Business Truth: a successful company provides products or services with a unique value proposition. One way to do this is by specializing in one particular area, or ‘vertical.’ Another way to do this is to provide a flexible solution that can work well for a variety of clients. This is true for my industry - automation and integration service providers working in the manufacturing space.
I have been considering what it takes to be strong at the latter approach.
What are the underlying principles that guide a firm to be good at a variety of solutions such as factory automation, test system development, and web handling, all under one roof?
Certainly on the surface there don't appear to be a lot of similarities between a test system capable of simulating downhole conditions for an oilfield with temperatures exceeding 300° and pressures of over 40,000 psi, a precision extrusion and converting system that manufactures asphalt shingles, or one that produces touchscreen sensors. A closer look reveals that success for these types of applications entails a rigorous scrutiny of all the customer requirements, deep subject matter expertise in material and equipment specification and selection, and painstaking attention to detail in project execution and management. Client participation in the oversight and deployment of such systems helps to assure that the desired outcomes are achieved on schedule and on budget. Where the client is absent, problems are more likely to occur, and having processes that encourage and foster close customer participation at the right level of engagement yields greater success.
What are the keys to deliver excellent outcomes in apparently diverse fields?
One way is to hire strategically and support a flexible marketing approach to optimize specific work aligned with the employees’ experience. The project work then continues to develop skill sets and processes that collect a comprehensive view of the business and technical requirements each specific solution seeks to address.
How can a supplier’s capabilities and outcomes be used to a manufacturing company’s advantage, given the unique challenges that production teams face now and in the future?
Variety and depth of experience allows a supplier to provide best-of-breed custom solutions comprised of a combination of off-the-shelf technology and individualized engineering guidance - deploying what truly are state of the art solutions. The supplier’s team communicates project lessons learned, both successes and challenges. These can then be applied to optimize future solutions. Working from a variety of applied experience supports selecting innovative approaches to help manufacturing clients meet the future with confidence.