Brad Kuvin Brad Kuvin
Editorial Director

Speed, "Thinkering" and Compressing Quote to Cash

May 1, 2014

Completing the manufacturing process from start to finish—from “quote to cash,” as Aberdeen research director Bryan Ball puts it—with sheer speed may be the most worthwhile goal any metalformer can set. What is your company doing to become faster?

Ball spoke at last month’s Manufacturing ERP Experience conference, produced by MetalForming magazine, describing the role that modern ERP software solutions play in speeding several aspects of the “quote-to-cash” cycle. Ball provided a slew of best-practice carrots for metalformers and fabricators to chase.  

According to Ball’s research, 45 percent of manufacturers say “improving business execution” is their primary goal for 2014. To get there, companies must clear some common hurdles, most notably delays in decision-making due to a lack of timely information, and an inability to quickly react to change.

So how fast are best-in-class manufacturers? Here are a few benchmarks provided by Ball:

• 96-percent complete and on time delivery

• 96-percent internal schedule compliance

• 98-percent inventory accuracy

Further, says Ball, best-in-class manufacturers are 38 percent more likely than others to be capable of conducting demand planning and forecasting, and 86 percent are more likely to have a centralized repository of metrics and KPIs.

How does all of this increased speed help? The biggest bangs for the buck, Ball’s survey points out, come in decreased stock-to-sales ratio (19 percent for best-in-class, 9 percent for others) and improvement in schedule compliance (here, best-in-class companies are 8 percent better than others).

Interestingly enough, speed also became top of mind at the recently held Inside 3D Printing Conference + Expo, April 2-4 in New York. Among the most interesting keynote presentations I heard there were those focused on how 3D printing is narrowing the gap between design and engineering. What better to compress the quote-to-cash cycle.

For example, Christine Furstross, technical director of manufacturing and materials technologies for GE Global Research, explained the quickly shrinking timeline from product design to build. Noted by her and other conference speakers: Additive manufacturing allows manufacturing companies to practice the art of “thinkering”—the concept and phrase coined by Michael Ondaatje in his novel The English Patient. It describes how tinkering with the hands helps to develop new concepts in the mind. 

I’ve seen numerous examples already of how metalformers and fabricators use 3D printing to spur the thinkering process and quicken the pace from design to part. 

My plea to you: Don’t stop learning about new tools (ERP, 3D printing, etc.) to help increase the pace at which your company moves from quote to cash. We’ll hold another Manufacturing ERP Experience this October in Nashville. And, the sponsors of Inside 3D Printing, Mediabistro, have several conferences scheduled well into 2015. Check its website ( for the schedule. 
Industry-Related Terms: Compress
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms

Technologies: Management


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