contract documents; product histories, technical documentation and instrumentation controls; thereby eliminating the expense – and reliance – on manual work.

Using out-of-the-box connectors, ERP/CRM can be integrated with SharePoint to create document management capabilities that are often found lacking.

Whereas, the information itself resides in ERP/CRM; supporting documents like policies/procedures, contracts, work orders and compliance records, exist in SharePoint. These supporting documents are ruled by robust document management policies like: versioning, retention, disposition and record declaration.

SharePoint can also be used as a platform to link planning, administrative systems, and also the workplace.

Scenario 3: Streamline Information Flow – Avoid Delays and Reduce Task Closure Time

Information Management is key for on time delivery and dispute resolution.

Overdue – whether in production scenarios or on payment fronts – can adversely affect cash flows and disrupt client/vendor relationships. Likewise, follow-up and co-ordination can have a major impact on organisational productivity.

SharePoint can simplify these bottlenecks by easing the tracking of items through to closure. Examples of potential bottlenecks, include: overdue invoices, disputed POs, and shipping issues.

By configuring business logic in SharePoint, the required supporting documents can easily be accessed, thus reducing closure time and duplication of effort.

Similarly SharePoint can be used to properly route information in a multi-step design and manufacturing process to ensure that the right people are engaged with the right information at the right time.

Scenario 4: Business Intelligence – Calculated Decision Making Using Real Time Information

Forecast demands, determine trends, manage production planning, and optimise inventory levels.

Office 365 contains a feature-rich BI module called Power BI that provides self-service BI capabilities out-of-the-box. Power BI’s ability to integrate with a flexible set of applications can be leveraged to consolidate knowledge from disparate systems, triggering actionable insights and encourage informed decision making. It can even give front-end input to a master production planning systems to optimise inventory planning.

Similarly, it can be leveraged to correlate production data; warehouse data (inventory current volume), and procurement (order placed and lead-time) to spot things which could result in production lag.

Instead of scanning through loads of data to find discrepancies; staff can save time and instantly benefit from actionable insights using Power BI’s self-service BI capability.

Scenario 5: Unified Collaboration Platform for Cross-Functional Teams

Eliminate silos and repetition of common errors in order to collaborate effectively in a complex workflow.

Certain processes like design and quality need various stakeholders to work together and collaborate. Without a proper platform, haphazard communication can cause duplicity, misalignment, repeat of common errors, and centralised/restricted distribution of information. Office 365 can offer a centralised platform, whereby staff from dispersed geographic locations (or cross-functional teams) can collaborate effectively during any phase.

Tangible benefits can be achieved with SharePoint, Yammer, Teams and Office 365 Groups when it is integrated in your work process to create a platform for collaborative processing. This can range from conceptual design, to analysis, to design modelling, to drafting /documentation, to machining. With its help, you can achieve collaboration with minimal end-user efforts and IT involvement as SharePoint allows effective cooperation.

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