Moving beyond technology: 4 keys to project success

Technology is only a tool for project success. Proper training and access to data combined with the appropriate technologies is a power combination for achieving results.


I’m an engineer and I work for a technology company. All the projects we do are about technology, and rightly so. Technology is an extremely powerful driving force in our world. Technology is used everywhere, and it’s all just amazing.

In manufacturing, technology is used to increase productivity, reduce costs, provide new capabilities for companies to serve their customers, and provides hard dollar benefits to the bottom line. But in manufacturing—for technology to be successful—there needs to be more than just the technology.

It’s necessary to move beyond just the technology to ensure that the project is a success, that it’s really used in the company, and that it really achieves the hard dollar bottom line success. Here are four ideas for moving beyond the technology to achieve project success:

  1. Technology: Technology is the starting place. Technology provides the tools used to achieve the results. But technology is nothing more tools. By itself technology can no more achieve the results that a hammer by itself can build a house. Technology provides the tools to capture, analyze, and share data and information.

  2. Information: Getting beyond technology means getting beyond the data. It means turning the data into useful information. Technology is still part of the solution, but human ingenuity is required at this point to get past the data and get really useful information. Technology provides the right information at the right time, in real-time, to the people who can best use it to run the business. At this point is definitely not about technology but about people running the business.

  3. Education: Call it education, training, or just plain old experience, but people have to know what to do with the technology and the information you give them. Giving someone a hammer doesn't get the house built if they don’t know how to build a house. It’s necessary to provide people with the training to exploit information that the technology gives them in order to achieve real process and productivity improvements.

  4. Ownership: The final step is to bring the technology, the information, and the education together to achieve the results. This means that the people have to be empowered to make decisions—to change things. Technology, information, and education are useful if the people can’t do what needs to be done. It’s necessary to empower the people to make decisions and make changes once technology, information, and education are in place.

So, what’s the bottom line? Yes, it’s a technology project. And we can’t get to where we’re going without the technology. But it’s not a technology or information project. Technology and information are only foundational tools.

The real project is the education and empowerment to use the technology and information to make hard dollar productivity improvements.

Technology is impacting just about everything in our world. Manufacturing is no exception. Technology is having a big impact in manufacturing. But to have more than just an impact—to have real hard dollar benefits you've got to get beyond the technology and focus on the people. It’s the people who have to use the technology to achieve the results.

This post was written by John Clemons. John is the Director of Manufacturing IT at MAVERICK Technologies, a leading automation solutions provider offering industrial automation, strategic manufacturing, and enterprise integration services for the process industries. MAVERICK delivers expertise and consulting in a wide variety of areas including industrial automation controls, distributed control systems, manufacturing execution systems, operational strategy, business process optimization and more.

MAVERICK Technologies is a CSIA member as of 3/20/2015

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