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Two hours – a lot can happen in this time. A music concert. An insightful webinar. A World Cup match (including half time!). You can also transform your manufacturing business.

How? A digital transformation workshop. In just 120 minutes, you’ll have in your hands a holistic view of your business that will enable you to create a tailored digital strategy, and power your adoption forwards.

Here, Lead Digital Transformation Specialist at Made Smarter Adoption North West, Steve Cleaver explains why you should attend one of these workshops, as well as how they work.

More on Made Smarter Digital Workshops
  • Why attend a digital workshop?

    First, let’s take a look at the statistics. According to The Manufacturer’s 2021 Digital Transformation Assessment, 75% of decision makers believe identifying a benefits-backed roadmap of initiatives is necessary for digital technology adoption. Likewise, 65% think that there needs to be a greater awareness of the opportunities that digital tools can bring in order to accelerate implementation – which is something the workshops can help with.

    We have our own evidence for their worth too. One of the main reasons manufacturers give me for not having adopted digital yet is that they haven’t had the time to properly research their options. The day-to-day gets in the way; there’s simply no time to plan and implement new systems, let alone train staff to use them effectively. Some makers have even said to me that they don’t want funding purely because they don’t have the time to apply for it.

  • What makes Made Smarter’s workshops different?

    Made Smarter was created to deliver the funding, bespoke advice and digital tools to manufacturers in the most straightforward and accessible way possible. Part of this is our digital transformation workshops.

    We understand that makers don’t have the capacity to spend days talking to us about their digital transformation, nor the time to complete long documents. So we’ve streamlined our support and funding to make it the most accessible it can be. After two hours with one of our experts, you’ll have a clear plan forward and know the practical next steps you can take. Accelerating your digital transformation in this way can move your business along two months or, as I’ve found in some cases, two years.

  • What impact will a workshop have?

    An outside pair of eyes really can work wonders – especially if they have the high level of expertise that our advisers do. They’ll be able to identify opportunities that you may perhaps be too close to the business to see.

    The focus isn’t on talking about technology either – though we do provide an overview. We throw the spotlight on the processes around people, including what they do and how they operate, so we can make relevant recommendations.

    What’s more, the workshops are fully-funded. Usually, two hours with a specialist consultant just isn’t an option for an SME with a strict budget. But with us, all you have to do is simply turn up.

    Now you know the why of digital transformation workshops, I can tell you a bit more about what they are, and the process behind them.

  • What can i expect?

    A digital transformation workshop is essentially a strategic diagnostic. It gives us the opportunity to understand the business at that specific moment in time, so we can then make the right recommendations around digital technologies and skills. This involves us knowing what the organisation is striving to do, along with its challenges and opportunities.

    They’re only two hours long when they’re carried out virtually, which I’ve found has proven to be incredibly beneficial for many organisations. Not only does it save time, but the online nature of it gives team members who otherwise might not have been able to attend, the chance to take part.

    We’ve been using wearable devices – smart glasses – in some of the workshops. These allow our technology specialists to carry out virtual end-to-end production line walks of factories, meaning that we can see things in action and have the necessary discussions without actually needing to be there.

  • Who are they for?

    They’re specifically designed for SMEs – those with a headcount below 250. The dynamic of the workshop and what you get out of it is completely different depending on the size, sector and complexity of your business. For instance, with a larger organisation of, say, 150 employees, we might suggest higher-level opportunities if they’re already quite tech-focussed. But the workshop can be even more valuable for a very small business, because we often introduce them to technologies that they’re not aware of.

    What I’ve discovered is that, ultimately, the size of the business and the sector it’s in doesn’t matter. There’s clear value for any manufacturing organisation.

  • How do they work?

    To get the most value from the workshop, I always suggest that people from different departments of the business attend – and at different levels of seniority too. We want to get a whole sense of the company, not just at a strategic level. And so, whilst there should definitely be at least one senior representative there, we invite and encourage those on the shop floor as well. They work closer to the processes, after all, so they have a very different idea of what’s going on.

    As for the amount of people, we typically see 2-6 team members attend the workshops, though we think 3-4 is the magic number when we carry it out virtually.

  • How can I prepare?

    You don’t actually need to prepare ahead of time – just come with an open and honest attitude, otherwise we can’t make suitable suggestions. This includes respecting your people on the shop floor; if leaders talk over them in the workshop, then you won’t get the best value out of it.

    It’s a short time frame, but we want to understand as much as we can about your business as possible. If you want to know the type of questions we’ll likely ask, I often include the following:

    • What are your products/ranges?
    • What are your different processes, and what are the complexities they bring?
    • How are processes managed? Are data and systems used, or is a paper-based system in place?
    • How do you plan and how prioritise?
    • What’s your culture like? How do you manage people?
    • What skills do you have within your business? Are there any gaps in relation to technology?
    • How do you monitor performance and service?
    • How do you work with customers? What’s your competitor advantage/USP?
  • What happens after the workshop?

    Following the digital transformation workshop, we’ll begin putting our recommendations together. We’ll present these back to you within a couple of weeks, along with a roadmap for your digital journey and the technology opportunities within it, so you can figure out a starting point. You’ll also receive guidance on where training and skills support could help. For instance, you could benefit from organisation and workforce development (OWD) support, leadership development, or a digital technology intern.

    You’ll find it’s very much a holistic approach. We’re not trying to push or sell anything – we just want to show you the suitable technologies that are available for your business, along with the skills needed. It’s the same service that a hired consultant or change management expert would offer; only our specialist advisers give their non-biased insight to help inform your own decisions.

    Businesses are often attracted to Made Smarter because of the funding option. However, when I speak to them, it’s often clear that they first need support on their digital strategy – and this is where a workshop can really help. It gives them a strategic view, and helps them see not just the technologies, but also the skills and capabilities required, which will aid the application process when they do apply for funding.

  • How have others benefitted?

    The feedback we get afterwards is always positive. Just a few quotes from some of our case studies include:

    “This roadmapping process helped map our IT systems, show how disjointed they are and how to make a big difference with small changes. Now we are in a position where we are ready to adopt the right digital technologies.” – Andrea Hough, Managing Director of ATEC Engineering Solutions

    “The transformation workshop was a positive experience which brought the key decision makers together, allowed us to take a step back and recognise the bigger picture.” – Dan Smith, Technical Director of Twinfix

    “The Made Smarter digital transformation workshop process helped us acknowledge that the shop floor was a black box. The first vital step for our business was to get hold of all that valuable data so we could understand and control the inner workings of our operations better.” – Victoria Grant, Operations Director of Cookson & Clegg

    Those on the shop floor feel more involved, and the organisation is able to break down silos across the board. All parties get a strategic view of how technology can be used in the business, rather than it all being contained within one department.

    What’s different about our support – and specifically these workshops – is that they’re not only quick, straightforward, and can offer instant benefits. It’s the practical and bespoke advice that comes with it. No one presentation or set of recommendations is the same; it’s about the individual business.


    For instance, I recently presented to a client who really appreciated the recommendations around data systems and additive opportunities, along with suggestions for digital technology internships and advice on organisation and workforce development. The business is now able to take these tailored recommendations to their management meetings to agree what is right for them.


    If you’d like to benefit from our digital transformation workshops and receive the necessary guidance for your own business, I strongly recommend you register now. If you want to find out more, please get in touch with the team and we’d also be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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