by April 2, 2012 0 comments



I was party to an interesting debate on some of the woes faced by the manufacturing sector. This was at the recently held PCQuest SMB Forum in Delhi, which was attended by the directors and IT decision makers of mid-sized enterprises. The key issue was about implications of a missing component in a production line. What do you do when in the middle of a production process, you suddenly discover that one component is missing? This happens despite having an inventory management solution in place.

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The production comes to a stand still because the product can’t be completed till the missing component is made available.

On top of that, what if the missing component is something you import from a supplier sitting abroad, so buying a similar component from a local manufacturer may not be feasible because you’re not sure of its quality. You’re essentially stuck. It delays production, you loose money because your manpower is sitting idle. Your customer is unhappy because his shipment will be delayed.

The debate was on whether and how IT could have helped the company in such a grim situation. Responses started flying from everywhere, audience and speakers/panelists alike. One immediate response was to implement a business intelligence solution. This would give you early warnings about your inventory status. The solution would set thresholds for all critical inventory, so the moment anything goes below a certain level, it raises an alarm so that you can make provisions for it.

But even more important than having a BI tool in this situation is to regularly update all records. There’s no IT solution on Earth that can help you if you don’t do that. As somebody pointed out during the debate, IT would simply be ‘garbage in, garbage out’, if the inventory is not updated on a daily basis in this situation.

So the bottomline is that IT can help resolve a lot of business challenges faced by SMEs, but it needs to be driven from the top. There has to be an IT champion who can bridge the gap between IT and business, and not merely do routine jobs like setup systems, troubleshoot networks, etc.

Our cover story this time looks at six key industry clusters in India, how they’re doing, some of the business challenges they face, and possible IT solutions to their problems provided by a few IT vendors.

We hope to continue the trend as we step into a new financial year, so do tell us about your business challenges and we’ll try to provide possible ways that IT could resolve them.

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