Are There One or Two Paths from Envision 2016?

The Road Less Traveled

Reading the variety of post-event comments from Microsoft Envision 2016, it is very clear that two strong camps have emerged. Which is not to say that they are in conflict with each other. Just that, in my opinion, there were two important outcomes from the event. The outcomes aren’t even exclusionary. I believe that those individuals who care about one are also those individuals who will care about the other.

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The Inevitability of Digital Transformation

The Inevitability of Digital Transformation

At the inception conference for Microsoft’s Envision this past week in New Orleans, digital transformation was at the heart of CEO Satya Nadella’s keynote address. Anyone not present for the keynote or not particularly focused on the software industry could be forgiven for wondering why a speech was delivered about transferring your photos or music to digital media. After all, haven’t we already done that?

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When Convergence Evaporated

When Convergence Evaporated

When Convergence Evaporated, What Did We Gain?

For the last ten years the first quarter of my team’s calendar year has been heavily focused on wrapping up final details and preparing for Microsoft’s event, Convergence. For us the planning effort begins almost as soon as the previous year’s event ends. So one might think that Microsoft’s recent announcement – Convergence is out and Envision is in – would be helpful in eliminating or adjusting resources.

Surprisingly, that is not true. A different challenge awaits.

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The Great Search for the Right Integrated ERP

The Great Search for the Right Integrated ERP

Like every other year for the past 15 or so, I will speak with many organizations that plan to acquire manufacturing software or expand the capability of their existing solutions with functionality like quality management. These organizations will take similar but not identical routes in their investigation and evaluation of proposed solutions. A high number will find themselves facing the end of 2016 still not having made a final selection; they will be strongly concerned about how to balance their team’s ability to digest such a project and its perceived benefits.

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Is Confidence the Difference Between Estimates and Guesses?

Estimate or Guesstimate

At the Dynamics products user group summit in Reno in October, we decided to engage in a small social experiment.

We asked attendees to tell us how many pieces of Candy Corn (we were very seasonal) they thought were in the jar we were displaying. We provided a few tools to help them develop their answer: measuring tapes, sample candy, a template of the base of the jar and, of course, the jar itself was accessible. We had no restrictions on the use of tools like smartphones as calculators. We also expanded the sample size of the experiment by providing a web page for online answers. The webpage had a photo of the jar with a 16-ounce bottle of water to provide scale.

Finally, we incentivized participants by offering $10.00 gift cards for the fifteen closest answers.

Then, in what we thought was the most important part of the experiment, we asked our players to identify how they had reached their answer. Did they guess, estimate or measure?

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Learning from First-time Flyers

Learning from First-Time Flyers

I have a deep respect if not an actual fondness for the way the airline cabin crew executes their safety announcements. Regardless of how many passengers are on the plane, they deliver their messages consistently and clearly. Sure, they understand that there are likely more than a few passengers aboard who have flown before, but they also recognize that some individuals are making their very first flight. For the safety and comfort of all, they deliver their messages to ensure that all fliers are well-prepared.

I believe there is an important lesson in this consistent effort by the airlines and it is this: no matter how common we believe an experience or piece of knowledge to be, there is always someone for whom the experience or the information is new. We serve best when we remember this – to keep groups, events and knowledge growing, we must acknowledge the experienced participant and make available the tools and programs needed to educate and bring confidence to new members.

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Business Success Comes Through Improvements

Meaningful business success always comes down to one thing: improvement. Show me a new product, a more successful company or a happier customer and I will show you improvement.

Given the exceedingly strong correlation between success and improvement isn’t it a wonder that more companies don’t have formal methods for the improvement factor?

Improvement Management Becomes Formalized

In the upcoming release of the ISO standards 9000 and 9001:2015 the concept and formality of improvement management will be getting a bit of a kick in the pants. It is an area of the standard that has undergone some rethinking, reworking and rewording. This is not because it was redundant or lacked value but because its value is incredibly important for those really dedicated to success.

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Are You Increasing Busyness Instead of Business?

We just completed our four video summer learning series, designed to help with business tasking that is often overlooked. Basically, we feel busy is not always better… particularly when simple changes can lead to significant improvements. When you can do better, you should.

These four short video lessons will spark better processes to improve business while reducing wasted time in busyness through automation and streamlined efforts.

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Improve Your Supply Chain with Better Vendor Management

The term “supply chain” is not new. As the sources for our goods and services become both closer, due to speed of travel and, more so due to the global nature of economies, the term “supply chain” increases in relevancy and meaning.

Managing supply chains requires awareness and competency in many fields from understanding the elements of lead time, to incorporating the public holidays of foreign countries in the planning cycle, to managing exchange rates. Some of the factors to be managed for successful supply chain however are not directly under our control, consider the recent West Coast ports slow down as an example.

Yet, we still have to plan and manage our businesses in a way that allows us to be profitable while maintaining buffers to insulate us from unexpected or out of our control events. For some organizations a method that they use to improve performance of their supply chain is to have formal and rigorous processes for selecting and qualify vendors. Such methods are sometimes required by customers, as occurs in food and automotive industries, but in many other industries these methods are simply seen as good business policies.

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Defining Your Data For Decision Intelligence

The cost and count data of any business is critically important. Universally held judgment on business health is highly dependent on common measures of cost and count like revenue statements, earnings per share and asset value. But arriving at business success requires appropriate management of individual operational areas. Each function needs evaluation and fine tuning to ensure it contributes effectively and correctly to the whole. So for many businesses there are supplemental pieces of data, different from the core cost and count disciplines that must be monitored too as leading indicators of possible or probable outcomes.

With this awareness of the need to monitor for these early warning indicators at the department or functional level, comes the challenge of understanding exactly what the patterns of such indicators are. To answer that we must:

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