Operation Managers as Citizen Developers: Manufacturing

Shreyansh Jain
July 3, 2023
5 mins to read
At the Frontline with Shreyansh where we unlock smart ways to scale digital transformation.

We’re all surrounded by a million versions of Generative AI. Technology is at the forefront for basic functions, and it's clear that we can't escape incorporating it into our day-to-day strategy. I’ve met business heads, especially those from heavy-asset industries, who face a unique challenge when it comes to their digital transformation journey. While some have started looking at the big picture, one of our Fortune 500 clients went the extra mile by developing a cohesive digital 5-year plan with Grid as their accelerator. In this guide, I’ll walk you through our tried and tested framework that involves citizen development, self-sufficiency and leveraging tools to scale your digital journey.

But before we dive in, let me provide a brief introduction. When we started Grid, we recognized the missing link that binds all units together, even more so in a factory set-up. Frontline workers and administrative staff often operate in separate worlds, causing valuable data to get lost in translation. Grid was conceived to break that chain, and we’re now here with a detailed framework to help you take full advantage of what we offer.


Welcome to Lead Assemble Launch (LAL), our framework that empowers you to become the master of your digital journey. Rather than drowning in an overwhelming sea of tools that lead nowhere, we'll help you navigate and take control 🕹

Our framework is based on the successful execution of this framework with the operational managers of a leading Fortune 500 company. They operate diverse manufacturing units and have already made significant progress in creating operational digital flows, all on their own. Let me guide you with how you can follow their example to transform your business into a fully independent, self-sufficient entity with citizen development at its core.

To grasp the true power of this framework, let's start with the hero itself—citizen development. I’ve seen some enterprises who are hesitant about digital transformation as they fear it would require a complete overhaul of existing processes. However, they fail to realize that the transition is typically gradual and inclusive.

While I can’t stress enough on the high dependence on IT and support teams to unlock the full potential of various software and tools that are available in the market today, citizen development offers a solution to break free from this cycle by focusing on the empowerment of key team members to identify and solve critical areas issues. From ideation to execution,it allows for active participation, and decentralized execution eliminating the need for relying solely on IT and support teams. You can read more about citizen development right here before we dive into the framework.

No great feat was ever achieved without surmounting a challenge.

Setting up this framework may come as an added challenge for companies with multiple departments to take care of. I also understand how it’s tough to welcome something new when everyone is occupied with their daily tasks. But trust me, embracing this framework will ultimately streamline your processes and add precious hours to your day.


STEP 1: Get Up, Close, and Detailed 👀

To fully utilize Grid's capabilities, it's essential to ensure that every team leader understands its capabilities. We kick off this process with an in-depth product demo, where we guide your team through Grid’s no-code features that are the key to the program’s success. This is the stage when all users create an account on the Grid Academy specifically designed to help you master Grid. Once registered, you can browse various functions, access relevant use cases, and improve your understanding thus allowing you to create complex workspaces seamlessly.

Once your team is familiar with the product, we present industry-specific and general use cases that can be easily built on Grid. 

HereTogether, we'll agree on the first problem statement, and we'll demonstrate how to create it from scratch on Grid. I would suggest keeping this session with a smaller group where we brainstorm leading challenges that need to be digitized.

These initial opportunities typically have the potential to transform your vertical and horizontal management and reporting issues by consolidating all relevant information in one place.

In this phase, we'll be present to guide you through the product's functionalities and address any questions or concerns you may have while also enabling operational teams to think about what kind of digitization problems need solving on the shop floor. 

Here are some actions that can be taken at this stage:

  • Look inward and involve all the necessary stakeholders
  • Compile a list of challenges that can be addressed through digital adoption, such as a drain in managing multiple tools 
  • Figure out which department is losing productivity in managing basic tasks
  • Identify the operational data that is still being handled manually on paper and create a detailed list (we'll call them workflows in subsequent stages)
  • Encourage participation from various departments and gather their input

STEP 2 : Set the Foundation: Change Management 𝌡

Change management is crucial to successful digital transformation. It involves preparing, supporting, and guiding your team through the process of adopting and adapting to change. Again, I understand that change can be complex and met with resistance. Therefore, before introducing Grid, I would advise all the leaders to view this through a wider lens and communicate it in the same way. This isn’t about a new tool being used specifically by coders, but a framework that will help everyone create applications, digital flows and much more, all on their own. It is critical to ensure that the users of any tool give feedback and those are incorporated as soon as possible to the preset process to reduce adoption friction. 

Some of the ways to get this up and running are:

  • Create an internal deployment plan

Developing an internal deployment plan is crucial to ensure a smooth implementation of the change. This involves identifying key stakeholders, defining roles and responsibilities, establishing timelines, and determining the resources needed for the framework's adoption. The deployment plan should outline the specific steps and actions required to introduce and integrate the framework into the organization.

  • Choose participants for your Test Group

Selecting participants for a test group is essential for piloting the framework and gathering valuable feedback. The test group should consist of individuals who represent different roles and functions within the organization. These participants will have the opportunity to use the framework in real-world scenarios and provide insights on its effectiveness, usability, and any potential challenges or improvements.

  • Set up a feedback process

Establishing a feedback process is vital for capturing input from users and incorporating it into the framework's development. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, or regular meetings where users can share their experiences, suggestions, and concerns. Gathering feedback enables the organization to identify areas of improvement, address any issues or gaps, and make adjustments to enhance user satisfaction and adoption.

  • Get the right expectations in place

Setting clear expectations is crucial to manage the adoption process effectively. Leaders should communicate the purpose and benefits of the framework to the entire organization, emphasizing that it is not just a tool for coders but a comprehensive framework that empowers everyone to create applications and digital flows independently. By aligning everyone's understanding of the framework's scope and potential, resistance to change can be minimized, and individuals can embrace the new approach more readily.

These action steps provide a starting point for implementing change management and developing the LAL framework successfully. 

STEP 3:  Play with Live Use Cases 🂡

After demonstrating a few general use cases, it's time to brainstorm and develop the ones that are crucial in a factory/field setup. We’ll be setting these up as workflows on Grid (something you might already be familiar with).

In this step, we'll still provide guidance, but we'll give you the freedom to build your own workflows to become comfortable with the product.

We recommend involving individuals from different verticals to understand how Grid fits into their specific use cases and context. This will help them ideate on the present manual or Excel-based flows and transport them onto Grid.


STEP 4: The Stage of Self-Sufficiency 🥳

In this phase, we'll translate your existing processes, which may currently be scattered across various tools and mediums, onto Grid. The transformation takes place by creating detailed flow charts that outline the processes to be digitized and the data to be uploaded to Grid.

In this stage, you will create workflows on your own while being there to sort any doubts that might arise. 

We conducted this session with our client at their factory, where we held a hybrid session. You can make that call depending on the size of your organization. The number of participants in this stage matters so that everyone present has ample opportunity to ask questions and learn how to utilize Grid to its full potential.

How do we migrate existing data to Grid?

We begin by setting baseline tables or the existing database which can then be referred to for different use-cases, workflows or processes. 

Here are a few module samples that we set up together in this phase:

Normally, the Industrial Engineering (IE) team is responsible for machine servicing, status monitoring, and preventive maintenance.In this session, our client created a PM Module where they:

  • Created weekly reminders for asset maintenance.
  • If a reminder date passed without a checkmark, it was marked as a slippage, followed by a notification to the required personnel to take prompt action.
  • Whenever the work was completed, a PDF would be generated.
  • This PDF served as confirmation that the necessary maintenance tasks had been successfully carried out.

They also took the initiative to create efficiency trackers themselves, aiming to capture daily employee efficiency. To track this, they utilized their contracted and recovered hours data, which was synced with the budgeting sheet at both the factory and line levels. 

This enabled them to display an efficiency band for every line within the factory, as well as for each product on the dashboard. 

They also circulated the generated PDFs internally to get everyone up to speed, thus promoting efficiency and a connected workplace.

STEP 6: Encourage Your Team 🎂

Revisiting Step 2 and from what we’ve seen in our live demonstrations, the successful adoption of Grid heavily relies on how you introduce it to your team. Our client went the extra mile and incentivized participants, creating a sense of accomplishment with each milestone achieved. 

In this phase, training is conducted through test environments, brainstorming sessions, and hour-long workshops. To maintain interest and energy, a motivating environment does go a long way.

We had operational managers and their teams set up their first workflows together on their Grid account. Once established, they delved deeper into these workflows through reports and dashboards. We also had them conduct all of these presentations live to familiarize everyone with Grid's capabilities. 

Additionally, we have built a variety of tutorials and help articles to help you out whenever you need a sneak peek. 


STEP 7: Ideate Possibilities and Situations 💭

By this stage you’ll be much more comfortable with Grid, giving you the expertise to explore new possibilities and use cases.

Can I track my monthly expenditure on coal?
Can I create a carbon footprint calculator?
Can I assign this flow to Jean?

This advanced stage is when your team gets to play with the product and unlock its fullest potential. If there are any workflows that haven't been digitized yet, you can address them now.

For example, one of our clients wanted to digitize their hold seal development process, which had previously been attempted using Google products without success. Thanks to Grid's intuitive drag-and-drop functionality and the knowledge gained through our learning sessions, they were able to easily build a tracker to monitor all their processes.

Financial budgeting, audits, and checklists are just a few more examples of processes that you can set up yourself on Grid, by this stage.

STEP 8: Test Away 🧪

Once you're back in your specific work environments, we recommend testing your newly acquired knowledge with your team (without our presence). Start with small batches and refer to videos and the Grid Academy for any doubts or questions. You can also set aside any uncertainties for us to address later.

STEP 9: Hire a Resource 🙋‍♂️

After all these stages, most of your workforce would know how to use Grid. Even then, we would recommend appointing a dedicated person from each department to lead its usage. This person will also serve as the main point of contact for any additional support from our end so that you continue to test different possibilities and use cases on the go. 

As it becomes familiar, it’ll start to sync into your daily routine. Before you know it, you'll be well on your way to becoming citizen developers, capable of creating digital solutions for any challenges that arise, without any outside assistance.

Following this framework has helped many teams master the state of digital transformation in their companies. Here are a few tips to make the journey even more fun!

- Recognize the potential of no-code development.

- Invest time in recognizing existing gaps.

- Consider the bigger picture of scaling digitally, identifying data management gaps, and streamlining your data with Grid.

and - Test out your learnings with your team in small batches to get the most out of this framework.

Today, I’m happy to share that Grid has become the core tool for implementing our client's digital five-year plan. It has turned out to be their centralized platform for communication, data sharing, and operational management across multiple factories. They started with one and are well on their way to expanding and digitizing their flows on Grid across 12 factories this year.

If you want to know more about citizen development and building digital self-sufficiency, feel free to chat with me at shreyansh@workongrid.com.

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Shreyansh Jain
Transforming manufacturing operations by building valuable and action-driven modules and insights. Co-Founder and COO at WorkOnGrid.
“Using Grid to track drill program progress and day to day expenditures has allowed VR Resources to make better decisions more quickly. The highly customizable and elegant interface allows me to track and manage all aspects of our field work and it’s clear after just a few weeks that the possibilities are nearly endless. Cost tracking estimates were consistently within expected variance of invoices received giving me further confidence in managing agile drill programs. Further the development team and customer support have been top notch!”
Justin J. Daley
PGeo, MSc, Vice President Exploration
VR Resources
VR Resources
“Grid has been extremely helpful in changing the course of multiple operations, here at U-Solar. We started with one module for Materials Management, and have now adopted Grid for 3-4 more processes, all of which have been smooth and quick to implement.”
IT Admin
“GRID has helped Hotel Polo Towers group to manage their assets and inventory through its simple, user-friendly yet dynamic application. Managing asset data have really been simple and it goes without saying that the technical support team members have done a tremendous job by providing quick and effective troubleshooting measures whenever required.”
Anirban Chatterjee
IT Manager - Corporate
Hotel Polo Towers
Hotel Polo Towers
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