Developing and maintaining a working production plan is no easy feat, but the best planners make the job seem effortless.

Production planning is often overlooked as to its true value. Perhaps it is because it is often delegated to lower-skilled resources? Or perhaps it is because it is in the center of competing priorities and there are so few expert communicators who can explain it’s significance? Whatever the reason, consider increasing it’s priority.

I’ve found that the best production planners can have a HUGE impact on the key results of the business – service levels (and ability to grow the business), inventory levels (and resulting cash flow), and margins. Since I’ve been involved with planning since my first job at Coca-Cola Enterprises to the vast majority of my client projects, I have worked with more planners than most will meet in a lifetime. It always seems to be the best planners who are overlooked. After much observation, I’ve found that if a planner is able to seamlessly manage customer needs, sales expectations and inventory goals while also optimizing manufacturing efficiencies, they are overlooked because they are not solving a crisis. Instead, it looks “easy”. And, they are probably quite focused and busy keeping all these balls in the air, and so they are less likely to be skilled at politics.

Think about an area that seems to run smoothly without a lot of drama of missing materials, upset supervisors, and the like. You might just have one of these gems in your midst. Find out what can contribute to their success and supply it. I am working with one of these folks currently, and her needs are simple – she wants to learn, have her ideas listened to, feedback provided and to be appreciated. Talk about an easy win!