Published in “ACA Group” website, January, 2010
Click here for original article.

As we begin 2010, businesses are beginning to think about preparing for a recovery. Whether or not the recovery begins and is successful, it is proven that the well-prepared will perform far better than those scrambling to survive without a plan for success. One of the keys to preparing successfully for the recovery is to prepare for success – both professionally and personally. It seems strange that this would be necessary; however, in my experience, one of the contributing causes of failure is not being ready for success. I’ve found that if you expect success, you’ll achieve it; and, on the other hand, if you expect failure, you’ll achieve that as well. So, what are a few keys to successfully preparing for success?

1. First, Plan: Without planning, you must scramble. For example, if you are a manufacturer and your sales suddenly spike by 25%, are you prepared to ramp up within your lead time? Are raw materials readily available? Are your crews ready to begin production? Although scrambling could achieve the 25% sales spike, there’s no doubt it will be at a higher cost or lower quality. For example, without planning, it is likely you’ll not only need to go to alternate, higher cost, non-core suppliers in order to get raw materials but you’ll also need to use excessive overtime to produce the increased volume.

Instead, begin planning now. It is never too early. It does not need to be complex and time consuming. Consider what will happen if various success scenarios are achieved. Put together a plan. Add “what if” scenarios. Are there items you can implement now with minimal /no cost which will set you up for success? For example, can you cross-train your crews to prepare for various production alternatives?

2. Flexibility: Flexibility is a key to success. Build flexibility into not only your plans but every business process! For example, cross training crews provides flexibility to produce multiple products with the same resources. Another example is to partner with your suppliers and internal partners to modify your product and/or manufacturing process so that you can use multiple, similar materials while meeting product specifications, which provides flexibility in terms of material supply.

3. Communication: There’s no doubt that most plans fail due to a lack of communication and execution. Preparing for success is no different! It is vital to communicate every step of the way.

Plans are useless if no one knows about them. Sound obvious? Then, why don’t our employees know our goals and plans? Have we shared critical supply chain “what if” scenarios with the appropriate supply chain partners (customers, suppliers, carriers, brokers etc)?

It doesn’t have to be complex or expensive to prepare for success; however, you will likely miss your best opportunities unless you are ready!