What We're Blogging About

For better IT project results, link every requirement to a business goal

A common criticism of IT people is their over-focus on technology. Typically, this is coupled with an under-focus on user needs and long-term business goals. This can mean that the IT team is focusing on solving problems that are not a priority for the user and or C-suite. How do we effectively translate or quantify the handful of business goals of the user into the hundreds of requirements given to Read More

The Harry Potter Problem: Why Wands Don’t Work for Data-Driven Projects

This article was originally published on IndustryWeek’s IdeaXchange blog, March  27th 2017. The very bright daughter of a friend of mine — I’ll call her Hannah — grew up with the Harry Potter series. Eight years old when the first book came out and an avid reader, Hannah looked forward to each new volume with painful anticipation. Now 27, Hannah recently confided to her mother that in the days before her Read More

Successful projects with remote teams – is it possible?

You’ve probably had the experience of working on a project with teams in different offices, or countries, or even from different companies. And while there are many horror stories, some of these projects do achieve success. How do they? Is there a magic recipe? Am I going to provide it, today? No, there’s no one-size-fits-all. But there are a few key ingredients that must be part of the recipe. If Read More

Moving From Dumb Manufacturing to Smart: Catching the Fourth Wave

This article was originally published on IndustryWeek’s IdeaXchange blog, January  27th 2017. This is the third of my three posts on moving from dumb manufacturing to smart. In the previous blog, we discussed Waves 1 and 2; this one will cover Waves 3 and 4. The four waves are layers–each builds on the one before. Collectively, they drive first-time-right quality. Wave 3: Improve quality management with centerlining Traditional quality management measures Read More

The Power of One: IoT Smart Manufacturing enables mass customization

Last Sunday was a very Barry day, wanting things my way! I dropped in at Starbucks to pick up my coffee, barista-ed to my tastes. Then I went home and watched YouTube from my subscription list of content that matches my interests. Finally, I ordered a pizza online, choosing custom toppings and tracking it dynamically as “Susan” prepared my meal. The race to customization Today the trend for personal customization Read More

Augmented reality and manufacturing?? Say what?

Typically, your first encounter with virtual or augmented reality is through video games or movies. That means we tend to see them as tools for toys or entertainment. Not the Next Big Thing, and certainly not the next big thing in manufacturing. But these new tools are already making their mark in our industry. Today I’ll offer a few examples, as well as a look at what the future might Read More

Moving to Smart Manufacturing: Your Plant is Talking to You!

This article was originally published on IndustryWeek’s IdeaXchange blog, December 22nd 2016. Some customer’s words not only stick with you, they shape your thinking forever after. Many years ago, on a plant tour, a Brazilian pulp plant manager turned to me and said: “Can you help me understand the language of the mill? My mill is talking to me and I can’t understand. And my people can’t either.” As discussed in my recent Read More

Prepare for the unthinkable – two steps to stop knowledge loss

Everyone has subject matter experts Every business has their subject matter experts (SME). These experts gain their knowledge through years of projects and assignments, through the succession of successes and failures we call experience. We lean on these experts to help us through tricky problems. And that leaning is a source of pride for the experts and a source of inspiration for their junior employees. But! It is an ancient, Read More

Being an IT leader – how to pass the smell test

Three years ago I began planning for a change. I was coming up on 20 years in IT. I knew I needed to make a move if I really wanted to grow; I was ready to do more than manage networks and computer banks. I looked around and found an opportunity that really appealed at Factora. And fortunately for me, the Factora leadership saw potential in what I brought to Read More

Changing the status quo: it’s all in your mind[set]!

Challenging the status quo is tricky. People are more comfortable with what they already know, and they understandably feel their approach is an efficient one. They may even be emotionally engaged with their current tools, habits, or ways of working. All this is even more true if they’ve developed that approach after many phases of thinking, testing, and trial-and-error. But at Factora, it’s our job to make change happen. To Read More