July 19th, 2013 | Published in Uncategorized
Editor's note: Whether it's in the factory, warehouse or office, manufacturers need to work efficiently to bring their customers what's needed. This week we're focusing on how companies in the manufacturing industry are using Google solutions to work better and stay connected. Our guest blogger is Greg Wade, Director Information Systems at SL Power Electronics, a supplier of high-reliability power conversion products and the largest subsidiary of SL Industries. Watch our manufacturing webinar and see what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.
At SL Industries, we design and manufacture specialty electronics that help our customers increase performance, safety and efficiency. We value these three principles in our internal operations, as well. In fact, we have an executive position devoted to lean operations. We also have a handful of employees, known as “lean champions,” who are committed to finding ways to cut waste and make our processes run smoother.
In 2011, we realized the need to improve efficiency within our own IT environment. We had been running Lotus Notes since 1998, and while it worked well for email, we didn’t have tools to help employees, groups or divisions work with one another. Our biggest obstacle, however, was mobility. Lotus Notes didn't support a complete mobile solution and our Blackberry Enterprise Server was not meeting the needs of our employees who desperately wanted to use other smart phones.
We decided to evaluate Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365 and LotusLive to get us up-to-date. Google Apps scored highest in our evaluation, offering the most mature platform with the most tools, and saving 20 to 45 percent over the other solutions in our cost models. We switched in September of 2011 with the help of Google Apps Reseller, SADA Systems.
Google Apps has made collaboration and efficiency top of mind. Our VP of Operational Excellence created a Google Site so he could collaborate with the “lean champions” throughout the company to communicate scorecards to each factory, providing lean training materials for everyone. This has been an internal breakthrough since now all of our employees can easily locate and digest this information.
The executive team uses Google Docs to manage the executive agenda and track weekly financial metrics, including backlogs, bookings and forecasts, and now everyone is looking at the same data during meetings. Before, we used Microsoft Excel and saved it on a file server, which led to all sorts of problems with version control that left people with out-of-date data.
By moving to the Google tools we really understand how much our previous technology environment was holding us back in our mission to “go lean.” Our old products were outdated and bulky. It took moving to tools such as Google Sites, Google Drive and Google Talk for us to realize that. Our “lean champions” are pretty proud.