More on this subject that is near and dear to my heart. Matt Littlefield (@M_Littlefield) responded to my comment on his blog:
I have found when companies implement a “paperless manufacturing” system it is important not to just take a “paper-on-glass” approach. Or if such an approach is taken, that it is just a first step.
Often, if all a company does is automate their current business processes and doesn’t look to evolve and optimize processes, much of the potential benefit of these systems are left unrealized.
It sounds like you are more in the camp of using paperless manufacturing to evolve and optimize new best practices rather than just automating the past with “paper-on-glass”.
Yes, Matt. We are in that camp.
A customer of ours was asked what, if anything, they would have done differently with our system. Their response (paraphrasing)? “We would not have treated it as a replacement for our old system, we would have looked at what it could do, without considering the baggage of our old way of doing things.”
However, don’t sell ‘paper on glass’ short….
In the markets we support, the issue that, more often than not, will slow or stop the sales process is, “your demo looks great, but how do we get there?” That objection is not based solely on the rampant (and possibly justified) mistrust of software vendors. It’s also based on fear…
The typical fears:
- The implementation will take twice as long, cost twice as much AND not be what we expected;
- The time and effort required to ‘migrate’ our data and rewrite our instructions is a non-productive use of valuable manufacturing engineering resources;
- We don’t really KNOW what we want to accomplish with this implementation, and coming to an agreement with a diverse set of players will be difficult.
but the biggest fear is:
- It will be too ‘different’. The end users will reject it, and we’ll be worse off than we were before.
That’s where paper on glass comes in. What if the information required on the shop floor did not have to be recreated, reconstituted, reformatted? What if it could be used as-is? Then, the modernization task can be focused on the PROCESS instead of the CONTENT.
The benefits of starting with paper on glass?
- More rapid implementation
- A familiar look/feel to instructions
- Minimized training time
- Faster user acceptance
We have learned that, no matter how much time and effort is put into on-site assessments, technical specifications, implementation project details, there are two things that can’t be denied:
1) If it’s not accepted, it won’t be successful.
2) Things change. The process you defined months ago may not work today and will be tweaked, numerous times, over the life of the system.
Is paper on glass the solution? No, but paper on glass is the perfect ‘on-ramp’ to the paperless superhighway…