Back to Blog Index

Maturity models in manufacturing: Why it’s all relative and what "The Who" have to do with it

Author: John Cowden, Senior Director, Strategic Engagements, Arbela Technologies

Few industries are as diverse and complex as manufacturing. Before we get into the details, however, let’s celebrate the works of the band, The Who. Specifically, the songs “Who Are You?” and “Can You See the Real Me.”

This sounds like a digression for a blog about manufacturing maturity assessments, but rest assured, it’s an absolute fit. Because a dedicated assessment can help tell you “who” your business is related to others in your industry, and where you might want to go next (ok, maybe “Where Are You?” would have been a better song for this). Additionally, it can help assess the integrity and quality of your data, enabling you to “see” the company as it currently stands.

In terms of digital transformation, it’s critical to completely see the real data underpinning your current state and understand who you are in relation to that data, to competitors, and to the market before moving on to the technology, tactics, and teams that fuel transformation.

So, what’s first in assessing the maturity of your manufacturing business? It all begins with a proper model, which we discussed in detail in a recent webinar.

Maturity models: it’s ok to not know what you don’t know

Before you begin to build your model, capture the right questions to best uncover what you know and — more importantly — what you don’t. As famously said, you don’t know what you don’t know, and building on that…

You can’t act on what you don’t know.

You won’t know until you search.

You won’t search for what you don’t question.

You won’t question what you don’t measure.

Your maturity model starts with measuring. That means data: a review of data integrity, data quality, data reliability and availability. With the data in place, we can then build a standard model of measuring maturity as it relates to our ability to transform (see figure below).

As you can see, steps one, two, and three are about information gathering and analyses, hence step one in our manufacturing maturity assessment focuses almost solely on the data. This isn’t simply servers and spreadsheets: there’s data stored, often hidden, in Outlook, LinkedIn, the web, legacy systems, and more. Additionally, there’s competitive and third-party data that will help assess your maturity (after all, it’s often relative to competitors and the industry you’re in).

Finally, there’s the data provided by stakeholders and executives related to strategic direction that will provide a proper context for any assessment. Once we have the data, we create the direction, the alignment with strategic objectives that will help turn an understanding (data) into an action (transformation).

And remember when we said “few industries are as diverse and complex as manufacturing”, here’s where that always becomes abundantly clear: in the numerous maturity assessments we have done for manufacturing organizations, we have never had the same outcome for any two companies. An Arbela Manufacturing Maturity Assessment is based on your data, your strategic goals, and your existing infrastructure; and while no two companies are alike, there are similar pillars from the assessment side.

For example, suppose you’re focused on manufacturing excellence. No matter what kind of data you have, no matter what your goals may be, and no matter what niche you’re in, we’ll focus on these pillars:

  • Defining value through customer expectations
  • Separating value from waste
  • Understanding the flow of value creation
  • Reducing lead time to surface problems
  • Involving people to solve problems
  • Solving problems (e.g., PDCA)
  • Improving continuously
  • Developing a learning organization

The difference is always in the answers our clients give us. As said earlier about data being relative to you and your competitors? That’s a good thing. Because that means your answers are yours alone. And the results delivered by an Arbela Manufacturing Maturity Assessment will be yours to successfully drive your business transformation.

For more information, view our recent webinar, or contact us today.