Three Strategic Factors to Consider When Choosing Enterprise Software in Manufacturing
Updated: Apr 20
What's Faster Horse or Automobile?
Who you choose to do business with says a lot about how you feel about your business. But it also reveals how you generally do business.
While below you will see three different factors that become a filter with which to view your business, it really boils down to which game you're playing: The finite one or the infinite one.
Finite games are won when there is a clear winner and the purpose is to win daily. These games are usually played like Top Trumps cards games where the card with the higher stat wins. Infinite games on the other hand are played with the intention of playing the game longer and better. A really great book to learn about this is James Carse et al's Finite and Infinite Games
In the manufacturing business that means either looking at your company as someone that makes and supplies parts and products cheaper than the competition or as someone who pushes the boundaries of the conventional and to create 10X improvements in the market's status quo. The easiest way to tell is to see where you fall on the scale in the criteria below.
1. Prioritize Sales or Customer Success
This is where most people would argue, "Everyone will say that they prioritize customer success to appear genuine." Partly true. Businesses that make sales a priority will speak only to cost as the KPI. Among them, the better companies will focus on the bottom-line to appeal to the customers who are easily seduced by numbers. But facts and figures are only part of the reason people make key decisions in life or business.
“You are what you do repeatedly. So your excellence isn’t an act, it’s a habit.”
Success isn't something that's a one-step stew. Even a stew isn't one-step. You can tell right away when someone is targeting customer success when they are able to pick up on the habits that you as a business engage in and are able to speak to you about improving those habits with their solutions. When speaking to businesses you're selling to or buying from, if the discussion solely rests on KPIs and numbers, then the overall effectiveness of that relationship is automatically constrained. Instead when that discussion focuses on the habits of the customer that are helping or hindering their success, you have now entered the twilight zone. Relationships that start off talking about successful habits before buying are those that are destined for long-term success. Good habits, you see?
2. Purchase or Investment
When considering software or generally tools in your company for even the simplest tasks like managing customer requirements, projects, or just simply communication software like Skype or Google hangouts: how you view that choice is a key indicator on if you are invested in your company for its long-term sustainability and success. Are you anticipating future growth and making choices to accommodate that growth? Or are you simply choosing the tools that solve the problem right now?
Procurement, small or large, can be looked at as a purchase to solve a problem and win the battle of the day or get a competitive edge until the opponent buys a bigger machine. Or you can see it as an investment that ensures the longevity of your ability to compete and innovate. Looking for ROI to do so is essential, but not just immediate present value returns, but also long-term returns that might not just appear as savings or gains on a balance sheet. The best investors look at stocks not as a way to increase their immediate cash-on-hand, but as part of an industrial-grade strategy that helps certain markets over others. If you can be that strategic with money, why not with software?
3. Feature or Future
Finally, the fundamental view people have of enterprise software is through the lens of a consumer. Everything we buy is features and those who play the finite game of feature vs. feature will be forever locked in the T-Rex vs Indominus Rex battle for supremacy. The bigger dinosaur-of-the-day wins.
When in the market for enterprise software, considering features to ensure that all your basic needs are being met is critical: no doubt. But most software can do that today. No software developer has enough of a monopoly on the market that you are subject to only their products. In that case you must ask yourself, "Are they just a bunch of features in a box, or are they hedging towards a particular strategy that is in line with what I would do?"
In conclusion, the real question comes to you as a business trying to make a mark in your market. Are you choosing to win by prioritizing sales or your customer's success? Are you viewing your tools as purchases or investments? Are you winning over your customers by your list of features or your vision of the future? And ultimately: Are you doing business with vendors or strategic partners?
Enhancing value streams in your company requires that you go through your operations with a fine-tooth comb: Reducing non-value added activities is the key step in identifying where you stand and how far you need to go to meet your goals. Check out our free E-Book on how to identify the 7 Key Wastes in your business to take the first step toward continuous improvement.