Improve your process and find new opportunities

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At the core of business improvement is how you can do more with, and get the most from, existing resources. Manufacturers do this well because their approach focuses on maximizing output in the most efficient way possible. Here are some common sense concepts, transferable to any company, used by manufacturers to improve their business.
Manufacturers look at their businesses as a series of processes, which is not only exclusive to the assembly line, but to other processes such as finance, marketing and HR.
Manufacturers are very good at examining these processes and identifying areas for improvement, usually through skills, systems or technology solutions:
  • Skills: This is not only about the qualifications required to do a job, but the skills that are required to deliver value to the customer. Problem solving, staff management and leadership are skills that are critical to ensuring efficiency in a manufacturing setting
  • Systems: Systems are the convergence of skills and technology to ensure a process is repeatable and geared towards high productivity
  • Technology: How a company sources and uses technology can contribute greatly to a competitive advantage, reducing labor costs, increasing output and improving high-end skills development

Opportunity knocks
By our definition, networking is more than attending business events. Networking is the broadening of relationships and collaboration activities to look at ways in which you can offer more value to customers. In terms of what a manufacturer would regard as networking, this may be through partnering with researchers, better supply chain relationships, or working with others to identify niche product offerings. Remember, the ultimate goal is to offer something that your customer values.
Opportunities and networking leverage each other. Opportunities are usually generated through the act of networking which then generates further networking and collaborative relationships.
Additionally, the opportunity and networking process is vital in checking the pulse for where your industry is headed in the future. If you have not done so already, create a profile on Linkedin and start interacting with others through groups or sharing information. It is the best starting point for anyone wanting to connect with others professionally.
By adopting a manufacturing approach and implementing these elements, businesses are able to gear themselves better for growth and in doing so, are less affected by forces out of their control. For example, many struggling businesses often look to government support or hope for an upswing in the economy as the stimulus to improving their business and it is these businesses that will continue to struggle. Those that spend time working on the core elements mentioned above are ones that will develop a viable business in the long term.
Lessons from manufacturing
• Look at your business as a series of processes
• Identify constraints and ‘waste’ in your business
• Apply skills, system and/or technology solutions to improve your processes
• Have a timeline for these improvements
• Grow the business through collaboration and opportunities
This is a slightly amended version of an article written by Steve Bryant, manager – industry leadership at QMI Solutions. It has been shortened to make it suitable for web publishing.

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