August 24, 2020
Today, one in five Americans live with a disability and two-thirds of working-age Americans with disabilities are unemployed. PRIDE Industries is a non-profit social enterprise that carries out contract manufacturing services, but also primarily aims to help people overcome employment obstacles and help them to lead productive, independent lives as contributing members of their communities.
Founded in 1966 in the basement of a church in California, PRIDE Industries has a long history of representing the "single largest and most diverse minority in the country", it claims.
In recent months the organisation has not only started migrating from Infor's LN ERP to a cloud-based suite, with the help of the vendor's Implementation Accelerator's programme, but has also found that its agility in working with people living with disabilities has helped it respond effectively to the COVID-19 crisis.
PRIDE Industries CIO Alan McMillan was speaking recently at Infor's Manufacturing Virtual Summit, where he explained that 75% of the company's 5,000+ employees live with disabilities and work with the organisation's customers. Industry 4.0 and the use of modern digital tools is going to be key to PRIDE's success in the future, McMillan said:
"As a contract manufacturer we have to be competitive in the marketplace to maintain customers. Quality has to be there, price has to be there and delivery has to be there. We have to perform it at a greater level and we have to accommodate people with disabilities in that supply chain.If there's any efficiencies that we have to make up for, we have to make it up with technology or business processes. We have that challenge each and every day. It's also a blessing that we can do this. While we have a great social mission, nobody gives us business. We have to earn it, we have to compete and we have to stay competitive. That's always a challenge for us and we are leveraging technology as best we can. Not only to reduce our costs and be efficient, but also to accommodate our employees who need a little extra help."
Moving to the cloud with Infor
McMillan notes that PRIDE Industries has experienced significant growth and is having to adapt its technology approach and change with the times. As such, it recently carried out a value engineering proposition piece of work with Infor to look at its business processes, identify inefficient and assess where changes needed to be made. He said:
"We are now doing a migration to the cloud. We've looked at our business processes, improved some already, but ultimately we are going to the cloud so that we can build in some of those efficiencies and get those returns that are very real. We have already started seeing them. So, we are on a migration path there, as well as other technologies that help our employees with disabilities.Right now on the component level we are doing time studies on component manufacturing, which we have never really done to a great level of accuracy. Getting those things down now, which we are going through the process of doing, we can find the true cost of our materials and manufacturing costs. This means we can price better, price more competitively, find the gaps where we maybe have opportunities to improve."
McMillan said that PRIDE has learnt from its past mistakes, where these value engineering projects haven't delivered the intended results in the past. However, this time the organisation made a concerted effort to bring the COO and CFO into the fold, which he said has helped to bring the business along on the change journey. McMillan said:
"It's neat seeing the business adapt and change on their own before we [IT] even get there. They're going to help us down this path even faster."
PRIDE Industries has been running on Infor's LN ERP product since 2007, but is now migrating to Infor Cloud Suite. McMillan was keen to emphasise that the success of the project thus far has been aided by making use of the Infor Implementation Accelerators programme, which are preconfigured solutions based on the latest version of Infor application suites. They are designed to deliver certain core industry application processes, along with reduced implementation times, risks and costs.
McMillan said that the use of the Accelerators programme has ensured that PRIDE quickly gets the value it needs from the new platform. He said:
"When we did the analysis with the Accelerators, we actually tried to monetise them. When I went to the CFO and the CEO with those numbers - the ROI was within the first year of going to the cloud. It was pretty amazing stats. Even the sceptic in me didn't believe them. But I've done enough research on them and the business is convinced they can do it.I've been in this industry for 30 years and the common thing for CIOs is that you take any solution, any budget and any timeline and double it - that is what we've gotten used to. But I think this cloud migration is going to be the first project that I've seen in 30 years that comes close to on time and on budget. Because there's proof and science behind it that's going to work. I can see it and I can feel it working."
McMillan has also said that with this current migration he plans to avoid past mistakes made with the LN ERP implementation, where PRIDE hopes to take full advantage of Infor's capabilities in the cloud. He said:
"We run LN ERP… and we've been running on that for 13 years. And we put it in to fix a solution and we put in a lot of things that were temporary measures to make things work. And you know how that is, CIOs understand this, when you put in a workaround and say you will come back to it, you never do.So here we are driving this Cadillac and running it like a Chevy. We weren't using all the bells and whistles and taking advantage of the technology. We didn't even know what was available. Understand your products, understand your tools and put them in where it makes sense for you. Spending this money in technology and not using it, is just not wise."
Response to COVID-19
Finally, McMillan shared PRIDE Industries' experience of working through the COVID-19 pandemic, during a nationwide lockdown. All of PRIDE's corporate workforce successfully shifted to working from home and because the organisation is involved in manufacturing medical devices and is a customer of the Department of Defence, it was classed as ‘essential business'.
However, more interestingly, PRIDE has found that it's experience in creating flexible workspaces and being an agile employer has also proven to be hugely beneficial. McMillan said:
"We stayed in business most of the time [during lockdown]. And in our facilities maintenance, some of that is custodial work and cleaning. COVID-19 brought a greater demand for deep cleaning. What we did is on our medical devices we transitioned and started making respirators, face masks and protective shields.
I think the fact that we are agile and the fact that we can accommodate people with disabilities, made that transition rather easy for us. We were able to reengineer our lines, that gave us space for social distancing, and I think that was one of the things we were fortunate we could do, because we do it - we accommodate people with disabilities, so we have to be flexible. And we have to be able to adjust.
It wasn't a major reengineering for us. So in a way, as bad as COVID-19 is, our company was able to contribute to that. We are proud of the work we did to support the medical industries."
A version of this article was originally published by Diginomica on August 5, 2020