Recently we were proud to announce a new partnership with Aprile Management Solutions in Italy. The relationship between flexis and Aprile will help Italian companies to even better access, deploy, and benefit from flexis’ leading edge supply chain software solutions, while leveraging Aprile business process know-how and gearing the change capabilities and on-site presence.
Flavio Bordignon, founder and managing director of Aprile Management Solutions, sat down with us to talk about why his company decided to partner with flexis; the importance of sustainability and core competencies; and the challenges that face the manufacturing industry in the coming years.
Tell us a little about Aprile Management Solutions.
Aprile provides business engineering services to complex companies. We work in building or re-building the “business engines” of our customer. We're a small company, with only ten people, and we focus on supply chain planning and execution. Usually we work with companies with more than 1 billion turnover to handle complex business changes. I think that our capabilities in designing target operating models (TOMs) for companies is our key differentiator.
What is the primary reason you decided to partner with flexis?
I’ve heard about flexis and met [flexis CEO] Philipp Beisswenger. I think that today, when we face opportunities coming from planning and execution convergence and the use of machine learning, the need to re-shape businesses is linked to people who can make the difference; designing new operating models requires strong implementation capabilities. flexis offers the right mix of people and software that can make this difference.
Aprile's methodology emphasizes building sustainable processes. What's the most common mistake that companies make with regard to ensuring sustainability?
Most companies today think about change as an integrated design of Processes-Information-Organization. This is only partially complete. We've identified 15 domains that impact sustainability. Sustainable processes are also linked to product and services provided, control models, network changes, data quality, laws and rules, money and competences available for the change, etc., and our methodology takes them all into account. That’s why complex companies choose Aprile.
You also consistently emphasize core methodologies and competencies. Why is it so important for companies to define these? What is the benefit of focusing on — and building upon— these core areas?
We usually work in designing the “new best practices” for our customers. This principle is based on two aspects. First is redefining a best practice, not as defined by what competitors are doing, but by the customer's company vision and goals. The second aspect is understanding our customer. We deeply use machine learning and diagnostic analysis to define what best suits customer vision: in our last deployment, some 60 million MG of data were analyzed to establish the optimal planning process. The result is “a company at its best."
Industry 4.0 has changed the geographic boundaries of businesses. How important is it to build partnerships with companies across geographic lines, such as Aprile's partnership with flexis?
Frankly speaking I think that Germany and Italy are within the same boundary. The flow of goods, people, technology, knowledge is already in place among continents, and it takes less time for me to go to Munich than to Rome…
Some companies still prefer a local counterpart because of language barriers, which have hindered faster adoption of international partnerships. But they're certainly becoming more common. I think that Aprile, with its local presence and strong design capability, is the right bridge to ease adoption of flexis technology and knowledge here in Italy.
What do you see as the primary challenges facing the manufacturing industry in the next few years? How can companies overcome that challenge?
Retailing has already moved to a centralization of planning and execution processes in the last few years. New business models have shown much higher capabilities in sustaining adaption to omnichannel needs and market changes. Yet manufacturing is sometimes still in the “plant optimization” concept. It's time for the industry to activate new target operating models to increase supplier, manufacturing and omnichannel distribution integration.