She says her management team was frustrated at meetings, trying to make quick decisions using data that was contradictory or outdated.
"Something definitely had to change," Sylvester says.
Later that year, GE Quartz -- a manufacturer of quartz materials and products for the semi-conductor, fiber optic and lighting industries -- launched its Growth Cockpit initiative.
The company implemented an Internet-based solution to evaluate reporting performance on key business metrics. Using the system, Sylvester's team receives daily reports from GE Quartz's operating systems in real time regarding its commercial, manufacturing, financial and cross-functional business processes.
"It's been a tremendous improvement for us. We now have people coming into discussions all using the exact same real-time data set," Sylvester says. "... It's updated as of that minute. Then you can drill down into whatever your question is ... on an order or a shipment, and you can pull that up on the screen and get all of the details."
The Growth Cockpit has proven so effective that other businesses have visited the company to study the solution.
"I think people are surprised about how much we've gotten done for such a small business, how quickly we've gotten it done and how easy it is to use. People who aren't too wrapped up in their own internal designs have been able to more quickly move over to what we've done," Sylvester says.
When a manufacturing business implements new tools, it's essential that key member represent all the critical functions of the company.
"(It's important) to have very bright IT engineers because they'll want to set a list of priorities," she says. "Out of all the (brainstorming ideas) you hear, which ones will have the biggest impact to the business if you implement them the fastest?"
Over the past three years, GE Quartz created solutions using data that can be used as the business grows over the next 20 years. These solutions are applicable globally, and if GE Quartz makes an acquisition, the process can be easily integrated into the new business. HOW TO REACH: GE Quartz, (800) 438-2100 or www.gequartz.com