This is a guest post by Richard Lindstrom from eBOM based in Sweden. eBOM provides cutting edge Lean consulting for R&D companies like SenSair, Trimble and DeLaval. After seeing the "Wow" in Playbook, eBOM decided to become a reseller of Playbook software.
Remote working and R & D
15 years ago, I didn’t know anyone that worked away from the office, unless they were traveling and were working at the airport…
Today in Sweden (and perhaps worldwide), it's quite common to work from home at least one day per week, especially if your commute to work is long. But as R&D work is basically a big group assignment, you need access to your co-workers results and their input frequently. Although at home I guess you could focus on the stuff you can do on your own - the things that don’t require interaction from your co-workers.
"Companies who adopt Playbook
and work differently as a result,
will bypass the competition."
In the last few years the number of web based (cloud) applications that give you access to the same environment as your co-workers --no matter where you are -- have exploded. Basically you only need to log in to have the same view as you do while in your office, whether you are traveling, in a meeting room, or at home. These programs give you the freedom to do not only the work you can do by yourself, but also the ability to do the ”group assignment” from a distance and get away with it!
Work from Anywhere
The main task for a R&D department is to create a "recipe" for a new/improved product. If you pick up your laptop and leave the office you will no longer lose contact with the IT system since your Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system which holds your recipe is in the cloud, and accessible from wherever you happen to be. The ability to access work from anywhere opens up new opportunities. You need to stay at home because the kids are sick? Instead of spending the time in front of the TV when the kids are sleeping, you can just pick up your laptop, log in and do ‘real work’ ;-).
To be honest this way of working was available before cloud applications entered the scene. Larger companies enabled ‘access from anywhere’ through Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). However, VPNs were prohibitively expensive for smaller companies. The "new" thing is that cloud based services are a lot less expensive.
Even start-ups with really small budgets can run a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system in the Cloud. The cloud systems are scalable and work well for really big companies as well; the scaling is what keeps them secure and inexpensive while still delivering a very rich feature set. Sharing infrastructure with a lot of other companies means lower costs, and cloud service providers invest more time and money in enhancing the product then even the biggest of companies can afford.
But what about the team work part, such as when you need to see your coworkers for project meetings and report progress? It’s not enough to only access BOM’s and documents in the PLM system. Each team member needs to know what they are expected to deliver and when. They also need to know if there are any changes in the plan. Importantly, what should they be doing today?
When in the office, it’s easy to ask the project manager or line manager for a debrief, but when working from home they are more difficult to get a hold of. Is there any solution to cross-team and cross-organization project management in the cloud as well?
Yes there are several solutions to this problem.
If you mainly do software design there are numerous cloud-based services available. You have the same access to the plan as when you are in the office. It’s business as usual.
However, if you are in electronics, mechanical, optics, production optimization, purchasing, etc. -- complicated projects involving hardware and software -- until recently, there was no solution. But now there is Playbook. Playbook is a fully featured, fit for purpose, new product development project management tool to manage all your work, tasks and resources.
Playbook is a cloud application too and gives you visibility to all the tasks everyone on your team is working on today and/or plans to do in the future. It is really easy to see if the work is critical, or if it can wait. (Critical work is work that if delayed, will delay the entire project. )
What sets Playbook apart
Playbook gives you an excellent tool to understand the most important task to work on today, to automatically report to the team what work you have completed, and to show what you have chosen to push into the future.
If you are involved in multiple projects, as well as maintenance tasks, it's hard work to understand what is really the most important thing to work on today. As Playbook manages and provides a real-time view of all these activities for you and your coworkers, everyone on the team gets a cross-project and cross-functional overview of the situation. And if anything changes you see it right away. No more waiting for a meeting to understand that the delivery from a supplier is not going to happen on time. This means that you can change your priorities sooner based on new information and choose to pick up other tasks that aren’t related to the delivery.
Because of cloud based project management tools, working on complex projects has never been easier. The ability to see in real-time, what is happening is really a game changer. Companies who adopt Playbook and work differently as a result, will bypass the competition.
Make your work life simple with cloud applications. Making work visible allows everyone to understand the situation. Trust your team to do the right thing!