R&D work in the cloud

15 years ago, I did not know anyone that worked away from the office, unless they were traveling and were writing on the airport…

Today it´s quite common to do a weekly day of work at home, especially if your commute to work is long. But as R&D work is basically a big group assignment, you need access to your co-workers results and their input, frequently. When you start working away from home I guess you could focus on all the stuff you need to do by yourself, thus you don’t really need too much interaction with your coworkers while at home.

Last few years has exploded in web based (cloud) applications, they give you access to the same environment no matter where you are. Basically you only need to log in to have the same access as if you where in your office whether you are traveling, in a different office, in a meeting room or at home. This gives you the freedom to do not only the work you can do by yourself, but also almost all the work you could do at the office.
You can do the ”group assignment” on a distance and get away with it!

The main task for an R&D department is to create a ”recipe” for a new/improved product. If you pick up your laptop and go away from the office you will no longer lose the contact with the IT system. As your PLM system, in charge of your recipe, is in the cloud and accessible from wherever you like to be.
This gives new opportunities. Let’s say you need to stay at home due to sick kids. Instead of spending the time in front of the TV when the kids are sleeping, you just pick up the laptop and log in. You can do real work as you have all the access you need.

To be honest this way of working has been available before the cloud applications entered the scene, larger companies could afford an IT department to set up VPN tunnels and you log in remotely to your office computer. The ”new” thing is really that cloud based services are a lot less expensive. Even start-ups with really small budgets can run a PLM system in the Cloud. The cloud systems are scalable and work well for really big companies as well, the scaling is what keeps them safe and inexpensive while they have a very rich feature set. You are basically sharing infrastructure with a lot of other companies and the IT team managing the cloud service invest more time and money than even the biggest of companies can afford.

But what about the team work part. I need to see my coworkers for project meetings and report my progress. It’s not enough with just access to BOM’s and documents in the PLM system. I need to know what I am expected to deliver and when, I also need to know if there are any changes in the plans, basically what should I be doing today? When I am in the office I can ask my project manager or my line manger, but when at home I have to hunt them on the phone and email.
Is there any solution to this in the cloud as well? Well, yes there are several solutions to this problem.

If you mainly do SW design and follow a kanban board, there are numerous cloud based kanban boards that will manage both use cases, issues as well as the kanban board itself. You have the same access as in the office. Just do your thing as you usually do it.

If you are in HW (electronics), mechanical, optics, production optimization, purchasing etc. and are involved in complicated projects, there has been no real solution until just recently. We discovered PLAYBOOK, which is a fully featured project management system to manage all your work tasks and resources.

This cloud application gives you visibility to all tasks everyone in your team does and plans to do. It is really easy to see if the work is critical or how long time it will take to become critical. Critical work is work that if delayed, will delay the entire project.
This gives you an excellent tool to understand the most important task to work with today, and automatically report what you work with and what you pushed into the future. If you are involved in many projects as well as maintenance tasks its hard work to understand what is really the most important thing to work with today.

As PLAYBOOK holds all these activities for you and your coworkers you get a cross project and cross-functional overview of the situation. And if anything changes you see it right away, no more waiting for a meeting to understand that the delivery from a supplier is not going to happen in time. This means that you no longer have to work overtime to deliver your part in time, if the timing has changed. You can change your priorities and help out in other tasks of the project instead.

I think that work has really never been as easy to understand as it is with these cloud tools. To be able to see, in real time, what happens with product data and work is really a game changer. Companies that are adopting not only the new tools but also the opportunities to work differently with the new tools will be ahead of their competition.

Make your work life simple with cloud applications, visible to allow everyone to understand the situation and trust your team to do the right thing!

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