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Nearly 1 in 3 managers rely purely on ‘gut-feel’ for making decisions

Most manufacturers in the UK claim to be ‘data-informed’, but in reality many still rely on old processes and often fail to back up decisions using data, new research shows.

Digital workflow provider Intoware asked managers, supervisors and administration staff at 1,030 industrial businesses about the challenges they face accessing data and how confident they are using digital tools.

The vast majority of the manufacturers surveyed (86 per cent) said they valued data and ensured employees have access to data when making decisions, with 76 per cent saying they trusted their data enough to make informed decisions to complete work tasks.

However, 74 per cent of manufacturers admitted to relying on disconnected spreadsheets and other, often out-of-date, siloed legacy systems to get tasks done. In addition, over half (53 per cent) of respondents said they used data only occasionally, or not at all, to back decision-making. Nearly half of this group were middle managers.

More worryingly, a culture of uninformed decision-making is evident at the top of many companies, with 28 per cent of manufacturing senior decision makers saying they relied on gut-feel to make decisions ‘all of the time’.

Such uninformed decision-making can present serious risks. For example, introducing engineering changes without properly assessing the impact on current works in progress or raw materials can affect orders and increase lead times. Flawed decision-making is also linked to wasted man-hours, late deliveries and poor customer satisfaction.

Keith Tilley, CEO of Intoware, explained:

“The survey shows that most industrial businesses believe they are data-informed, when in reality they could be relying on old, out-of-date data. This disconnected data acts like a ball and chain, tying down staff as they spend a huge amount of time trying to unlock data trapped in spreadsheets and legacy systems to meet the demands of businesses, customers and regulators.

“A reliance on siloed data severely hinders business operations with accountability and visibility issues, as each department has their own interpretation of data, which is a problem for businesses that are increasingly under pressure to evolve how they manage resources and communicate data insights.”

Nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) of staff at surveyed manufacturers said they were interested in using more digital software tools to support their role. However, a significant minority do not yet have the skills to use the new insights these systems provide, with 21 per cent feeling ‘overwhelmed’ and another 24 per cent feeling only ‘slightly confident’ when using data for decision-making. 

For support and guidance on preparing your business for digitalisation and making data-informed decisions, contact our Manufacturing Team today.

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