Looking forwad to new features in infoBoard

infoBoard international conference held in Hamburg with Andreas Hinze, Founder and Managing Director of infoBoard providing an insight into the development pipeline and new features to be soon released in the Version 3.2 (Apr/May 2017). A lot of time was also spent in discussing the work-in-progress on the new features and roadmap for the medium term.

These new features will be very useful for Australian infoBoard users and Qmani will be organising briefing sessions and site visits to clients. 2017 will be an exciting year for our infoBoard clients and many thanks to everyone at infoBoard for working hard to enhance the product’s features.

Warum können ERP-Hersteller nicht eine bessere Plantafel anbieten?

1.  In general

The best answer to the question “What can infoBoard do better than our ERP software” is: “why couldn’t the ERP manufacturer show you the better solution (not promise, not announce, but show)?”.

Answer:

Because ERP manufacturers can offer only a maximum of one visualization or a hard-to-manage interface to display the orders’ content since its structures have no flexibility.

Why it is so, is explained in point 3.

2 You have legitimate expectations of a planning interface!

2.1 What are your requirements?

In 2011, more than 3 million search terms were worldwide added to this field, 700,000 alone from the German-speaking world and approx. 20,000 employees are currently looking for a better solution for their company’s resource planning.

First message: you are not alone!

All clients have specific software needs that will help them plan better:

  1. Clarity
    2. Flexibility
    3. Good intelligibility
    4. Simultaneous planning by several employees

Of all 20,000 employees, about 10% use only the head (experience and verbal announcements), 20% handwritten notes or 60% MS Excel.

Practical example:

In an 8,000 employee company with 800 MS Project licenses, 100 licenses of special Excel software and an “unlimited” number of SAP “planning boards”, only 1 employee uses the SAP planning board. His needs for flexible planning are so small that he is the only one who is satisfied, in fact only 0.001% of planners use the SAP solution.

All other employees with planning tasks have “higher” expectations for a planning system.

We also learn that only  1% of a machine manufacturers’ employees has planning tasks with its own fitters. Planning, by nature, only affects a few work places, because it is mainly a service before a job. With infoBoard, planning can now be handled centrally by many decentralized employees. The production data collection can be comfortably visualized and since on time planning tasks add value to the operations the company’s profit will increase.

With the introduction of infoBoard in this environment internal central services such as construction and external services such as assembly and maintenance can be planned for the first time.

In addition to SAP and CRM systems, a simple, clear planning tool becomes a company’s third major standard enterprise application, which can keeps a total of 1,200 different softwares in use. SAP definitely cannot do that.

3 What are the structural differences between ERP and a planning board?

3.1 What “can” an ERP software do?

3.1.1 State of affairs

Often not all modules of the manufacturer are in use and this is linked to a lack of benefits or too high costs or too much change effort that have although not  justified it yet. After all, people want to work and concentrate in their business field and not  “suffocate” under software projects.

An ERP system contains orders. Very often it also contains the hourly billing, sometimes also the return flow from the through scanner production data acquisition, industrial terminals or machine data.

Often ONLY the data describing the order is available, sometimes also work plans are carried out, but mostly against “unlimited resources”.

If the ERP system has already the degree of maturity which takes into account the capacities of the company, machine pools are usually created so that the total capacity in a particular sector doesn’t exceed in the weekly amount.

At this point the system’s limit is reached: a statement about who what where it’s not enough, a visualization is necessary.

3.1.2 Visualization in an ERP software

At a first glance it can seem very nice. By I can tell you: it’s mostly not.

Why is that so?

Because the ERP manufacturer has invested little time for this mean. After all, there are only one or a few planning tasks in a company so far.

Quick shots and long-lasting efforts did not provide a satisfactory solution. Customers were not satisfied with these approaches. The business is unsatisfactory: the willingness to pay the high price is low, everyone wants it differently, but you have to also respect the computer limits.

By the way the companies do not want to increase planning costs!

Perhaps the need for planning has to be really understood first. This matter has been brought up at the last quality certification, but with the promise that something new would “come”.

What does this cost? Often the offers are in this price range: visualization 10,000 euro, control desk 30,000 euro, more extensive visualizations with also graphical user interfaces up to 100,000 euro, special solutions (SAP individual pieces) up to 500,000 euro.

Out of 10 SAGE software customers, 3 of them want to spend a maximum of 2,000 euro and would happily settle for a simple solution, 2 want a high-quality control center for 30,000 euro, 5 customers buy nothing because they weren’t offered the simple and flexible solution they were looking for. 

By the way in the long run hardly anybody will use the solution they bought: the simple version does not reflect reality and does not provide a good user interface.

The technical and organizational conditions of the control center are high and are well suited only for assembly line production, they arent’t suited at all for individual production.

3.2 Natural limits

At the beginning both ERP manufacturer and customer expect to find the perfect solution.

However, the task description of the planner is not to keep the system in order, but to have the orders processed by the resources of the company and to assure on- time deliveries. Here is a discrepancy between ERP manufacturer and management on one hand and the practical part on the other.

But now all information is stored centrally in complex contexts in the ERP system’s database. The preservation of the intergrity of this stock justifies the cost of the ERP system. There is also real, quality programming work in it.

Now we want to “simply” move over to a graphical interface and be able to share our work.

Because until now, all conditions had to be checked every time one more time in order to mantain data consistent. All settings had to be reinstalled, nonetheless the user requirements go further in the planning compared to the previous structures of the ERP system map. In addition, some functions such as printing all relevant forms are triggered and customers will be in that case notified.

The machines and employees’ downtime should be taken into consideration, if possible. These are boundary conditions that are not included in the ERP system!

3.3 What problems does an ERP software with flexible planning have?

The structures of the complex developed ERP system and the necessary consistency of the data do not allow a simple, fast and flexible change.

Proof: see practical example from N° 1.1

Proof N° 2: every year, SAP purchases 300 pieces of magnetic plaiting boards for the market’s wall. A planning board manufacturer personally told me in 2007.

3.3.1 Risk during the launch of an ERP planning board

It happens often that after the launch of an ERP system, you have to spend, of course, a lot of time on recording matters and suddenly you end up spending up to 1 hour a day on this system only. It’s frustrating.

The operator filters are input-oriented. In the widespread small solution called Lexware, it takes 20 minutes to visually examine the impact of a modification such as an appointment’s transfer.

The risk is that you will end up having to plan it all with your head, paper and pencil.

If the expectations of the user are not met or the planning time becomes too high, planning software will not be used. I can assure you that!

On the planning front is “tuned with the feet”.

4 This is the reason why the electronic planning boards exist

infoBoard is an operational system that aims to solve a worldwide issue :
30% represented by non value-adding activities in the company

The graphical user interface makes operations during the planning phase easy and comfortable.

The storage of the planning information in a central database offers, in contrast to wall charts and Excel, an up-to-the-second visualization for any decentralized location.

4.1 What can a planning board software do?

To explain it, the term must be defined in relation to its operational use.

There is a lot of information that have to be put together in order to present and communicate a planning result.

Some of the most importanto ones are mentioned below:

–  infoBoard should provide an overview.
– Therefore shapes, colors, symbols and abbreviations are used
– which are work as abbreviated information on infoBoard and transform give the reader an idea of what  is urgent + important, important or not important

4.1.1 Planning definition in relation to operational planning

– “Planning is the mental anticipation of future actions, you weigh up different alternatives and choose the most favorable way. Planning therefore means making decisions that effect the future and that define the operational process in all its parts, as a whole.”

– “Planning in a purpose-oriented, rational and systematic way to process  acquired information. Luck and intuition should be almost totally eliminated while realizing the programs under consideration”.

Four-step process of planning:

  • Level: collecting information
  • Stage: Drawing up alternative plans
  • Stage: Choosing an alternative
  • Level: Revision

4.1.1 Planning means: decide!

Planning also means, at the end, deciding:

If you find it difficult to make a decision, it is usually because there are too many tasks or too complicated interrelations between them.
“Complicated interrelations” mean that you have a large number of alternatives to choose from or alternatives with a variety of properties that need to be weighed.

This way as human resources, we make better decisions in the company, without having to write a program for it:

– Collecting information: everything is on infoBoard
– Determine alternatives: which are available between A, B and C?
– Write down conditions: each decision has conditions that must be always fulfilled. An alternative that does not fulfill them will be eliminated.
– Write down criteria points: what is desirable / necessary
– Evaluate alternatives: with the previous criteria you could name the framework  that was important for your decision. Evaluate how well each alternative meets the criteria given.
– Determine the winner: based on the previous evaluations you can calculate the winner.

An example

– Conditions are for example: promised delivery dates, an achieved status like “material delivered”
– Criteria are: “which order can be finished now”
– “Which important customers (orders) should be give special attention to”
– “Which orders can be billed”

4.1.3 Desperately looking for

A measuring system for time control of the daily operations of those responsible for production and delivery

Worldwide Fact is:

30% of added value per employee is missing, because executives do not plan and steer properly. This costs about 10,000 euro per employee per year.

The lack

So far, there is a lack of meaningful figures for the daily planning and control of resources.

An operative management system for daily planning, control and reports with target is missing.

The strategy

To achieve the goal savings, daily operations must be improved by installing end-to-end management systems, efficient processes, fixed responsibilities, and appropriate training programs.

The actual situation

The follow up management process has to be reorganized. An evolution from passive to pro-active follow-up management is possible by implementing a system that actively tracks and updates ongoing supplements.

Afterwards it is necessary to increase the efficiency and utilization of the employees. The best way to that is to install a planning and measuring system for time control of daily operations. Three key functions are designed for this purpose: planning, performance and utilization

 

4.2 The brain processes images faster

It has been proved that with infoBoard are used parts of the brain that scientific studies define as key skills such as:

The effect of mental processing

Conscious data processing far more limited than the unconscious one

In numbers:

– 11 million bits per second can be recorde

-Only 40 bits per second can be processed consciously while the rest is processed unconsciously

Consequence: In terms of information recording, speech is far less efficient than taking pictures

Another important difference:

– Images can be processed holistically

– Language can be processed only sequentially, in small units of meaning

Consequence:

– Images are processed much faster than speech

– “Screenshots in the brain”

Other characteristic of image processing:

– Image processing as an analog and spatial logic

– Spatial arrangement of the figurative elements crucial for the associations

this will cause

Memory effect:

Images are far better to be memorized than language

– Studies show: test people were shown 2500 pictures and even after three days they could still remember over 90% of the pictures

4.2.1 The effect of imagery (Picture Superiority Effect)

The fact that images can be better memorized, stored and retrieved than text can therefore stimulate employees. The superiority of images over texts is based on two factors:

(1) Images are easier to record and recipients remember them more easily.

(2) Their recording happens mostly in an unconscious way.

This is the reason why there are rules for an effective image layout that aims to achieve an optimal communication effect. According to Werner Kroeber-Riel: “Pictures are screenshots into the brain. To take a picture of moderate complexity, it takes only one to or two seconds. This is due to the fact that pictures are taken and processed mostly in an automatic way with little mental effort. Because of their effortless recording, images are therefore especially suitable for reaching little-involved, passive recipients and for leading them to acquire information. “

The processing of images by the human brain works in a holistic and analogous way.                                                                                                                                     The processing of linguistic devices, on the other hand, and especially written information is usually sequential and digital, so it must be processed in a linear sequence of symbolic information, according to logical-analytical rules and translated into contexts of meaning. With holistic, analogous processing of images I mean that images can be quickly captured by a fleeting impression and recognized in their basic features.

Even without a close look, a first impression of the picture emerges, which can be considered as an emotional entry during the process of perception. This peripheral stimulus allows the brain to compare what it sees with stored internal schema images, allowing a rapid mental processing of the images.

The analogue image process is a processing pattern where an image of an item can be so accurate that while looking at it you get the feeling you are looking at the item itself. This also results in better storage of the pictorial information.

The Picture-Superiority-Effect can also be transferred to complex contents. Illustrations are perceived faster and people remember them better than linguistic abstract representations. Above all, images’ power of influencing is based on the fact that images are perceived as reality. Images are capable of creating a second, fictitious reality.

4.2.2 Opportunities

With infoBoard all visualization needs are fulfilled; more than what you can achieve with MS Excel.

Effects of planning changes are automatically enforced with all dependencies in one step and no information is lost. This is not possible with MS Excel.

Comprehensibility: the actions described above can also be done with MS Project. The viewer can although see only one project at the time and cannot estimate the impact it will have on resources, since more planners have access to the same resources.

Planning has not an end in itself, but must be communicated to the other “planners”. Planning must therefore be updated (real-time) and must be comprehensible to all individuals which are mostly commercial employees. MS Project fails to do this.

4.3 Effects of the introduction of a planning software in a company

-Centralized filing and centralized information
-Less information deficits
-More reliability towards employees and customers
-Less hectic decisions
-More structural flexibility instead of adhoc flexibility in a chaotic system
-Less trouble for employees and customers
-Constant updates about “how my company is going”
-After climbing this “mountain”: new horizons for new solutions
-Application of process analysis becomes possible
-Application in more business sectors

5 The process of decision making

5.1. Project: introduction of a planning software in my company

It is very important that the requirements are written down if the planning tasks are specific.

But you do not have to formulate any requirements if you want to provide a wastebasket (where not only paper ends up!). See point 5.1.1.

5.1.1 Situation 1: Do I have standard needs?

If you have, then choose infoBoard as your company’s electronic planning board software. Performance is excellent, has great potential and has a reasonable price.

5.1.2 Situation 2: Do I have special needs?

In that case, I should be able to quickly write down what these special needs are.    I have to find someone at the ERP manufacturer who understands me, I have to believe what he tells me, I will then I get a cost estimate and finally a project will be set up for me.

The risk is that after 1-2 years I realize that I did not know how complicated the implementation of my requirements would have been and that the ERP manufacturer did not foresee how complicated the user was.

5.1.3 Therefore the solution for special needs is:

In order to map my special requirements and to get to know my needs, I choose infoBoard as a project-accompanying tool.

On infoBoard I can display everything I need within 2 days. I am flexible in the planning. I can show this to my boss and, if necessary, also to the ERP manufacturer.

Each session is effective because we “have it in front of our eyes” during meetings. Each project member has access to the tool. People do not discuss things theoretically, but try them physically. We find similarities and agree on a workable planning.

Everyone understands me and my needs, we are all on the same level.

The description of my requirements is complete. I didn’t forget anything.

It is also important to write down which information I need from the ERP system.  The amount is usually smaller than what I expect. I can evaluate what is really necessary to exchange information successfully between different systems.

The risks I am taking with the following steps is small.

I get an offer from the ERP manufacturer, which contains all the requirements that I now know I need.

I decide on the basis of a functioning planning, whether I should purchase an interface or accept an expensive offer from the ERP manufacturer, which repays the costs with a resignation clause in case of non-fulfillment.

At the same time, I think about whether I can spend an year on this project.

5.2 Project “Implementation of a planning board software in my company”

60 days are needed for a systematic planning with graphical tools

The first step is to agree with the management board about the advantages of a graphic planning system in the company: decision yes / no

Second step: decide with the IT to install a test system through infoBoard

Third step: arrange a 2-day in-house workshop

This 2 days workshop help to develop a better functionality in the company

Then 40 days are necessary to implement what it has been learned so far

The project requires a small circle of participants (1 -3 employees)

Ask questions about infoBoard

Report to executives

Throughout the project give clarifications about the relationship ERP interface / infoBoard

Final report and presentation of the experience

Purchase decision: yes / no

 

6 Management Summary “What can infoBoard do better than SAP”?

6.1 A planning interface should be up to the responsabilities given to it

With infoBoard, the planning can be recorded and processed mostly automatically with little mental effort, in just two seconds thanks to the pictorial representation. Planning alternatives are visualized in real time. This helps to make quick decisions. Change options in the planning are flexible and change takes place easily and immediately thanks to the graphical functions. All planning boards in the company are automatically updated by push technology.

Fundamental actions such as understanding relationships fast, making decisions quickly to solve problems and immediate implementation in the planning system.

6.2 The right decision for a planning tool

With infoBoard, the planner can himself form an accurate scheme of order processing.

The tool is “off the shelf” to buy and can be ready to use within 1 hour. The price and the performance are given in advance.

An interface for data from the ERP system is already available to clients. The ERP manufacturer has to write out and transfer more or less 5 attributes per order.

The complex structures of an SAP Enterprise Resource Planning System and the required consistency of data do not allow flexible side-by-side planning, so that complex plausibility can be maintained.

The ERP manufacturer will not show what expected; an all-inclusive integrated solution, but a partner solution. It has to be customized, but this cannot fulfill even the smallest expectations of the planner.

The graphical representation may seem at first like a planning board, but flexible changes aren’t in anyway possible.

The ERP system must be kept consistent at every step, but it does not contain all the information pf the planning board. The planner must personally consider what effects changes could have, which often have not easy to manage forma such as text-based forms

Support? Wrong!

Normally in this case you get in contact with someone with no experience of a planning board, who doesn’t know about dates or fixed prices. The risk remains at a high final price for the client alone.

6.3 Successful introduction of infoBoard or failed ERP planning board project

The infoBoard implementation is sure to be successful, inexpensive and quick.

Only when infoBoard is introduced can the customer identify and articulate his actual needs and present 6 months later to the ERP manufacturer – if desired by the manager- a complete specification for the submission of an additive system from an SAP partner. The person responsible for planning would not be able nor would she/ he have the time to do so.

SAP planning board: if the planner cannot work quickly with the provided tool, he will not use it. It is measured by the final result and a correct planning. The project would have failed and the intended benefits in daytime operation would not have been achieved.

What do you think ?