The Role of Automation in Managing Capital Expense Projects In The Manufacturing Industry
This is the second post in our new Automate Your Industry blog series. Today, we’re focusing on specific ways companies in manufacturing can benefit from NextProcess’s software modules. (We’ll have more industries coming up in the next few weeks.) You can read the previous post in this series here: “Your Guide To Using Automation to Improve Accounts Payable and Procurement In The Manufacturing Industry.”
Often when the topic of automation comes up in relation to manufacturing, people talk about industrial automation. That sort of automation uses smart machines to carry out the manufacturing process with minimal human intervention. Business process automation (BPA) is similar, but handles a different set of tasks. It lets you automate office work related to accounting, purchasing, capital project management, and much more. In this post, we’re going to focus on capital project management and how capital expense (CapEx) automation can help you in your manufacturing business.
The Importance of Capital Project Management
Like any investment, acquiring capital assets or beginning a new capital project requires a careful assessment process. This process can quickly become very complicated, especially when you’re managing multiple plants that may be in different states or even countries. The easier you can make it to see what’s happening in all your major projects, the better it is for everyone.
Capital projects can include everything from building a new factory to maintaining an old building to investing in an improved manufacturing process. These sorts of projects typically represent a sizable investment. They’re a major purchase and/or a long-term project that requires a significant amount of company resources. We’re not just talking money, although that’s a major part of it. There’s also an investment in manpower and time.
Because capital expenses often have a significant impact on a company’s future, making wise decisions regarding which projects to invest in is key to managing resources. In order to do that, you need a capital project management system that lets you evaluate project proposals and choose the ones which will have the best return on investment. You’ll also need a way to track and manage the projects after they’ve been approved. Many companies currently do this using Excel, but that is not the most effective solution.
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Automation vs. Excel: Project Proposals
Let’s start with one illustration of how automation can change and improve the way your manufacturing company approaches capital projects. Many companies currently rely on Excel spreadsheets to keep track of their capital projects. That can work just fine for managing a few projects. However, the larger your business grows the more difficult it gets to efficiently manage projects using spreadsheets. Excel doesn’t let you track projects in real-time, and the more people working on a spreadsheet the greater the risk of errors. Those are just two of several reasons Excel is terrible for your business.
For this example, let’s suppose that you’re a manufacturing company with several plants. Each year, you have a company-wide budget for capital projects. Multiple plant managers submit project proposals, making a case for why their project deserves priority when you’re allocating funds.
If you’re using Excel, there’s no easy way to compare the different proposals. The longer everyone works with each spreadsheet the more complicated they become. Plus, the format probably isn’t consistent across all the proposals because everyone has their own way of putting together spreadsheets. The whole process is complicated, time-consuming, and inefficient.
Enter CapEx automation. When plant managers are ready to submit a project proposal they simply log-in to the system and generate one there. Automated features keep the proposal format consistent and also make it very easy to compare the different projects. The system tracks changes to each project and logs all the communication related to that project. You can even attach spreadsheets, PDFs, and other project files so everything’s all in one place. This makes it much easier to evaluate proposals and figure out which ones will make your company money.
Managing Capital Projects With CapEx Automation
The benefits of capital project management software go far beyond the ability to create and evaluate project proposals more efficiently. Once you’ve decided which projects to focus on, our software gives you the tools you need to track and manage those projects.
NextProcess software lets you set up one central system for managing all the capital projects for your manufacturing company. On the executive level, this lets you see where all the money for capital projects is at any given moment. The system updates in real-time so you always know which projects are on-schedule, which ones are struggling, and whether or not you need to move money around. Our software also enables communication and collaboration within the management platform.
All the information about your capital projects is stored in one place. This makes it very easy to track projects, access information, and oversee every capital project. We also tailor the user experience based on an employee’s specific role. For example, individual plant managers only have access to the projects they are in charge of. You can get as granular as you like in managing access for individual users, even down to the level where you control who can see which icon on the screen. And with NextProcess, you can grant access to as many employees as you want at no additional cost.
CapEx automation can also help with projects that you’re already managing in Excel. Our software can pull in a wide variety of files including Excel spreadsheets, PDFs, images, and much more. We can capture images of these files to use in the capital project management software and/or attach the original file to the project within our software. Plus, our software tracks all the communication related to that project so you can look back and have a record of every decision made and question asked about a specific capital project.
Why NextProcess Is The Best Choice
Our software makes it easy to evaluate capital project proposals. We also streamline management for CapEx after approval and throughout the life of the project. Communication and collaboration are simple and easy within the software platform. You won’t have to deal with any of the issues that can come up from losing track of important communications or overlooking key developments.
To make things even easier for your business, NextProcess’s software is highly configurable and flexible. Instead of forcing you to adjust your process to our software, we do everything we can to adjust our software to your company’s specific needs. We’ll show you how to use our software to incorporate custom fields, variable routing, automated reporting, and much more. Our system also scales into your needs. It can grow with your company, without you ever needing to worry about software updates or trying to scale-up functionality.
If you’re ready to see how much Capital Management Software can help your company, contact us and schedule a free demo. We’ll answer any questions you have and give you a first-hand look at how our software can enhance your manufacturing company’s project management.