There’s a renaissance taking place, but this one isn’t necessarily focused on the revival of art, literature and learning; it’s the revival of manufacturing and their supply chains. Many industries are expanding due to continued consumer demand, lower energy costs and other factors, resulting in manufacturing employment reaching its highest level in six years.
A negative side effect of this positive news is that manufacturers are experiencing a skilled labor shortage, leading them to look for ways to improve efficiencies and maximize their workforces – without placing too high a demand on workers, giving them reason to go elsewhere.
Fortunately, technology can play a role in providing greater worker satisfaction, creating efficiencies, improving compliance and documentation, and supporting many LEAN initiatives that have been adopted in the manufacturing sector. One such technology solution is an Enterprise Content Management system (ECM). Here are ways it can benefit manufacturers and help them gain a competitive advantage.
1. Help Ensure Compliance
An ECM solution allows an organization to track and manage documents digitally, storing them in a secure, organized and easily searchable repository. The functionality of the system streamlines workflows and helps ease the burden of compliance with regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and others.
Enterprises that develop internal policies and processes requiring adherence also benefit from the functionality of an ECM solution. A company’s unique HR policies or audit procedures, for example, can be stored and monitored, and certifications and required training — along with test results — can be tracked. Alerts can be set up to send notifications of expiration dates to remind individuals when it’s time to renew or obtain further training.
Security concerns over confidential materials can be overcome by implementing permission-based access to information such as nondisclosure agreements, patents, copyrights and more, helping ensure compliance regarding sensitive data.
2. Improve Collaboration and the Product Development Process
The time it takes for a product to go from concept to completion can sometimes take years, and the documentation, collaboration, approvals and associated data that’s compiled during that time is extensive. Each phase of the product development process must be captured in detail, and each department must have access to information to efficiently move from one phase to the next.
Representatives from every area of a manufacturing facility need to be connected and informed in order to ensure quality and timely deliverables — from engineering, IT and R&D, to finance, production, inventory, compliance and marketing. With ECM, each participant can arrive in an employee’s inbox when a decision is needed so that he or she can know the roles and responsibilities, anticipate capacity and avoid potential roadblocks. The system also manages the vast amount of documentation associated with projects and can include various functions such as approvals, retrieval, workflows, security and more.
Many manufacturers have adopted LEAN or Agile practices to minimize waste, boost production, improve quality and increase worker satisfaction. The functionality offered by an ECM system aligns itself perfectly with these initiatives by encouraging collaboration and creating transparency across departments.
3. Manage Technical Documents
Complex systems require complex documentation, and managing the variety of associated operational checklists, instruction manuals and maintenance bulletins can get complicated, especially when systems are customizable or require modifications over time. An ECM solution can trigger dynamic rules-based retrieval of these types of information based on a unique system’s requirements or on individual customer needs. Secure access to the repository helps properly manage technical documentation and distribute it appropriately.
4. Improve Worker Satisfaction
Equipping your employees with the tools they need to effectively and efficiently perform their duties is a key to worker satisfaction and can have a direct impact on worker retention. Studies show that an increase in job satisfaction is directly related to productivity — when workers feel like they’re productive and are doing valuable work — not just pushing paper — they have a sense of accomplishment, they’re happier, and an ECM system is a tool that can help. With the skilled labor shortage being a major challenge for manufacturers, retaining good employees is critical.
A robust ECM solution is being relied upon by thousands of forward-thinking manufacturing facilities to streamline operations, improve collaboration, increase productivity, improve product quality and scale their businesses. To learn more about the functionality and benefits of implementing an ECM solution at your company, reach out to the experts at the Gordon Flesch Company for a free, no-obligation consultation. We’re here to help.