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3 Major IT Issues Faced by Manufacturing Companies – And How You Solve Them

August 7, 2018
John Lawler


You run a manufacturing operation – so you rely on IT for almost everything. But today it’s not just the machines doing the work – you need to be able to manage the machines that run the machines. One weak link in the chain, and the whole system fails.

Between the management of multiple locations, sharing data across the entire organization, and staying focused on the production process, you have a daunting task.

Common sense would dictate, “Well since manufacturing is the life blood of our organizations, it should be funded properly.” Unfortunately, many companies have underfunded their efforts in this area. and run up against preventable issues. Here are some issues we often see.

  1. When the Manufacturing industry was hit hard in the late 2000’s, it lead to an increase of offshored capacity. With limited funds over the past decade, many organizations have essentially frozen in time. For many companies, there has been minimal investment in updating systems and integration capabilities just when the technology is advancing the fastest and when they should be investing – not saving. Today if you’re not advancing, you’re falling behind.
  2. Today’s modern manufacturing equipment provides complex IOT capabilities, but many companies are not positioned to leverage these innovative capabilities. If your infrastructure is outdated, your ROI potential can be limited. So once again, while you maintain your current spend, your competitors are investing and thriving in advancements.
  3. Meanwhile, customers are expecting more visibility and transparency into real-time status, especially around order status, shipping delays, and more. Companies that can provide this visibility are gaining market share, but without having a robust and modern infrastructure to build upon, you’re going to miss out on these customer growth opportunities.

Solutions: How to leverage a Managed Service model to advance your manufacturing business

Fortunately, there are some forward thinking companies in the Managed Services industry that have listened to customer complaints, and evolved to more of a model that works for you. Here are a couple of factors for you to pay attention to while evaluating a new IT investment.

  1. Many companies that have purchased professional services in the past are accustomed to an outdated cost structure of either “Fixed-Fee” or “Time and Materials.” However, today’s more sophisticated buyers are concerned about any lack of clearly outlined, specific deliverables detailed in the SOW. Often, internal finance and procurement stakeholders who don’t truly understand IT can be the biggest challengers to the model. But we think you can use this to your advantage if you know how to approach it properly, with a partner who respects the process. In fact, the people throwing up the roadblocks are not asking for anything unreasonable – they just want some assurance that the money won’t be wasted. That’s why we implement an Agile delivery methodology with transparency at every step. Then, we set checkpoints at Sprint 0 and 30-60-90 day marks to ensure that velocity trends are being met. The result is that stakeholder expectations can be set & met correctly, and those who manage the budgets feel relief that they are part of a process where they can see incremental results, not just blindly writing a check and fearing they’ll be asked for more money later to finish the project.
  2. Whether you are a CTO, Technical Director, Application Portfolio Director, or other manager, there’s no way that you could anticipate 100% what you’d need on your team today, when you built that last org chart a year ago. So as a manufacturing company, you already have a solid in-house IT staff, but need to balance where to outsource some unexpected IT functions. When is the right time to do this? Where are your gaps? What skill sets are missing from you team because you never had the budget to bring them on board? We can help guide you through the process.
  3. Managed services now can work in a variety of ways, and we want to be flexible and augment, not replace your team. Either we can deliver expertise in areas where your staff isn’t fluent, or we can provide additional support in areas where legacy systems require the knowledge of your long-time staffers with years of tribal knowledge and experience. Often, on maintenance projects that your IT team sees as an unexciting burden, we can step in and do the difficult, time-consuming, in the weeds work, while your internal team focuses on projects that grow your revenue.


In many ways, we’ve never seen the kind of technical opportunities that Manufacturing firms can leverage for increased efficiency, improved customer happiness, and lower costs. But these advances can’t be built on the back of a broken IT foundation.

By combining an Agile Development program with a transparent Managed Services philosophy, you can bring your company up to speed, without the fear of a capital expenditure that could go to waste if not managed properly.

We’d love to share more insights about how to bring an affordable Managed Service model to your organization. Let us know and we’ll provide a free hour of consultation.