Today, more than ever, computer, mobile, consumer electronic, heavy machinery, networking, storage and printer manufacturers want to invest in their core strengths rather than manage their service contracts-related administrative operations. While these manufacturers grapple with future disruptions in their product and service portfolio, it is also very important that they quickly re-adapt their existing administrative operations to the digital way and be ready for future disruptions. Their administrative operations (quote creation, ordering, setting up contracts, managing entitlements, warranty, repair ordering, invoicing etc.) are bureaucratic, fragmented, legacy systems’ driven, highly manual, and follow fossilized SOPs.
In the current innovation-driven environment, smartphones and computer manufacturers are bracing for the onslaught of augmented reality from social networking giants, consumer electronics are no longer differentiated by the quality or make but by a rich user experience of its software and digital features, heavy machineries are being monitored and controlled by IoT sensors to predict failures, traditional printing majors are putting all their weight behind 3D-printing, storage manufacturers are being gobbled up by Cloud etc. In either trying to survive or lead the change; most of the monies and strategies are focused on • Increasing R&D – the next big ‘it’ • Cutting off excess fat – control the costs ‘it’ gobbles • Identifying opportunities for revenue lift – earns while ‘it’ burns The traditional way of cutting off excess weight has been outsourcing people and process to low cost locations and revenue lift tactics have mostly been restricted to cross-selling in customer facing roles. However, times have changed and these methods have become less effective. The need of the hour are new-age digitalized solutions that can be employed to address the emerging needs and challenges in this space.
Challenges and Digital Solutions
Manufacturing and high tech industries as a whole are witnessing some challenging trends across the service contract-related administrative operations. Following are some of the operational and business challenges and recommended solutions to address each, the digital way.
IT landscape is a galaxy of dying stars and huge geographical spread, leading to lack of visibility and control – The teams which do administrative operations are global and localized with varied and disparate IT systems leading to inefficiencies, outdated legacy processes and high cost maintenance. Complete overhaul of IT systems is an expensive and risky proposition, hence there is a need for non-intrusive and quick integration workflow solutions.
Solution: Instead of investing heavily on a complete IT overhaul, one should look at the option of implementing a business process management (BPM) suite which would sit as a wrapper on the IT systems and double up both as a workflow and case manager with advanced integration options. While this would enable execution and tracking of processes end to end, it would also bring complete operational visibility of the administration team from a service level perspective through visual dashboards and root cause analysis. With this robust suite in place, piecemeal modernization of IT landscape can be carried out, ensuring efficient and controllable administrative operations managed at a global level.
Old ways of working have fossilized the processes– It is important to first revisit the existing SOPs and identify wasteful activities and candidates for process improvement, for example, while setting up the service contract, one needs to meet GTS/RPL and other compliance requirements, but then for each change order, these steps are routinely repeated which leads to duplicate efforts.
Solution: It is important to equip the transformation team with a powerful visual capture tool, where you define one process template, compare it globally and converge towards a global standard template to identify wastes like the above example. It should capture details like roles, systems, steps, metrics, risks, tacit tricks or information, and many more for each sub-process and activity box, and manage all of these in project management style.