JUSTIFYING 3D PRINTING FOR YOUR BUSINESS (Part 3 of 3) Creating the Presentation

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This is the final installment of a 3-part series discussing the basics of justifying 3D printing equipment for your company. It is broken down into 3 basic tasks:

  1. Choosing the correct 3D Printer (click here to view previous blog)
  2. Collecting the information (click here to view previous blog)
  3. Creating the presentation

After completing Step 1 above, you should have narrowed your choice of 3D printing technologies and selected a couple of models to evaluate. With Step 2 you should have a thorough concept of recurring and non-recurring cost along with in idea of payback. Also, you should have collected some benchmarks or case studies to verify and promote your justification. Now we can begin Creating the Presentation for the justification process.

Whether you have to make a formal presentation to a capital committee or an informal discussion with the owner, your preparation of presentation or documentation can be crucial to persuading decision makers. We will break this presentation down into 4 basic groups; Situational analysis, Proposed capital expenditure, Timing and Know your audience.

It is tempting to start with cost and payback, most people want to get to the ‘bottom line’ quickly. This is detrimental to engage in cost without first establishing necessity and value. Your situational analysis sets the ‘tone’ for creating your case. Clearly define the current challenges and/or opportunities. This is where you can use any benchmarks, case studies and competitive reviews you collected in step 2. These will show a need for 3D printing and give credence to your next item – the proposed solution. Introduce your management to the particular 3D printing technology you have chosen and its’ applications. Also talk about alternatives, this reinforces that you have done your due diligence. Don’t forget to show risk, primarily the risk of do nothing or staying on your current path. This analysis and introduction will easily lead you into the next topic of capital expenditure.

Now you can talk about cost and payback with confidence. Our previous step 2 collected recurring and non-recurring cost, be sure to keep these separated. Only non-recurring cost should be used in the ROI (Return on Investment), recurring cost is part of the operational budget. Be sure your benchmark comparisons highlight numbers of 3D printed solutions compared to current traditional methods. Make your case about value not cost; because price is often confused with value, see our previous blog to understand cost vs value (Click here).

Understanding timing in a business is always important. You need to know if your company is in a spending freeze, these usually occur between the end of the 2nd quarter to middle of the 3rd quarter. Money tends to free up in the business in the 4th quarter as new budgets are being proposed for the following year. Question if your company is meeting current sales expectations, low performance will make financial budgets go ‘on hold’. Check on the expectation of future sales projections are, 3D printing could be a catalyst to aid sagging forecasts. Also, the best sales incentives are at the end of a quarter or end of a year, so you will need to manage the approval cycle to take advantage of any discounts.

Lastly, know your audience. Whether it is a committee or 1 person, you need to understand their opinions, preconceptions, concerns and possible objections. You can discover these from their management style. My personal experience breaks it down to 6 kinds of managers; Traditionalist, Cautionary, Revolutionary, Politician, Conductor or Visionary. The Traditionalist will need the hard number to overcome “that is the way it has always been done”. The Cautionary will need a bright ‘green light’ to proceed across the street. The Revolutionary is eager to ‘shake things up’. The Politician is tricky, because you can never be sure where he stands, he can ‘flip-flop’ quickly. The Conductor can be a great ally because he wants to facilitate across several departments, this can decrease the burden of cost. The Visionary will embrace new technology as a ‘breakthrough’. You will find a combination of these aspects in each manger, but one trait will often dominate. Know your allies effectively, use their examples and have them sell the story for you.

Hopefully, this 3-part series has given you some insight into justifying a 3D Printer for your business. If you have any other questions don’t be afraid to reach out to one our 3D printing experts.

Mark Abshire
Sr. Application Engineer, Additive Manufacturing
Computer Aided Technology, LLC