Manufacturing Project Management Software Buyers’ Guide: 3 Practical Benefits with Cora

Screenshot of Cora Assistant PPM Software

This Buyer’s Guide for Manufacturing Project Management Software looks at 3 areas where Cora PPM is particularly strong: advanced financials, document management and strategic workforce planning.

Male engineer wearing a yellow hard hat looking at an ipad in a factory with a yellow robotic machine in the background

Introduction: the manufacturing sector today

“Manufacturers seek an upper hand by integrating operational data…The risks from not “connecting the dots” can be significant.”  -Deloitte1

According to Deloitte’s 2022 Manufacturing Industry Outlook,1 there are five principal challenges that the sector is faced with today, the first of which is supply chain disruption.

Supply Chain Disruption

All your parts, products, machines and people produce an ever-growing mountain of data. As, more and more, every single square inch of everything has a sensor attached to it, monitoring its progress and tracking its every move. What your software does is to gather and organize all that data in a central location, so that everyone who needs to can access all that information.

So when the arrival of parts at your factory in Florida are delayed because of a driver’s dispute in Michigan, you won’t have to pay for people and machinery, as they sit idly on the factory floor waiting for everything to arrive. Because crucially, all those data sets are being constantly updated in real time. And are immediately available for everyone to have access to.

Watch this video on Cora’s ‘Supply Chain Sync with Schedule’.

Labor shortages

One of the clearest trends to emerge from the current labor market is the fact that employees want more than just a healthy salary. They want to feel that they’re actively contributing and are making a difference. One of the most common complaints you hear from workers is that they keep being assigned tasks they’re clearly over-qualified for. Or, alternatively, that they were asked to do things they weren’t trained for.

That’s because companies are constantly taking on projects they’re not capable of delivering on, because they think they can’t afford to say no. So the wrong people end up working on the wrong projects, as companies struggle to cope with their workload. You have to be able to see, at a glance, exactly what assets you have at your disposal so you can properly plan your portfolio. Only then can you competently assign and manage your projects so that appropriately qualified people end up working on the right projects.

In other words, effective capacity planning and efficient resource management is only possible when you have Strategic Workforce Planning functionality.

Smart factories

Robotics in AI with Cora lens in the bottom left corner. Man is looking at controls on iPad.

“Smart factories are one of the keys to driving competitiveness.” – Deloitte1

Over the last decade or so, the world of manufacturing has been transformed by the advent of smart factories, which work in three key areas. First, next generation robots now include self-driving vehicles, drones and ‘cobots’, robots that work in collaboration with, or next to you. As well as increasingly efficient machines that count, catalogue, store or collect, so workers are freed up to perform more productive tasks.

Second, there’s the fact that you now get analytics from absolutely everywhere, thanks to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and the bandwidth that 5G gives us. More and more components, parts, products and machines, the things, have sensors producing reams of data, that get analyzed and organized via the Internet.

Finally, technology means that a huge amount of what gets done in manufacturing can be performed by people working from pretty much anywhere. All of which depends on your data being managed, organized and constantly updated, in real time, so whoever needs to can see them.

Cybersecurity

All the things that make smart factories possible also make manufacturing especially vulnerable to cyberattacks. The vast number of moving parts that the manufacturing process requires, and the fact that all that data can only be efficiently organized digitally and or online, means that anyone can mount an attack, from literally anywhere in the world.

Spyware, ransomware, malware and trojan horses are used to blackmail companies and target commercially sensitive data. Which can then be sold to rivals or used to produce fakes. But the biggest vulnerability comes from the continued use of legacy software systems.

The latest software packages are actually pretty good at keeping pace with the kind of tech employed by the criminal underworld. That’s not the problem. It’s not fiendishly sophisticated technology that make cyber criminals so dangerous. They’re just relying on the fact that most businesses are too busy, or don’t fully appreciate how important it is, to update the software they rely on.

ESG investment

“Investors, boards, customers, employees, and policymakers continue to focus on ESG (and) diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are increasingly a business imperative.” – Deloitte1

You need to be able to demonstrate that how you source, make and distribute whatever service or product you provide is done in a way you can stand over. That it doesn’t involve child labor or dealing with a morally reprehensible regime. That you’re doing everything you can to reduce the emissions it produces. And that what you do isn’t done simply to provide your senior executives with outlandish bonuses.

The way you demonstrate all of that is with metrics. In other words, it all comes down to data. Once your data is managed and organized in a centralized depository by your software, you can access any of those metrics whenever anyone asks you for them. As Deloitte concludes,

“Centralizing a manufacturing control tower can bring together data from different facilities, production lines, and equipment and visualize dependencies on suppliers and effects on logistics.” – Deloitte.1

The Cora’s software solution enables you to address all of the above because it makes you the control tower, in charge of all that data. So you can effortlessly orchestrate all of your activities. And there are three areas specific to manufacturing that Cora has been purpose-designed and built to significantly improve.

1. Advanced financials – Project Controls

“Manufacturers face near-continuous disruptions globally that add costs and test abilities to adapt.” – Deloitte1

Cora’s Project Controls has been designed to give our manufacturing clients exactly the kind of advanced financials they’ve been asking us for. As a matter of fact, a client of ours approached us not so long ago to ask whether they could take their financials and populate their schedule with them.

They’d been finding it frustratingly difficult to get their project managers to keep their schedules up to date. The PMs had no difficulty inputting their financials, their forecasts and their various estimates at completion (EACs). So they knew how important all of that was. They just didn’t get around to inputting everything into the actual schedule. Image of Cora Systems PPM - ESG SCREEN In other words, it was much more important for the PM to focus in on their financials, rather than on their schedules. Because the important thing for them are project costs. So the most useful feature for them is a tool that lets you track all the changes to costs that occur over the course of a project. Because if you’re not on top of any changes to your EACs, then very quickly you lose control of your project.

If for instance, you’re building a new factory to manufacture from, and the cost of the cement that you’re going to need goes up by 20% in the middle of the project, you have to be able to factor that increase into your costs, to produce revised estimates. Alternatively, those costs might be 10% less than originally forecast. That too has to be inputted so adjustments can be made. And that needs to be done on a continual basis, as there are a constant stream of changes that all projects have to factor in as they progress.

This is what differentiates Cora from so many of the other products on the market. Other systems have extraordinarily limited scope around the tracking of costs. Which is strange, because costs are central to all businesses, especially to those in manufacturing.

It’s Cora’s ability to enable you to track costs in such a detailed and continuous way that makes it such a powerful tool. It gives invaluable insights into your financials, and means you can carefully track a project’s costs as it progresses through each stage of its lifecycle.

2. Daily logs -Document Management

“53% of surveyed organizations plan to enhance data integration for supply-and-demand visibility and planning.” – Deloitte1

Screenshot of Cora System PPM Software - Audit Trail

The manufacturing process involves a myriad of moving parts, sets of machines and groups of people. So you need to have people on the factory floor, or on site, tracking the daily interactions that take place. Because every day, thousands of change orders get generated.

But because of the large number of registers that many companies have detailing their workflows, many of them continue to operate using mountains of spreadsheets. That’s because most software products aren’t designed to flexibly handle change orders, or because the PM doesn’t trust the one they have to do so reliably. Screenshot of Cora PPM Document Management software So when something goes wrong, and something will always go wrong when you’re working on a large, sprawling project, and you and the various contractors and sub-contractors end up in court, you’re going to be asked for the daily logs in your document management system.

Because you need to be able to demonstrate that the reason you failed to meet your deadline and deliver X task on such and such a date, was because contractor Y had failed to complete task Z by their deadline. So it wasn’t physically possible for you to do what you’d been contracted to. And you then need to be able to produce documents and images to back up your claims, detailing all and any exchanges between you and contractor Y, and anyone else involved.

Seamless Dispute Resolution and Document Management with Cora

Cora provides you with a user-friendly interface and a system that time, date and user stamps every action to give you an automatically generated audit trail. This feature is invaluable, especially when documenting activities outside the schedule. Cora’s logically structured system simplifies the retrieval of information, and with a simple export function, you can effortlessly compile necessary documentation.

The platform’s adaptability and easy configuration help provide you with an accurate and up-to-date daily log, and is an indispensable tool for avoiding unnecessary fines and penalties.

3. Strategic workforce planning

“We estimate a shortfall of 2.1 million skilled jobs by 2030.” – Deloitte1

Manufacturing goes through periods of high and low demand, some of which is predictable but a lot of which comes out of the blue. Like the decrease in the demand for microchips during the pandemic and the sudden increase in that demand after the correction that followed.

In response to which, a project manager will end up putting in a request for someone with a specific skill to work on X. But he’ll have no idea who’s going to get assigned to that task. His request goes into the system, and the system will deal with it. And when you’re part of a large organization, you don’t have dozens of large projects, you have thousands of them. And each one of those large projects has hundreds of mini projects within them.

So you need to have an accurate and up to date idea of exactly what resources you have, what your current projects need, what you’re going to need, and for how long each resource or asset is going to be needed for on each of the different projects.

Are you going to have to move people around from within your organization, or do you need to bring contractors in from outside? If so, for how long, and on how permanent a basis? You have to stay lean and agile so you need to be able to say, we’re going to have a problem with X in 4 months’ time, if we don’t do something about that particular skills shortage now.

What you need then is to be able to identify the skills you’re going to need across all your projects, and when you’re going to need them. And to then roll that up across your schedules in a reliable and accurate way. Which precisely what Cora’s strategic workforce planning functionality has been designed to do for you. Screenshot of Cora Assistant PPM Software

    1. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/energy-resources/us-2022-manufacturing-industry-outlook.pdf

Cora – ‘famously easy to use’

We put a huge amount of effort into making Cora something people genuinely look forward to using. Which is the reason we’ve acquired that happy epithet, of being ‘famously easy to use’. It genuinely is. That’s because it’s been built as a no code/low code platform. So effectively, it gets configured twice.

First, when you decide to go with Cora, we sit down with you to configure the out-of-the-box Cora so that it does exactly what you need it to. That’s the low code part. We then pair you off with a Customer Success Team to make sure that the implementation goes exactly according to plan. So they can make any further tweaks that might be needed in terms of how your Cora is configured. Screenshot of Cora PPM Dashboard  Then, once you ‘go live’, you’ll quickly see the emergence of Cora champions. That’s because it really is ‘famously easy to use’. Whenever you’re starting a new project, or setting up, say, a Portal from one of the existing templates, so that a particular stakeholder only gets to see exactly what you want them to, you simply drag and drop whichever of the features you want included in it. It really is that simple.

And if you still a little lost, you can consult our Cora Assistant. It’s there on the top right-hand corner of your screen.

Cora offers a uniquely flexible solution for whatever your challenges are. Whether what you need is that 30,000-foot, bird’s-eye view of your portfolio, or a detailed, granular view into each and every stage of your project’s lifecycle. Or, indeed, both. Cora provides you with that unrivalled and effortless visibility. It’s all there on your dashboard.

Find out more and watch a demo now

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