Category Archives: Customer Service

What to Consider When Selecting a Manufacturing Software Vendor

Liz Hamedi | CIMx Software

In this day and age, customer service and reputable businesses are getting harder to find. There is more to the sustainability of a software system than just the promised functionality. In fact, a system is only as good as the support and the reputation of the company that maintains it. This means it is critical to find a vendor that proves they are trustworthy, knowledgeable and collaborative.

Avoid the Vendor that does it all.

If you’ve ever started down the software implementation path, you’ve likely been blindsided by costs that you hadn’t planned for.

Maybe you had to add a module or two to meet your core requirements. Maybe you needed to pay extra for support or additional training. Or maybe your vendor required you to purchase an additional service to upgrade or integrate?

Unfortunately, the list goes on and on. To combat this, look for a vendor that will not say “yes” to everything. A trustworthy vendor will ask the right questions to ensure you get what you need, without adding additional cost for little to no benefit towards solving your long term goal.

Find a Vendor that supports your buying process.

Your primary goal is to find a system that is reliable with minimum support needs. However, it is important to know that if something does go wrong, or if you have a question, you won’t need to waste time hunting down a response. Although you can never truly understand the future support structure until you become a customer, there are red flags throughout the sales process that you should look out for.

When you ask your sales rep a question or request a demonstration, how long does it take for them to respond back? If you find your buying process to be slowed or hindered because your vendor is unable to deliver, this will be a strong indication of their ongoing customer service.

Find a vendor that can see the big picture.

Most businesses have more than one system to support their production. For you, if all the different parts do not move in harmony, you will be left with more headache than efficiency. Find a vendor that is willing to partner with other software systems to ensure the end result is a positive one.

A good vendor will ask questions to understand the important systems you are currently using and how they impact production so that you have everything you need. It is important that they keep you focused on the primary goals and help you identify future opportunities for additional functionality or system integrations.

By focusing on a vendor that will care enough to ask questions about your most costly production issues and your long-term goals, you will be sure to succeed. You don’t need someone that will tell you they can do everything, because you don’t need everything. You need a vendor that has the expertise and the experience to guide you through a successful project, while also taking into account what is best for you and your shop, not just their bottom line.


Manufacturing Software Experience | CIMx Software

For more than 20 years, CIMx has developed complete solutions for manufacturers. The experience and innovation behind CIMx systems have delivered decades of increased production and cost savings. Quantum® is designed to deliver the production control your team needs to build it right™, ahead of schedule and under budget.

Schedule your live Quantum demo with a CIMx Application Expert today!

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The Curious Connection between Waffle House and your MES Vendor

Waffle House has turned its commitment to customers into an enduring brand. What commitment has your MES supplier made to you?

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

Have you heard of the Waffle House Index? It’s a metric used by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to track the severity of a storm… and a metric that can give you key insight into the level of service your MES supplier provides.

Waffle_clip_art_hightWaffle House offers quality American breakfast food all day long, every day, and the company prides itself on serving customers no matter the weather. This has become a hallmark of the Waffle House brand – the website even promises “Each restaurant is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and quality is constant location to location.”

On May 22, 2011, a tornado struck Joplin, Missouri. The storm was rated an EF5, with 158 deaths and more than 1,000 injured. EF, which stands for Enhanced Fujita, rates the estimated wind speed and storm damage, and an EF5 represents the worst storm damage possible. With winds estimated at more than 200 miles per hour (320 kilometers per hour), buildings can be decimated in seconds. In Joplin, the 2 Waffle Houses stayed open during the storm, and continued serving food – tasty waffles and delicious southern cooking – throughout the storm and recovery. As FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate explained to the Wall Street Journal, “If you get there (to a disaster area) and the Waffle House is closed? That’s really bad. That’s where you go to work.”

Following the Joplin storm, FEMA added the Waffle House index to its disaster dashboard. With the index, FEMA tracks Waffle Houses open in the area of storm damage. Where a Waffle House is closed, FEMA prioritizes the area for disaster recovery service.

Waffles and your MES

Will your MES Vendor make a commitment to you? How quickly can you reach someone to answer a critical question? Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Will your MES Vendor make a commitment to you? How quickly can you reach someone to answer a critical question? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Can you imagine the branding power available to a business so reliable emergency authorities use it to track disaster response? The Waffle House commitment to the customer can be summed up simply – “The Lights Are Always on at Waffle House.” While it may be a fantastic boon to marketing, it also represents a business with tight business processes and an effective planning model. Storms aren’t predictable. They build quickly and strike even faster. When considering effective disaster recovery, you need to be prepared for everything and anything, and have a plan in place to respond to a situation accurately and efficiently, to ensure reliable service in the most difficult situations.

Which led me to the thought – how will a software supplier index you when it comes time for a service call? Where do you rate on their list of priorities? Do they have a “customer” index, or even a plan for serving their customers in a disaster like Waffle House does? Most manufacturing software suppliers offer a yearly “service plan” to customers, but what does this mean? Are those suppliers making a commitment to you and your business?

You see, at CIMx, our goal with our service plan is to deliver effective solutions and service to our customers as quickly as possible, with minimal (or even no) service disruption and no unnecessary service costs. Get effective software expertise when and where it needs to be. This starts with our Application Engineers. Every one of our customers has an engineer dedicated to their account. The engineer is the project leader for the software implementation, and conducts all training and service for the customer. Supporting the Application Engineer, we have plans in place designed to deliver scalable support when and where our customers need it.

With the Application Engineer, we’ve eliminated the “middle man” – those horrible call centers and help desks that normally handle customer calls – to ensure our customers speak directly to the person best positioned to answer customer questions and lead the response. For the Application Engineer, the customer is the highest priority. It’s a standard level of service for CIMx, and it’s become our “the light’s always on” commitment to our customers. For our customers, the Application Engineer is a trusted partner ready at a moment’s notice to work with them to get their production up and running as quickly as possible, no matter what the problem is (because it is a point of pride here at CIMx that our software is, first and foremost, stable and adaptable, and NEVER prone to failure).

A Commitment to Customer-Centric Paperless Manufacturing

How will your shop floor benefit from customer-centric customer service through an Application Engineer assigned to your account? Illustration by www.colourbox.com

How will your shop floor benefit from customer-centric customer service through an Application Engineer assigned to your account? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Most importantly, we’ve seen first-hand the positive impact our customer support plans have. I recently had a conversation with a customer upgrading our software at multiple sites. Most customers can do this on their own, but when the customer upgrades through several versions or has multiple platforms to support, as this customer was potentially doing at the sites, they often ask for advisory help (which brings up the point – does your MES supplier allow you to upgrade without a service contract or the vendor’s help?) We were writing a contract for the engineering services and had applied the standard response time to the proposal, when the customer told me our response time was “faster than I need on this project.” I was floored. We respond more quickly than he needed?

For me, this was verification our processes and planning were paying off. We provided a level of service that was more than was necessary, which I should think is rare among manufacturing software suppliers. So, I’m curious, what level of service do you receive from your vendors? What is their commitment to you once you’ve purchased the software? Is it enough? Do you have a plan in place for when the unexpected happens? What are your support dollars doing for you?

Where does your software supplier fit in the Waffle House index?

5 Ways Market Acquisitions May Hurt Your Manufacturing Business

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Market acquisition is changing the manufacturing software solutions market, but not always for the better.  We take a closer look at its cost to innovation and service to manufacturers.

Market consolidation – big companies purchasing smaller companies in order to make even bigger companies – has become a way of business.

Consider this, Google has purchased more than 160 companies since the company was founded.  In less than one year, they purchased 21 companies.  In 2010, Google bought a company, on average, every two weeks!  According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple averages an acquisition every other month.  Acquisitions are rampant, widespread, and especially common in the high-tech and software industries.

Market Acquisitions and Manufacturing

What can you do when your software vendor is sold to another company? Illustration by www.colourbox.com

What can you do when your software vendor is sold to another company? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Manufacturing software solutions aren’t immune to the epidemic of strategic acquisitions (or, as we call it, “purchase, use, abuse, consolidate, wash and repeat”) trend.  Just this year, Dassault Systemes has purchased companies such as Quintiq, which offers supply chain optimization software, Accelrys, which manages research data, and Apriso, an MES.  Other manufacturing software companies are being gobbled up at a rate rarely seen outside a holiday meal.  Visiprise was purchased by SAP.  Dassault purchased Intercim (let’s be honest… not sure why you need two MES – perhaps one was lonely?)  Most recently, Siemens has signed an agreement to purchase Camstar, another MES.

The marketing spin factories are hard at work turning these purchases into stories of customer benefit.  They tell us about “expanded offerings” (i.e. more stuff you can buy), with “market synergies,” (i.e. more places to sell our stuff) “value delivery focus” (i.e. more ways you can buy our stuff) and even, “innovation accelerant” (i.e. more ways we can make you buy our stuff).

Big companies have a goal in mind with each purchase, and it’s not focused on the customer’s needs.  In fact, there’s a “I just bought a company” expense passed on to customers when an acquisition occurs.  We call it (mockingly) the “Purchase Pain Payment Plan.”  It’s this unspoken sacrifice all customers pay when a vendor decides it’s time to acquire or be acquired.

Customer Payment Plan for MES Market Consolidation

Let’s take a look at a few of the items you might come across in the payment plan:

  • The Service gaps and delays.

Face it, every software system is different.  As a company begins to integrate their internal service organizations with those of the newly purchased company, there will be service gaps.  The service plan you previously purchased slowly morphs into a new plan that better serves the vendor.  You may discover new service charges on your billing, or a flood of “Service Update” notices on legal letterhead.  Once the vendor adjusts their workforce (i.e. layoffs) the service gaps will widen, and you may see delays in service or changes in how the company responds to your needs.  Eventually, the problems and service questions will be worked out, but not before the company has you and the other customers where they want you.

  • How can you protect yourself when a new company is servicing your business? Image by www.colourbox.com

    How can you protect yourself when a new company is servicing your business? Image by http://www.colourbox.com

    Upcharges and the push for new functionality.

Many companies buy a smaller company to acquire their smartest employees or access their IP (intellectual property).  It is one way to fill out a product offering, eliminate a perceived weakness, or make up for a lack of innovation.  For example, Google purchased Emu to add context and an interactive element to text messages.  Many manufacturing software companies, such as Siemens, will purchase MES to complement their PLM or other software.  Vendors seek upcharges and sales of the new functionality, pushing customers to purchase and spend more with promises of amazing new software synergies that may (or may not) be of benefit to you.  These vendors will also exploit their new customer base for new sales, offering them their existing products or packaging them with the product they know the customer needs.

  • Adjustments to the upgrade path.

Software ages, and one way to ensure your software stays relevant is an upgrade.  Most companies offer an upgrade path, or a plan for upgrading your system.  This plan is thrown out the window once a company is purchased, as the teams that were working on your upgrade are now moved to integrating the new software or to other projects.  In fact, many times the vendor will push you to purchase a new system in order to move customers to the systems they are actively supporting, leaving customers that were happy with the software and system before wondering how they can work with the system being pushed on them now.

  • What will a change in vendor mean for you and your business? Illustration by www.colourbox.com

    What will a change in vendor mean for you and your business? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

    Scalability issues.

There is a fine balance between getting the service you and your company needs, and being overcharged for services you don’t want.  As a vendor grows through acquisitions (or being acquired) changes will be made in how the business is handled, your software is serviced, and in the relationship between customer and vendor.  Many times, this will lead to scalability problems, as customers begin paying for services, functionality, tools or features they don’t want.  Your use of the software system may be consistent, but as they vendor begins incorporating new products and employees, they adapt their billing change – which will be reflected in the cost of the software.

  • New features that aren’t focused on your needs.

Many times, an acquisition will herald a strategic change for a company.  They will not only purchase a company to fill a void, but bring innovation back into their processes with a solution that has been perfected and scaled for the market.  Problem is, the new direction may not be the one you need, and it may not even be the solution you originally thought you were purchasing.  As the vendor resources pivot to capitalize on the recently purchased innovation, previous customers are left wanting.

Minimize the Impact of Market Consolidation

The truth is, not all acquisitions are bad.  There are benefits, such as rapid growth, additional market penetration, economy of scale and service synergies.  Large companies, hindered by infrastructure and layers of management, rely on acquisitions to fuel innovation and growth.  Acquisitions can be catalysts for positive change, helping both companies find success.  A successful acquisition can propel an excellent idea and successful product to a much wider market.

Process Improvement graph.

The right strategy will help you navigate unforeseen market consolidation. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

But not all acquisitions are successful, either for the companies involved or their customers.  Even with a solid integration plan, there will be challenges that customers need to recognize and plan for, either with an alternate service or internal adjustments.  In the painful process of integrating companies, customers can easily become forgotten in the shuffle.  The key is to ignore the hype and marketing surrounding an acquisition and take a critical look at what it means for your business, your shop floor, and your team.  Plan accordingly and make sure your business needs are met.

In addition to the inconvenience an acquisition can cause customers and manufacturers, there is also a real danger to innovation.  As companies purchase smaller businesses to fuel growth and product line, innovation is lost to integration.  Energy is poured into making systems work together as a (somewhat) cohesive whole, rather than solving problems better and faster or creating new solutions.  Integrated systems often produce increasingly complex systems that create more problems than they solve.

Innovation has always been the fuel that drives manufacturing growth, and acquisition will never be a suitable replacement to innovation.

Do you have questions about your manufacturing software solution, or want to see how software innovation can benefit you?  Give us a call or leave a message.  We’re happy to help.

3 Must-have Insider Tips for Selecting the Right MES Vendor

Selecting the right MES vendor for you and your business doesn’t have to be frustrating.  Here’s how you can save time, money, and solve your production challenges.

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

Recently, a company in Poland announced an MES Application Maintenance service for companies around the globe.  I have to admit… this one came as a shock.

Following a few simple tips will help ensure you have the right MES or paperless manufacturing in place. Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Following a few simple tips will help ensure you have the right MES or paperless manufacturing in place. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Think about it… companies purchase an MES, then hire another company to maintain the software!  Does it mean the original vendor can’t support their own software?  Are they too expensive?  Is the second company better at “maintaining” the system?  Does the software need an entire “service” to keep it working?  What does this say about the MES industry?

If the company that installed your MES can no longer support you, or has become so expensive you’ve stopped using them, perhaps a “service” company is the band aid (or tourniquet) you need.  If you haven’t installed a system yet, take a moment and learn from this sad situation…

Companies say they implement Manufacturing Execution System (MES) solutions.  Some companies build the tools they sell; others acquire the tools through a merger or acquisition to quickly fill a void in their functionality.  Once acquired, the tools may be loosely integrated (or not), and the complete package is sold to the unsuspecting customer as a package.  Other companies call themselves consultants and offer to research, buy the system, then implement.  They act as the middle man for your MES, offering a huge catalog of tools to ensure you are getting just the right one (yeah, right!)

It’s no wonder the process of evaluating vendors is such a time-intensive and frustrating process, but it doesn’t have to be.  Here are 3 simple tips that will eliminate much of the work and frustration:

  •  Who wrote the software?

First, eliminate companies offering a software tool they don’t own.  The reason is simple – if you purchase software from a vendor who doesn’t own the original code, maintenance, testing and upgrade will be expensive and risky.  You increase the risks of losing support for the software if you need it, and in software support is a must since your processes and company are always changing requiring modifications to the software to match your new work flow.

Many companies call these tools from third-party vendors “modules” or “apps.” Companies that sell and install software they didn’t build cannot consistently provide the same level of support as the company that built the tool.  In fact, many times they are offering you an older version of the third-party software to cut down on the cost.  When you start connecting these modules with other platforms, apps or tools from other vendors the risk and cost dramatically increases, especially over the life of the installation.  The integration between the modules is custom-built as the implementation is put together.  The initial integration won’t be cheap, and maintenance costs are going to be shocking.

  •  Ask difficult questions.

Next, ask about a warranty.  I don’t know many companies that offer one, especially for software.  As you consider a vendor, ask for their license agreement upfront.  The process of getting the license agreement from them, and the content of the document, will tell you a lot about how the vendor does business.  Potentially, this can identify vendors that don’t match the way you do business.  Once you have the license agreement, ask for the warranty.  Asking difficult questions in the beginning will give you a clue to how they will handle your challenging questions later, and will quickly eliminate vendors who aren’t being honest with you.

  •  Review the selling process.

Before you see a demo or sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) review the sales process with the vendor.  Ask what steps they will take during the sales process, and how it will help you to make a decision.  If the vendor has a distinct sales process focused on servicing the customer, chances are good they have a process for software support, customer care, product development and other areas of their business.

While you are talking to the vendor, ask about software support, customer care, and product development.  A company with robust, customer-friendly or customer-centric internal processes will describe these very quickly.   It will give you a good idea how these processes will benefit your business in the future.


 

I admit – I love my job.  I love helping manufacturers, and watching as software and technology optimize the shop floor and help people do their work better, faster, and with fewer errors.  I love to see the benefits of a project blossom as people realize how powerful the solution will be for them.

That might be why it drives me crazy to know there are companies struggling out there to make their MES work.  The problem is so bad they need to hire another company just to maintain the system.  That’s NOT how the system should work.

Don’t let yourself get trapped in a difficult situation by buying the wrong software solution.  Take the time to ask a few questions of a prospective software vendor to ensure you’re purchasing the right solution.  As always, give us a call or send a message if you have questions.  We may not be the right vendor for you, but we’re happy to answer questions or guide you in the right direction.

Understanding Manufacturing Software Solutions (MES) and Customer Service

Take an honest look at your software vendor – are you a business partner or a commodity?

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Recently, I had to rent a car and wanted to know what was covered in my policy, so I gave the insurance company a call.  It turns out they couldn’t answer my question until I retrieved a number from my insurance card.  The entire experience made me feel like a number to a huge insurance-mega-corporation-behemoth.  My simple question couldn’t be answered until I retrieved a magic number they used to access my file amongst the sea of data the corporation swam in.

Ho confident are you in your MES or paperless manufacturing provider? Photo by www.colourbox.com.

How confident are you in your MES or paperless manufacturing provider? Photo by http://www.colourbox.com.

I first bought my current policy from a nice gentleman who came to my house and shared a cup of coffee while we looked at options.  But his agency was purchased by the mega-corporation, and, from what I heard, the nice gentleman left to open a restaurant.  So, now I am an account number to “Customer Service and Concern” reps who mangle my name each time they addressed me.  Even worse, I know each of those reps used a script as they spoke to me.  Yes, I just got scripted!

I am NOT against big corporations.  Corporations are made up of the same good and bad people you see in any company.  But I was dismayed when a commercial for the insurance company came on TV, obviously targeting new customers, while I waited on the phone to have a SIMPLE question answered.  New customers represent growth, and are the lifeblood of a company, but you shouldn’t sacrifice your existing customers in the relentless pursuit of new business!

This is especially true in manufacturing software.  Manufacturing solutions software, such as MES and paperless manufacturing, provides a vital service to the shop floor.  A well-crafted solution should work seamlessly with your current processes, but when a problem happens, you need an answer quickly… more quickly than a help desk can provide.  Because a shop floor is a constantly changing environment, especially in discrete manufacturing, the software can’t be installed and forgotten.  It needs active support to capitalize on the latest technology and processes, and a truly customer-centric solution shouldn’t gouge a customer for a simple update or necessary service.

That said, after spending (wasted) time on the phone with an insurance company, I’m proposing a simple manifesto of manufacturing software customer rights.  Here goes:

1)      All existing customers should have direct communication with a company representative they know by name, and not an anonymous “help” desk or an even more anonymous email address.

2)      A plan for regular software updates, to accommodate new technology and processes, should be offered before software is installed. Change will happen (anyone paying attention to the latest in 3D printing?) so you need a process to accommodate change.

3)      The manufacturing solution provider should know your company by name (not number) and understand your business to provide service and recommendations specific to you.

4)      Your software solution should be continually supported.  Any system that doesn’t have regular upgrades and releases will eventually become the obsolete legacy system so many companies struggle against.

5)      You should not be afraid you’ll accrue service charges if you call with a question.

Consider these the goal of manufacturing software customer service- an expectation you have before you go into business with a company.

Bigger doesn't necessarily mean better when it comes to customer service. Photo credit www.colourbox.com

Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better when it comes to customer service. Photo credit http://www.colourbox.com

While this discussion started after a bad experience on the phone with a mega-corporation insurance company, I’m not specifically targeting the big companies.  I do think there is a tendency to focus effort on “new” customers and business, and forget existing customers.  The help desk and the customer service line become a sales tool, and not a tool for customers to find a true solution.  Sometimes, companies focus on the “sales funnel” to convert “prospects” into customers, but once a customer completes the sales funnel, they become forgotten.  The existing customer is a “commodity” measured in business statistics, rather than a partner.

Now that my rant is over, take a moment and think about the “manifesto” of customer rights.  How does your manufacturing software provider rate?  What confidence do you have in their service now and in the future?  What expectations do you have regarding customer support?

Questions?  Leave us a message.  I guarantee it won’t be answered by a help desk that needs a 13-digit account number to hear your question.

3D Printing Could Kill You (Or Your Business), Here’s Why…

3D Printing is going to have a dramatic affect on manufacturing, but we can learn from other industries how to succeed when change comes.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications for CIMx Software

Choices and options.

3D printing will change manufacturing. How will you handle the change? Photo credit http://www.colourbox.com.

I came across an article on a Yahoo News about a University of Texas law student who is posting online a blueprint for a 3D printed handgun called “The Liberator.”  Download the blueprint/design, load it into your 3D printer- yes, you can purchase a home 3D printer, such as the Replicator 2 or the Cube– and you’re moments from producing your own plastic handgun; weaponry in no time at all!

Reading the article was scary and exciting, because I love technology!  The future is exciting, and I believe technology represents the best of humanity- using our ingenuity to solve problems together.  Others argue it is dangerous technology- not only physically harmful, this is….

… scary.  Worried about gun control laws?  Why worry, when you can print your own gun.  A world where a gun for a terrorist is only a website and 3D printer away is scary. But, it’s also…

.. exciting. Someday you will log onto a website, select a design, and print it on your desktop.  It sounds like pure science fiction, a scene from Star Trek, pulled straight out of Neal Stephenson’s book Diamond Age. Maybe, but soon the Defense Distributed website will offer the handgun design. Once the first design comes out, designs for more products will follow.  Household custom manufacturing is science fiction no longer, and that is…

What will manufacturing in the future look like? Photo credit www.colourbox.com

What will manufacturing in the future look like? Photo credit http://www.colourbox.com

… scary, especially for manufacturers.  The University of Texas law student behind the handgun design describes himself as a “free-market anarchist,” and 3D Printing is a “free-market anarchist’s” dream. The entire manufacturing dynamic is changing. Consumers no longer rely on manufacturers, they have their own manufacturing control. Which means manufacturers need to offer more than a product, but also a service or a value-add to convince consumers to purchase, and I don’t think manufacturing is ready to make that transition.  It’s a radical change, and change can be…

… exciting, because for a long time, our industry (manufacturing) has been reluctant to embrace change.  Other industries have adjusted to the modern market.  Newspapers and magazines have moved to meet the consumer online and in social media.  Restaurants are providing an “experience,” and grocery stores are utilizing technology to connect to shoppers.  But manufacturers are reluctant to tackle custom orders, still embrace paper-bound build books, and rely on outdated Legacy systems.  We might know how to improve efficiency, but fear and risk hold us back. Change is coming, and that’s…

… scary, because for many in our industry, there seems to be little plan to adjust to a world where the consumer has access to a relatively inexpensive  manufacturing technology.  What will 3D printing mean for you?  What will desktop manufacturing mean to your shop floor?  Can we embrace the changes other industries have made; this includes a focus on customer service? Can we continue to ignore the need for change?

Take action now that will pay dividends in the future! Photo credit www.colourbox.com

Take action now that will pay dividends in the future! Photo credit http://www.colourbox.com

This article on an idealistic law student brings up a number of questions.  There will be questions about gun control, regulation, empowering criminals versus free market enterprise, but we also need to think about what 3D printing and open information mean for manufacturing.  Sure, 3D printing can be an exceptional new tool for manufacturing, but we need to step back and look at how else it will affect the industry. Other changes are coming- including cloud computing, mobile manufacturing, paperless manufacturing, robotics, MES, agile processes, and more. Change is already here, and more is coming.

I’m not arguing that 3D printing is going to completely replace manufacturing.  The technology isn’t there yet.  It’s slow.  Products made with 3D printing aren’t high quality and are prone to defects, and 3D printers aren’t capable of discrete manufacturing, but it’s only a matter of time.  We continually refine and perfect technology.  At one time, televisions were large and heavy, with only black and white pictures.  Now, we can wear a television like a watch- so imagine what 3D printing will be like in 20 years. Or 10 years. Or even next year.

So what can you do to protect yourself and your business from the 3D printing revolution?  What manufacturing solutions are available? How can you increase quality, increase production, and offer customers a better manufacturing experience? How agile is your operation? Now is the time to take action. When change comes for your business, make sure it’s exciting, not scary.

As Seen On TV® on Your Shop Floor

Here’s how you can cut through the false promises and empty guarantees to find a software provider you can trust.

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

It’s amazing the things you can discover on late night TV or on the Web.  Have you ever heard of the Pocket Hose, Foamazing or Wraptastic?  As Seen on TV is a cornucopia of the latest “inventions” – items you just can’t live without.  Where else can you find “Call Now!” favorites like the Wax Vac, the Perfect Pancake Pan or Miracle Socks?

The future is shaped by current innovation, including As Seen on TV innovation. Photo by www.colourbox.com

The future is shaped by current innovation, including As Seen on TV innovation. Photo by http://www.colourbox.com

I’m not an As Seen on TV expert.  I’ve never been interested in Bluetooth Sunglasses, and since I can cut a hotdog into pieces without help, you won’t find a Dog Dicer in my drawer.  I am interested, and suspicious, about their claims.  Spend a few minutes with As Seen on TV, and you’ll be promised a solution to every ailment, a brighter future, Utopia and more.  But, somehow I don’t think Wraptastic will help my abhorrence of cling wrap (can YOU get it to work?)  Even though it “makes food wrapping super easy,” and “cuts perfectly every time so there’s no waste,” I don’t believe it’s the solution for me.

So what do Wax Vacs, Foamazing, and As Seen on TV have to do with your shop floor?

Recently, CIMx Software turned 17 years old.  In 17 years, we’ve seen software businesses come and go.  Competitors have dropped like flies, either through lack of leadership during lean times, or getting swallowed by large PLM or ERP vendors.  (On a side note – these mergers, historically, have not gone well.  Companies rarely merge seamlessly, and it’s the customers who pay.)

How do you build trust in your customers? Can you trust the vendors you work with? Photo credit www.colourbox.com

How do you build trust in your customers? Can you trust the vendors you work with? Photo credit http://www.colourbox.com

Our customers are the key to our success.  A lot of people put their faith in us over the years.  They trusted us enough to invest.  Our products have become integral to their operations.  We respect their trust and work hard to earn it.  While we provide a guarantee for scope, time and dollars for a project, I know guarantees in the software business are much like guarantees on As Seen on TV.  Building trust with customers isn’t done through guarantees, ads, or promises.

We’re not selling the Groutinator or Magic Mesh (yes, these are real products offering fabulous promises).  We know Lean and Paperless manufacturing.  We know process control, mobile manufacturing, and software.  We’ve rescued customers from the broken promises of others, where months later they were still trying to get the paperless manufacturing or MES functionality they were promised.  (Here’s a tip from an industry veteran – look at the relative size of an implementation staff to determine if a company is software- or services-related.  A services company will have a larger staff and require more services. The work they do will be costly to support.)

While we deliver on our promises of budget, time and scope, it’s hard to make these claims in today’s skeptical world trained to sniff out falsehood.  So how do we build trust with our customers?

Take time with the vendors you work with.  It will be time well spent.  Photo by www.colourbox.com

Taking the time to build trust will be time well spent. Photo by http://www.colourbox.com

In today’s ad-weary world, building trust is about understanding the culture of a company, meeting people and giving and receiving honest answers.  Exclamation marks and a flashy website are irrelevant to your project’s success.  17 years is a long time in the software business.  We thrived where many of our competitors failed because we truly love what we’re doing.  We enjoy solving manufacturing problems.  Technology, innovation, and mobile manufacturing are thrilling.  When you call us, you reach someone who works for CIMx, not an answering service, and we’re excited to answer your questions! (… and that is the ONLY exclamation point you’ll see from me in this blog…).  The guarantees we offer aren’t hard to make because we won’t make promises we can’t keep.  We offer a product that works, and we’re proud of what we do.

Maybe that’s a little old fashioned, and it may not have the panache of a Dog Dicer, Groutinator, or Wraptastic, but it’s the truth.  This is the edge we offer over our competitors, and it is what separates CIMx from the competition.  Want to know more?  Give us a call.  I can’t guarantee a solution to all your problems, but I can promise an honest answer from someone who’s happy to help.