Building and maintaining a scalable IT infrastructure is a necessary foundation for most modern business processes. Yet the factors that make scalability so important are often misunderstood or altogether overlooked by manufacturing companies.
As an example, “scalability” does not equal “cloud computing.” Although it’s true that cloud computing is inherently scalable - as you’re able to scale up or down, growing or shrinking dynamically as your needs change - the cloud is not the only infrastructure element against which the concept of scalability needs to be considered.
Take your company’s systems and software. If you’re using custom instances or solutions built around multiple custom integrations, a lack of built-in scalability could pose a major risk to your manufacturing operations. That’s why understanding and prioritizing scalability within these systems must be a top priority for IT teams within manufacturing companies.
The Challenge of “Homegrown” IT Systems
It’s one thing if your manufacturing company is using out-of-the-box enterprise software, as intended. But as companies grow and begin dipping their toes into the waters of custom technology development, they often find themselves confronted with the challenges associated with “homegrown” IT systems.
When custom integrations have been added - potentially by multiple different vendors or in support of multiple new customers - making even the smallest change could have unintended consequences. At best, this creates fires the IT team must redirect resources to put out; at worst, companies run the risk of having to rebuild from scratch every time additional resources are required.
But that’s not the only reason to prioritize scalability. The following are a few additional considerations that justify the adoption of scalable systems as early as possible by manufacturers:
Scalability Lowers Costs Per User Over Time
As business needs evolve, so too do costs, which tend to grow in proportion to your user numbers. However, growing overall expenses need not be directly proportional to your user base’s size.
A scalable system design allows for resources to be augmented efficiently, reducing actual per-user costs significantly as it grows. This occurs by dynamically harnessing resources, rather than operating on the basis of calculated assumptions regarding needed processing power, storage space, and other resources.
Scaling IT Infrastructure Secures Business Growth
Fast-growing businesses can quickly find their tech needs spiraling out of control if the technology stack behind their most important processes can’t accommodate large swells in data volume or other increasing requirements.
Instead, scalable systems set growth-oriented manufacturing companies up for success by providing methodology for each new integration, keeping functional additions modular and minimizing the risk of multifaceted system-wide errors.
Scaling Infrastructure Simplifies the Incorporation of New Technology
As new technological opportunities are made available, businesses looking to gain a competitive edge must incorporate them into their existing workflows sooner, rather than later. Unfortunately, without a solid, scalable system as their starting point, integrating new developments into the existing infrastructure imposes a much higher upfront cost on manufacturers, in addition to adding significant risk.
Should an existing integration come into conflict with the new additions, errors could result, causing production to come to a complete standstill. IT infrastructure that scales by design, on the other hand, provides a reasonably solid foundation upon which additional integrations can be grafted safely and without major conflicts.
If your company were to add a new piece of technology or attempt to integrate the tech requirements of a new customer, would your IT infrastructure be able to handle it?
Often enough, businesses with loosely coupled collections of integrations face the dilemma of choosing between establishing a scalable system and simply layering additional integrations on top of the precarious pile they already have. The latter may be snappy, but the former approach is far more secure and - ultimately - quicker as well, once the transition to a scalable infrastructure is made.
Scaling IT Infrastructure Simplifies Training
Finally, as you map out new goals for your company, additional tools or resources may morph from “nice-to-haves” into necessities. These new integrations carry the burden of staff training along with them. However, if your systems can’t scale efficiently, redesigning core components to a significant degree could invalidate your existing processes for handling familiar tasks, creating a need for additional training.
Training can be costly both upfront and over the mid-term as individual team members become acquainted with the updated system. Implementing a scalable IT infrastructure design from the start substantially offsets this productivity and bottom line risk, as core processes can be kept largely the same, despite new features being made available.
Scalability isn’t just about transitioning to cloud computing. It’s about creating a fundamentally stable system. Incorporating scalability as a core characteristic of your current infrastructure makes future development and expansion both easier to handle and safer for your business overall.
Contact Simpat to learn more about developing a strong, scalable IT framework that facilitates future growth without risking stability.