Denton, Paul and Hodgson, A. (1997) Systems Development for Global Manufacturing. In: Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Factory 2000, 2nd - 4th April 1997, Cambridge, UK.

An increasing number of manufacturing businesses are moving towards global operations, with a manufacturing presence in most of the world's major regions. The use of information technology and business systems as a strategic weapon can be seen as a basis for achieving this end. The capabilities which organisations need to acquire in this situation include flexibility and innovation. Flexibility implies the ability to change swiftly and effectively, while innovation means the ability to renew and update products quickly. Global computer-integrated manufacture (CIM) can provide some of the above capabilities. Rather than relying upon theoretically-oriented, discipline-based and hierarchically-controlled staff, increasing emphasis is being placed on the organisation and integration of multi-skilled groups centred around particular projects. New information and co-ordination technologies, the globalisation of markets, post-Keynesian economic policies and decentralising forms of organisation are amongst the factors, it is suggested, are associated with this development. This paper describes the combination of business strategy and information technology within a manufacturing company required to support the goal of globalisation. The company described in this paper is involved in the manufacture of large engineering structures which are exported to many locations around the world. For many years, most of the company’s facilities and management had been based at one location in the United Kingdom. Following a take-over by a large American Corporation, the need to relocate heavy manufacturing operations at will to offset rising costs was recognised. The company has subsequently under¬taken a widespread business analysis exercise and is currently in the process of defining a range of global strategies, associated implemen¬tation methodologies and supporting systems. This paper identifies the issues that challenge organisations as they strive to achieve competitive advantage in today’s uncertain global markets. Conceptual solutions are offered in the forms of a strategic framework and strategic capabilities architecture. The strategic framework details all the organisation’s global business strategies and methodologies, and the strategic capabilities architecture acts as an implementation tool to enable these strategies.

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