Tag Archive: leverage

According to the Industry Week U.S. 500, Manufacturing is STRONG!

September 21st, 2018

 

According to the Industry Week U.S. 500 (America’s largest manufacturers), manufacturing is STRONG!  In fact, the author uses the words VERY STRONG – most likely the largest opportunity for manufacturing since the end of World War II.   Now that is saying something….

The economy is strong and is supplemented by a tax overhaul that supports manufacturers combined with a deregulation focus.  The key is to leverage the opportunity. Even though there are lots of worries about trade wars and skill shortages, thus far, manufacturing continues to outperform.  Get ready for agile and speedy manufacturers with high tech tools to outpace the pack and further spur the economy! Will you be in the fast lane or watching them race by?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Take a pragmatic look:  Are you in the fast lane, driving with the pack or in the slow lane?  

With the VAST opportunities for manufacturers to succeed, perhaps it is time to put on your turn signal and step on the gas!  As one of our LMA Associates has been saying lately, perhaps we should all “make hay while the sun shines”. Are you?

Making It Happen
Strangely, one of the most important to-do’s should be to not get carried away with all the negative “what if’s” (such as trade wars).  Of course, don’t hide your head in the sand. Stay up-to-date on what’s most likely and relevant to your industry.  Focus 95%+ of your energy on how to distinguish your company from the competition while providing superior customer experiences and enabling scalable, profitable growth.  

Make hay while the sun is shining. Bring your best team players together.  Bring in experts to accelerate progress.  Ignite innovation.  Create the environment to ensure success.  Remember your supply chain partners.  AND THEN, “get out of the way”. Success will follow.



Technologies: Paying Attention to What is Important

September 6th, 2018

There are so many new technologies and combinations of technologies, it is extremely hard to keep up.  How do you know which to pay attention to and which to ignore? Unfortunately, some clients have told us they get overwhelmed by it all and just go back to what they are expert in (running the business) and postpone the technology decision.

As much as we find that technology is NOT #1 to success, achieving scalable, profitable growth without technology is an uphill battle to be sure!  We also find some technology enthusiasts who get so bogged down in technology as the “be all, end all” to success that they actually struggle. Instead of either of these extremes, use a bit of uncommon common sense and determine which technologies are important.  A few points to consider:

  1.  Your Industry:  There is no point being an early adopter if unnecessary in your industry unless it is your competitive advantage.  Where is your industry headed? What would provide a benefit?
  2.  Your Position:  If your competitive edge is being on the forefront of delivering an exceptional customer experience, you better figure out what you need to succeed in this differentiator.  If this is the case, we bet you would need to invest in technology that would enable a superior customer experience. But it is unlikely you’d need other technology advances.
  3.  Return on Investment: As exciting as new technology can be, it pays to ensure you’ll gain an ROI.  Go through the exercise to determine if technology will enable growth, profitability, cash flow or another bottom line benefit.
  4.  Your Current State: A few of our clients have been in a position where they were limited in growth prospects without enabling technology.  Of course, they could grow by brute force with a stellar sales and marketing team; however, to grow in a scalable way, they will need to leverage technology instead of hiring just to ‘keep up’ with growth.
  5.  Your Strengths:  As with most priorities, focus on your strengths.   It can be tempting to “keep up with the Joneses” and buy the latest and greatest technology you think your competition is using.  However, instead of throwing good money after bad, think about your company’s strengths, your teams’ strengths and what makes the most sense to align those strengths with customer requirements.

In today’s Amazon impacted environment, evaluating technology to best support your business objectives is a “must”.  As much as can be accomplished through people and process alone, you will not thrive without at least thinking about technology.  

You want to be aware of what’s coming down the pike in terms of technology before you head over the edge in complete denial with your typewriter in hand.  After all, who would have thought network TV would trend towards becoming obsolete?



Buried in Data. Dig Your Way Out & Leverage for Success

June 7th, 2018

90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years. Mind boggling!  Of course, we are getting buried in data and aren’t sure how to dig our way out and leverage for success.

If you just think about your first few hours after waking up in the morning, you’ve received millions of messages and data:  1) News reports from the radio. 2) Text messages and emails on your phone. 3) Most likely you’ve driven by billboard messages on your way to work.  4) The TV might have been on in the background while getting ready for work. 5) People are calling on the phone. 6) Nightly reports arrived in your inbox.  7) Customer orders came in overnight. 8) Your machines have provided data on breakdowns, waste etc. 9) And more….

How can we dig our way out of all this data?  As with almost everything in business, the key is which data to prioritize.  

Have you thought about the strategic use of data?

Here is a short video of me answering a question on the strategic use of data at an Amazon Effect panel at the Manufacturers Summit:

A few insights into digging your way out of data:

  1. Leverage Technology – Don’t manually try to dig your way out of data.  After all, if 80% of the world’s data has been created in two years, there is no hope to dig yourself out byte by byte.  Employ the appropriate use of technology to synthesize data.
  2.  Remember: Garbage in, Garbage out – Just because you put a fancy collection system in place does not mean you are collecting valuable data.  Perhaps you are just collecting garbage. Develop processes to quickly assess the gems from the junk.
  3. Directionally Correct – We are known for using this phrase because we find it is core to success especially when it comes to data.  Don’t even think about making sense of every byte. Gain a directionally correct conclusion and make progress.
  4. Slice and Dice– Data alone is “too much”.  Set your data up so that you can slice and dice the data to dig into what is meaningful for your business.  For example, if you plan to grow in the northeast by 25%, start with the sales growth figure. Then, view it by state or customer. Check the largest increases and decreases in more detail – are there certain customers or items that are over or under performing?
  5.  Take the Bird’s Eye View – We cannot tell you how many clients end up with a great-looking report that doesn’t “add up” – not necessarily in the literal sense but in whether the information makes sense in conjunction with other indicators.  Take a step back and ask questions to make sure it “adds up”.

Our most successful clients pay attention to data.  A few years ago, an award-winning company asked us to help with a SIOP (sales and operations planning process) and an ERP selection process.  They were fanatics when it came to analyzing sales data. It certainly seemed to correlate to part of their success. If you need help thinking through your data strategy, contact us.

 

 



A Systems Checkup

February 16th, 2018

Early in the year is an appropriate time to perform a systems audit.  In fact, most clients could benefit from this at any time of the year as we often discover some significant gaps.  

As we look further, we consider this subset of the questions:

  1. Do you have clarity of your current processes? It certainly seems apparent to start here but there are many clients who would check a box less than a “B” rating.  How about you?
  2. Do your people and/or facilities perform processes in a standard way? Do you want them to do this?  Or do you encourage differentiation?  There is no right answer across-the-board here!
  3. Do you know how to utilize your ERP system to support your core processes? Do you hunt and poke around until you figure it out or is there clarity for the basic elements of the process?  Perhaps take a step back – does anyone know how to use the system to perform these processes?
  4. Do you look for opportunities to further leverage your ERP system by joining user groups, going to conferences, brainstorming with your team etc.? The vast majority of companies use 20% of an ERP system’s functionality.  Moving the needle to 30% of the best functionality for supporting your business objectives can accelerate results.
  5. How do your processes and systems interface with your customers, suppliers and other supply chain partners? If you don’t know, find out!  You might be missing a HUGE opportunity.

A regular audit of your system can uncover  types of opportunities.  When was your last checkup?



Manufacturing is at a Peak!

December 29th, 2017

Supply Chain Briefing

According to an Industry Week article, manufacturing is at its all-time PEAK!  Not only is it FAR from dead but it is at the highest point in history.  By every measure of industrial production, the U.S. is at record levels.  We are more than twice as high as we were in 1979 when we were at the peak in employment.  

No matter what measure is used, manufacturing is at the top of its game.  Inflation adjusted manufacturing GDP will peak in the 4th quarter of 2017.  Any way you slice it, manufacturing is strong.  Are you thinking about how to leverage this strength?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Manufacturing isn’t showing signs of slowing down.  In fact, with the recent tax law passage, it could get an additional boost.  Of course, the strong companies are automating and finding ways to provide exceptional customer experiences.   

There is vast potential for growth and success.  

  • Are you working with the strongest suppliers?  
  • If so, do you know how much of their capacity you use?  
  • If they continue to grow, will you continue to receive the same level of service?  
  • Are they continually automating?  
  • Do you have secondary suppliers?  

Remain Competitive and Gain Your Edge
Just because manufacturing is growing, this is by no means a time to rest.  To remain competitive and gain an edge with customers, you need to stay abreast of the latest technologies.  

  • Do you understand your customer expectations?  
  • Are you thinking about what they’ll need one, two and three years from now?  

The most successful companies are definitely thinking AND doing something about it!