Chances are, your team didn’t choose to work in the orthopedic implant manufacturing business because they couldn’t cut it as firefighters.
Yet that’s what they’re doing, many days: putting out fires. They’re searching for inventory that’s suddenly needed right now—but it’s a pain to pinpoint where it actually is. They’re handling a burden of case management while the phone won’t stop ringing and pinging. They burn a lot of time tracking down people, parts, lots numbers, locations, and other details.
And, to take the firefighter analogy further, they’re handling these fires with the equivalent of a garden hose with low water pressure set on trickle. Their tools are their email inbox, an array of Excel docs, and perhaps QuickBooks, that, arranged into a flow, constitute a system.
A system on which the performance and growth of your business rests. Precariously.
Does any of this describe you and your team? If so, we’d like to pull back the curtain on the top five reasons you should embrace digital transformation and revolutionize your operations—beyond Excel and email.
#1: Reduce chaos.
Let’s just start at the top: almost no one actually thrives in chaos. Some people are hard-wired to survive in chaos, but almost no one relishes actually operating day in and day out in chaos. (If this is you, that’s all well and good—but we’re willing to bet that your team isn’t feeling it along with you).
Simply put, digital transformation revolutionizes the process by which the business of business gets done. Digital transformation is the application of digital technology and automation to cumbersome processes—think data entry, manual searching, or redundant processes. When these are automated, that automation takes the pressure off a human being. It takes what can be a very real bottleneck out of a process entirely.
Think about how access to a single source of truth—on which surgeons or products are trending up or down, on where inventory is, on what’s been paid and what’s owed—might do to the chaos of everyday operations. And think about how a reduction in that systemic chaos might actually feel to everyone involved in moving your business forward. That’s powerful.
Chris Wilson, co-founder and VP of Operations for ImplantBase, which provides a software platform to effect digital transformation for orthopedic implant manufacturers, sees this reality in action all the time. “As we’re transitioning clients, we hear the same thing over and over. As they’re walking us through the process, we’re hearing all these places where the team notes, ‘I’m transitioning from this system to this system.’ There’s a better way, because every time you switch system to system, you’re adding unnecessary chaos to your operations.”
#2: Optimize your inventory usage.
What if you knew who had what—and where it was? And how quickly it could get where it was needed? What if your team could search by part number, lot number, serial number? What if you had easy, instant access to historical usage information?
Now, imagine the transformative power of real-time visibility into your inventory. What would that do for your field network and your sales operations staff?
It would let you get the most out of your current, under-utilized inventory—which would drive revenue and profitability. If you’re a smaller manufacturer in your early growth phase, you’ll be able to meet demand with production. You’re more mature, perhaps midsize? Think about pacing production properly with demand.
Optimizing your inventory usage offers real potential for improved business performance across your functions—and it’s made possible through digital tools like real-time visibility.
#3: Identify opportunities to unlock working capital.
From a finance perspective, much of your working capital can be locked in your current inventory. It costs money to produce product, and if that product can’t be moved to where demand is, you’re not realizing your profit in that product at the optimal moment. Other situations also contribute to your working capital being tied up in inventory—delays in sales order to PO, for instance.
With better visibility and data-driven decision-making, you’ll be able to find opportunities to free working capital that’s currently trapped in your inventory. With those resources available, you’ll be able to reinvest: in new product, more surgeon training, more incentives for sales people, or in research and development that leads to innovation. The benefits of access to more working capital improve possibilities across considerations of scale and stage, from startups to large manufacturers.
#4: Increase employee retention.
It’s everywhere and inescapable today: talented workers seek meaningful work that challenges them intellectually and creatively. Call it the curse or blessing of the millennial generation, but the concept of meaningful work is here to stay. And meaningful work goes a really long way towards engagement, performance, loyalty, and retention.
If your team is stuck putting out fires, mired in the tedium of data entry and infinitely repeated manual processes, and using antiquated tools, we can pretty much guarantee that they’re not engaged in meaningful work. Instead, endemic chaos is contributing to burnout, which causes employees to leave. And departures lead to more chaos, so it’s a vicious cycle.
But if you can reshape and repurpose their roles as a result of digital transformation, you can refocus people on the work that systems and tools can’t perform: cultivating relationships that lead to better deals, using data to look at decision-making in a new light, and innovating better ways of meeting demand. You also reduce dependency on the “heroes” on your team who know everything and keep the company humming. Transformation not only gives your team meaningful work, it staves talent drain and reduces dependency on particular individuals. You’ll also see productivity rise—and all these factors drive better performance and higher profits.
#5: Meet the future prepared.
While of course every industry faces change today, the orthopedic medical device industry faces a bevy of shifts: UDI and MDR regulations and pricing pressure from hospitals are just the beginning. There are surely more to come. A system focussed specifically on industry needs that can update as aspects of a business change with growth, regulation, and sales force alignment is beyond valuable.
The point to take away here is: the world is changing rapidly. But at the heart of human nature is the competitive drive. If you don’t seize every opportunity to your advantage, someone else will.
Digital transformation can drive performance improvement across every aspect of your business, from operational efficiency to increased revenue and improvements in ROI. And digital transformation will touch every industry, even those ripe for change that haven’t quite embraced the tools and imperative yet. Yet the benefits are real—and the time to reap them is now.
ImplantBase is a leader in digital transformation for the orthopedic implant industry. Its platform provides manufacturers of every size with a unique cloud-based solution that transforms how the business operates on every level and across your critical functions of finance, sales, and operations. If your team is ready to embrace the future, give us 30 minutes to assess your performance. We’ll show you a roadmap to digital transformation.