Over the last few months, I have gain a greater appreciation for the role that an IT division plays in a company. It use to be that IT was there to make sure the servers were running and all the software applications were working. Not a small task by any means. There is a lot of building, testing and monitoring that has to go on to accomplish this.
In today’s technology age, a lot more has been added to their plate. With the explosion of wireless technology and cell phones there is a lot more to consider. There is more security exposure through cloud computing and mobile transactions.
Most companies are trying to utilize apps on a tablet or smartphone. It isn’t as simple as building an app. What is security around the app? How do you make the app available? iTunes? Other methods? Are you accepting customer data from the app like credit card information? What is the security compliance to keep that information safe?
It really is amazing all the added responsibility the new technologies have given an IT division in a company.
While all the background work may not be value added to the customer, it is necessary in order to deliver the value to the customer. We must be able to provide the security and app in the most efficient manner.
Are there things you have seen that has increased IT responsibilities in your company?
If you are a regular reader of Beyond Lean, you may know that my wife has her own small business. It is just her and I. She runs the business 24/7 and I help where I can on nights and weekends.
Both of us have learned about a wide range of business aspects over the last couple of years from her small business. My wife has a background in marketing, but has learned a lot about IT and web design, materials, costing, production of a consistent product, using data to determine what the customers like and a lot more.
I have been working quite a bit with display booth setup and teardown (quick changeovers), preparing raw materials for usage and investment decisions.
When owning and running a small business a person can see everything from end-to-end. How a packaging decision can affect sales? How does shelf life of a product have an effect on the quality? How do certain ingredients react when mixing for production? Do they cause immediate quality issues? Do they cause quality issues over time?
In our experience, we have seen how lean thinking can be more natural for a small business. There is more of a concern about inventory and cash on hand, so there are many decisions that go into building to stock or building to order. Using visual management to make things easier to see when work needs to be done or not. I have some examples from my wife’s business that I will post at a later date as well as examples I have posted in the past.
I have learned numerous things from working with my wife in her small business that I carry on to my other job as lessons to apply.
Owning a small business is very hard work. You have to learn about things that don’t necessarily interest you, but if you want to be successful you have to get it done. In the end, it can be very rewarding and extremely educational.
The other day I was listening to a speaker discuss manufacturing jobs in the the U.S. The speaker hit on a reason why there are fewer and fewer people with the job skills needed for the manufacturing shop floor. The reason was employer paid training is being cut.
Manufacturing has a lot of technical based jobs. People need to run equipment and know about machinery in most industries today. In order to get training and stay up-to-date on the latest technical training, the employers pay for people to go to training.
In the past, this wasn’t an issue. Employers were happy to pay for the training. They expected people to be with the company for a very long time, so it was an investment in the employee. Today, the expectation that a person will stick with a company for a long time isn’t accurate. I think of myself. The automotive company I worked for paid for me to get a lot of training on problem solving skills and techniques and some in lean, but as soon as my growth potential topped out I left the company. That was within a year of completing my training. The plant manager was upset but he was the one that told me my growth opportunities were topped out. What did he expect? I was 29 at the time.
What makes manufacturing unique is the fact that employers do pay for the training. In healthcare, legal, or IT the individual pays for their training on their own time. So the individual has more responsibility to not waste that training by using it wherever it fits best.
I know technology is changing fast and keeping up with it can be hard. This doesn’t mean it can’t be done. And the ones that do keep up with be rewarded with better paying jobs and more opportunities.
Would manufacturing skills be more plentiful today if the individuals had to keep up with it on their one? I don’t know. I’m not saying that is the right answer, but it is something to think about.
What are you thoughts? How can manufacturing skills of individuals keep up with changing technology and employer and employees feel good about the training that was done without the fear of an employee leaving once they have developed their skills?