As a business leader, it is your responsibility to execute the strategic objectives mandated by corporate leadership. Today, these strategic objectives often involve projects tied to digital transformation. However, the vast majority of these projects are failing. According to McKinsey's, “The ‘how’ of transformation,” “70% of complex large-scale change programs don’t reach their stated goals because of lack of employee engagement, inadequate management support, poor cross-functional collaboration, and lack of accountability.” In short, the projects being taken on are too big AND likely to fail.
It’s time to focus! The easiest way to do this is to understand what work-related issues are keeping people up at night. When CEOs are surveyed on this topic, the answer is pretty clear. According to the Predictive Index’s Annual CEO Benchmarking Report 2021, “CEOs are most concerned about employee productivity and the lack of collaboration.” Therefore, this is where Digital Transformation projects should begin, and there is no better way to support effective collaboration than with the digital thread.
What is the Digital Thread?
To collaborate effectively you need to evaluate how critical information is shared within departments, between disciplines and functions, and across the product ecosystem with suppliers. All individuals working in these areas need access to information residing in several systems. Without it, organizations are left using a disconnected patchwork of methods to collaborate—such as meetings, Word documents, and Excel spreadsheets—that can slow down product development.
A digital thread allows anyone across the product lifecycle to trace the connections between a product and its digital assets, from initial capability planning and analysis, through design, manufacturing, testing, and on to final sustainment and disposal phases.
The digital thread allows companies to connect product information generated by a multitude of product functions including Product Requirements, Simulation Models, Electronics and Embedded Software, Manufacturing Process Plans, Service Records, and Operational Data.
Lack of Collaboration is Costing you
If you do not have a digital thread, your ability to collaborate is undermined, and at each point of the process at which you are disconnected and are shoring up this disconnection with manual processes, meetings, and meetings, more money is added to the cost of the product being developed, manufactured, and maintained.
Disconnected information can be tied to costs in the following ways:
- Time searching for information = time to market delays
- Disconnected processes = increased development, manufacturing, or maintenance costs
- Lack of visibility = higher product costs, quality issues
Where do you start?
Pursuing the digital thread is essential for you to keep pace with product complexity, customer requirements, and competition. The digital thread solves many lingering issues surrounding legacy IT and business processes, while breaking down organizational silos that have systematically been holding you back, keeping you up at night, and have been costing productivity and efficiency gains at the same time.
The key to where to start is having a view of where you are headed. This is done by creating a vision and roadmap that builds on your initial project success. Here are examples of where our customers began their journey to an effective digital thread approach that broke down silos and improved productivity:
- Document Management
- Change Management
- CAD Integration
- Configuration Management
- Manufacturing Process Plans
- Digital Twin
- Maintenance Management
The best way to keep continually improving is a centralized roadmap that maps to your business objectives and allows you to transform in a sustainable way. The roadmap should never be static. It should evolve with your business environment as it adapts and changes.
When you start approaching collaboration using the Digital Thread one step at a time, you will accomplish great things as a result—delivering on-time product launches, improving product quality and innovation—while lowering operating costs at the same time.
How? By taking a thoughtful approach to product lifecycle traceability, you will be able to link critical information allowing you to track a product and its digital assets from concept through design, manufacturing, quality, and field maintenance. This will result in productivity gains, improved response to customer needs, market expansion opportunities, and sustainable feedback loops for innovation, including the digital twin.
So, see how it’s done at ACE2021! There are some fantastic customer presentations and demonstrations of the Digital Thread at ACE this year! The event is chock full of real-world examples of how to connect, manage, and sustain a digital thread from design to the field for a variety of use cases. Register now and get started on your way to a full night’s sleep!