SAP ERP Cockpits Drive Demand for Versatile Manufacturing Workforce

The rising need for multi-skilled hourly workers will become a noticeable trend in the manufacturing sector during 2011. The roots of this situation go back to 2009, when manufacturers widely responded to the recession by laying off workers, which left remaining personnel with increased workloads. At the same time, many enterprises recruited new C-suite leaders to streamline enterprise processes in order to save as much money as possible. Middle managers soon found themselves doing more work while facing expectations to achieve greater results.

One middle manager might have suddenly faced the directive to handle purchasing while also monitoring sub-contractors and suppliers, in addition to other responsibilities. In this type of environment, where multiple sets of responsibilities are compounded on one employee, it quickly becomes clear that spreadsheet-based enterprise planning is completely inadequate. The manager then responds to pressure from upper management by explaining the inefficiency of using spreadsheets to gather the data needed and asking for automated reporting.

This shift led manufacturers to look at enterprise resource planning (ERP) as a capital investment, which created increased interest in software solutions like itelligence’s it.manufacturing. To meet the needs of multitasking users, full-service ERP provider itelligence had to discover the best way to give managers all the information they need in one easily accessible location.

We at itelligence responded by offering more SAP ERP cockpits. In an SAP cockpit, the manager we discussed earlier has instant access to data on purchasing, sub-contractors, suppliers and any other necessary information—all in one screen. As a preconfigured SAP ERP solution for midmarket manufacturers, it.manufacturing comes out of the box with far greater accuracy, integration, automation, and comprehensiveness than the best spreadsheet-based enterprise program. SAP cockpits make the solution even more accommodating to manufacturers by meeting the needs of multi-tasking managers.

Unlike 2009, manufacturing today appears to be on the upswing. While the supply chain was depleted two years ago, and orders to refill the depleted stocks came last year, recent increases in orders have sparked a return to true market demand for manufacturers. With true demand growth comes the need for increased hourly staff. Manufacturers who invested in ERP as a capital expense now need workers who can run a scanner just as well as they operate a forklift—and chances are that the forklift will have an ERP RF screen requiring additional skills.

As the unemployment rate remains undesirably low, an increasingly competitive pool of job candidates will vie for opportunities. Those who secure new jobs will be workers who can manufacture on the line, store inventory in the warehouse, and operate computers with equal dexterity.

The need for multi-skilled manufacturing personnel has come full-circle from 2009, when a shrunken workforce turned middle management into multi-taskers who pushed for and adopted ERP solutions. Those solutions will in turn drive an increased demand for versatile—multi-tasking–shop-floor workers during 2011.

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