ISA Interchange

Welcome to the official blog of the International Society of Automation (ISA).

All Posts

Manufacturing IT Project Pitfalls (Part 2)

This guest post is authored by John Clemons, director of manufacturing IT at MAVERICK Technologies. To read Part 1 of this post, click here.

Last time I talked about the Top 10 pitfalls for manufacturing IT projects.  It putting that together I realized there were way more than 10.  I could probably do like a Top 100 or so but that would be too much.  Instead I’d simple like to mention a few more pitfalls that are way too common in manufacturing IT projects.  And, again, simply being aware of them can go a long way to helping you avoid them.  So, here’s another dozen pitfalls for manufacturing IT projects.Risk02

  1. Lack of clear goals and objectives – you’d be surprised at how many projects get started without focused objectives.  Make sure you know exactly what you want to do and set the project up to achieve those objectives.
  2. Fundamental lack of understanding the business processes – way too many IT or engineering people think they know the business processes but really don’t.  Make sure you really know the business processes and how the manufacturing IT solution fits in with those processes.
  3. Lack of buy-in – this happens all the time.  A project is launched but there’s no real buy-in from the people who will be using the system and are critical to its success.  You have to get their buy-in or the project just won’t be successful.
  4. No champion – this is pretty common as well.  There has to be a champion – someone who drives the project forward and is focused on the business processes and the business benefits.  Just having a champion goes a long way to ensuring the success of the project.
  5. Insufficient funding – manufacturing IT projects are rarely funded to the degree they need to be simply because it seems like there’s always something that gets left out or forgotten.  Make sure you think through everything you’re going to need and all the resources you’re going to need (internal and external) and make sure they’re in the budget.
  6. No real justification – the project has to produce real business benefits.  Even if it’s cool technology and the project’s under budget and ahead of schedule, if it doesn’t produce real business benefits then the projects a waste of time and money.
  7. Misunderstanding of technology – technology can only do so much.  Vendors want to convince you their technology is the ultimate silver bullet able to solve all your problems.  But, you know that’s not the case.  Just make you know what the technology will do and what it won’t do and make sure you use the technology correctly.
  8. Technology-driven solutions – like the one above this problem often comes from vendors trying to sell you their products.  Make sure you understand the business needs and how the solution will meet the business needs and how the solution will actually achieve the business benefits.
  9. Continual reorganization of the company – this happens more than I ever thought.  You just have to be aware of this possibility and make sure again that you have a well-defined project that’s focused on the business needs and can provide true bottom line benefits to the company.
  10. Unclear, incompatible, or contradictory standards – if anything, standards have proliferated and in some cases have made things worse instead of better.  Make sure you have the right standards for your company and the right standards for your projects.
  11. Lack of commitment – project commitment tends to wan over time and the longer the project the greater the chance that commitment will evaporate.  Execute the project in steps and show lots of success along the way delivering parts of the project, and the benefits, as you go.
  12. Assuming the solution before understanding requirements – this happens way too often.  Someone has the solution already figured out before the business requirements are even talked about.  This is nothing but a recipe for disaster but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to avoid.  Just be aware of it and always focus on the business needs.

Simply being aware of these pitfalls should go a long way to helping you avoid them.  Next time I think I’ll talk about what to do if you find yourself in one of these pitfalls.  Until then, good luck and have fun!

John ClemonsAbout the Author
John Clemons is MAVERICK’s director of manufacturing IT with more than 30 years of education and experience in technology engineering, product/service innovation, project management and consulting services for world-class manufacturing enterprises. Before MAVERICK, John was vice president of consulting at EnteGreat, where he was responsible for providing strategic direction and managed all aspects of operations for the consulting business unit. He earned his bachelor‘s degree in mathematics and computer science from Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. and received his master's degree in software engineering from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Contact John at

Related Posts

ISA Journeys: The Benefit of Getting Involved

In this blog post, a dedicated member of the International Society of Automation (ISA) shares her path to...
Contributing Author Sep 29, 2020 5:30:00 AM

The COVID-Free Smart Building (Part 1)

A vision of how smart technology can change the way buildings are designed and maintained to safeguard oc...
Contributing Author Sep 25, 2020 5:15:00 AM

Coding for Automation Projects Is More Than Writing Code

Translating mathematical equations into code is part of, but also removed from, the development of automa...
Ed Farmer Sep 22, 2020 5:00:00 AM