Flex—delivering supply chain innovation on a global scale with Office 365

Today’s Microsoft Office 365 post was written by John Wrenn, vice president of information technology for enterprise solutions at Flex.

flex-pro-pixGlobal enterprises often struggle to maintain the kind of fast-moving culture of innovation that smaller companies appear to employ effortlessly. But this is a time of change in business, and thanks to technology advancements, global companies can communicate almost as quickly as a team working side by side. Now, companies like Flex can reach across geographical boundaries to serve global customers even more effectively than ever before. At Flex, our approximately 200,000 employees handle prototyping, design, manufacturing and logistics for customers worldwide. We’re operating as a single, cohesive company focused on innovation. It’s not just that we can communicate and collaborate efficiently among our more than 100 factories or between headquarters and our various business centers. We’re taking our focus on reinvention a step further by empowering all employees to share their ideas and experience to make Flex even more nimble.

The notion of continuous improvement is well established, but we wanted to make sure we’re capturing opportunities to enhance operations across every facet of our business—from the IT department to the factory floor. We’re supporting that effort with Microsoft Office 365, using the integrated apps not just for cross-company teamwork, but also as the basis for applications that foster innovation and process improvements. For example, we’ve built an ideation portal on Microsoft SharePoint Online where we can crowdsource ideas. Employees submit and vote on ideas, and we see which ideas gain momentum and buy-in. We’ve even included some gamification around the winning ideas to encourage our whole workforce to participate.

Giving employees the opportunity to see their ideas come to life is rewarding and empowering. It also benefits the operational efficiency of our business and enhances our level of service for customers. Supporting bottom-up communication is paramount to our ability to improve, because our employees see how things work every day and think about new ways to deliver improved results. And most important, employees can make an impact on a global level when their ideas are implemented as part of a workflow used by other colleagues.

We’ve also created interactive SharePoint Online communities for our project managers and salespeople, who can use Yammer directly from within the SharePoint Online sites or on their smartphones with the Office 365 mobile apps. Employees can freely engage with each other across geographic and hierarchical boundaries, communicating and cooperating throughout the company. Whether it’s for customer onboarding, production-line setup, materials distribution or new IT projects, select employees are using Office 365 to help us share expertise and foster better teamwork across Flex.

Our customers count on us to deliver the best solutions for their success. Showcasing the ways in which we’re tapping into our own knowledge base to become a stronger company makes us a better business partner and a smarter employer. The kinds of unified, open communication and support for innovation that we’re providing through Office 365 help us meet those goals in the modern workplace.

—John Wrenn

Read the case study for more on the Flex digital transformation.

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