Enterprise software deployment has become shorthand for a long, expensive, arduous process that only begins to generate value after months (or years) of preparation and implementation. Nobody likes this reality, but the stakeholders involved in enterprise SaaS projects have started to accept it.

But for manufacturers, IT projects can’t happen at the expense of factory uptime and performance. Such disruptions make the path to value much longer and narrower. And in an implementation that takes a year or longer there are numerous opportunities for things to go awry, moving the goalposts. In the world of traditional MES and other legacy manufacturing platforms, companies rely entirely upon the vendor to do things quickly, correctly, and fully. That’s a lot riding on an outside party.

Manufacturing software platforms as a partnership

It used to be the case that platform vendors and IT leaders would cut Operations out of software decisions altogether. But that misses a big opportunity: Operators and engineers are builders and doers. They tend to know which solutions and methods will best address their needs on the floor. And they will often be the end users of whatever platform the company selects.

A modern approach to deployment — and a faster one — presents the platform as a way to tap into manufacturers’ expertise about their own processes and personnel. The best modern frontline operations platforms use a no-code framework and intuitive UI to let engineers and operators build the apps they need to solve their problems and get work done more efficiently. In this way, the platform isn’t a black box — it’s a blank slate.

Importantly, this approach enables IT and OT teams to collaborate and validate software as they deploy it, rather than waiting a year or more to learn that the system won’t work as intended or doesn’t actually meet the needs of the frontline.


Composability is the key to faster time to value

Today, new approaches to enterprise software can offer organizations a way to start generating value much more quickly than traditional deployment timelines would allow. And the most important element to understand here is composability: building a platform solution block by block, where each block constitutes a contained solution for a given use case, so you can start using the elements you deploy while you continue to develop other areas.

In manufacturing, this means setting up your highest-priority features and functionality first, sending them for testing, and empowering your teams to begin using those features while you move on to your next important use cases.

That means enterprise projects aren’t an all-or-nothing proposition — instead, manufacturers will see value as early as a few weeks into deployment. Then they can apply any learnings to the implementation process for other areas.

How much faster can platform deployment get?

Now that we’ve established that manufacturing platform deployments shouldn’t go for months before yielding any useful outputs, let’s look at some numbers.

The typical legacy MES deployment takes around one year (during which time the software vendor has nothing to show for the work). But that’s for the initial deployment; consider as well that any changes to the platform, additional tools or features not included out-of-the-box, or any future deployments to other facilities all require an unknown amount of additional time and expenditure.

In addition, there’s the ratio of software to service expenses. Large, legacy MES deployments require a large investment in resource hours on the part of the vendor to set up and service the platform — more cost associated merely with ensuring the system works as intended.

On the other hand, a modern frontline operations platform can produce a working application ready for use on the floor in a handful of weeks. Once that happens, the manufacturer can replicate that process again and again for additional applications, learning as they go, choosing the right use cases based on business and frontline needs, and generating incremental value every time another app is finished.

From there, expanding a deployment within the facility to more users or use cases is part of the same process of iteration and continuous improvement. That also makes it much more straightforward to extend the platform into new worksites.


How Tulip customers accelerate time-to-value

We can point to a number of examples of manufacturers that were able to generate value from their platform investment much faster than industry standard.

One cell and gene biotech company moved from 30-page paper record system to a full eBR in three weeks.

An industrial equipment manufacturer deployed an MES in three months, without relying on the Tulip services team. And a multinational life sciences organization scaled eLogbooks across 15 sites in under three months.

In less than six months, a medical device company implemented a validated MES, including eDHR.

And in one year — the time it takes a traditional enterprise MES to undergo the initial deployment—a large industrial tool manufacturer implemented Tulip and scaled to 53 sites.

At every stage of the Tulip implementation journey, companies are generating value — real solutions to problems their operators are facing. That translates to fewer upfront costs, a reduced IT resource crunch, and greater overall platform success in the long run.

Redefining MES for the Next Generation of Manufacturers

Check out our on-demand webinar for a further insights into how composable manufacturing platforms are enabling rapid time to value.

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