First, Do No Harm
As Internet- and Web-based technologies mature, job shops and manufacturing facilities of all types and sizes will find themselves applying them to improve many areas of their businesses.
Shop management solutions for supply chain or enterprise management will allow you to offer—or will soon allow you to offer—your existing customers real-time account information and empowerment to participate more efficiently in their relationships with you.
As you begin to explore these types of options, or nourish existing applications, it's important to consider the stresses participating in such systems may place upon your partners.
For example, consider passwords. To you, participation within your system offers obvious value to your customers. But to a given individual, accessing your system may also mean adding yet another password to an ever-increasing, overwhelming list of passwords he or she must remember—those for banks, e-mail accounts, work networks, other partners' systems, clients' systems, and others.
To help minimize the password demands on these folks, consider programming your system to accept a customer's invoice number or e-mail address as the password to account information. Another option may be to allow all customers to select their own user names and password combinations. (You might be surprised at how many systems still DON'T allow this.)
However you deal with these types of issues, the key is to anticipate the unexpected impact an online system's use might put on a customer or prospect and reduce it as early as possible in the development stages of that system.
Your customers will appreciate it.
Job Shop Site Of The Month
Chicago Mold Engineering is a full (and we do mean full) service mold shop. Now, its Web site may not turn the design world on its ear (www.chicagomold.com), but these guys are thinking. Don't believe it? Check out their listing of Equipment & Facilities—it's simple, effective, and thorough with pictures of stations and equipment where appropriate. And for a real creative punch, take a look at the Facility Tour, an interactive display of the shop, layout and capabilities that is as cool an interface as we've seen.
To have your site considered for Job Shop Site Of The Month, send your URL to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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