Friday, September 15, 2017

A Year to Go...

If your organization is certified to ISO 9001:2008 (or ISO/TS 16949 or AS9100C) you have approximately 365 days left to upgrade your Quality Management System (QMS) and have your Registrar audit it. In fact, you should aim to be done and have your certificate in hand by the end of August 2018 at the latest.

Meeting the Deadline
To be exact, ISO 9001:2008 expires at midnight on September 14, 2018. A question I am often asked is: What if an organization wasn’t able to prepare and successfully complete their audit? The simple answer is that the Registrar would request their certificate be returned, the organization would not be able to post their certificate on their website (for example) and they would not be able to use the Registrar’s logos, etc. Simply put, you'll have to start again.

New Audit Process Certification
For organizations that received their ISO 9001 certification before 2011, the new audit process according to ISO/IEC 17021 involves:

  1. Submitting an application to a Registrar
  2. Scheduling a “Stage 1” Audit
  3. Scheduling the “Stage 2” Audit
  4. Responding to Any Non-Conformities
  5. Obtaining a New ISO 9001:2015 Certificate

Costs of a New Certification
Significant consideration should be given to the cost of going through the certification process. If you miss the September 14, 2018 deadline, it will not matter that you had a fully functioning and compliant QMS the day before expiration. The Registrar is required to treat it as a new certification. This new certification will cost you:

  • Money - At an industry average of $1,300-$1,400 per audit day for your organization (view details of audit duration), plus various additional fees, travel costs, etc., certification can get costly. It makes better sense to do what it takes to maintain your certification.
  • Delays - From start to certification in hand, the whole process could take 150 days (or more). During this period, the organization is at risk of losing existing customers and missing out on acquiring new business. 
  • Availability of Auditors - If a significant majority of organizations leave their upgrade audits until 2018, there may not be sufficient, qualified auditors to do the work. Schedules come under pressure, and this can trickle down to clients seeking to squeak in their audit before the September 2018 deadline.

Preparation is Key - Contact The Center 
Upgrading from ISO 9001:2008 to ISO 9001:2015 does not need to be a difficult task. Contact the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center at ISO@the-center.org for assistance. Our ISO 9001:2015 Transition program can be accomplished in four visits and will expertly guide companies through the process. One recent participant shared the following with us after their audit:

“The auditor was particularly impressed with the way we rolled our SWOT analysis into our strategic plan. She went on to describe it as a best practice and commented that overall we were very well prepared.” 

Clearly, as with most things in life, proper preparation makes all the difference in the world.

MEET OUR EXPERT
Andy Nichols, Quality Program Manager

Andy has 40 years of expertise in a wide variety of roles and industries, with a focus on quality management systems in manufacturing organizations. In addition to his ISO 9000 Management Systems experience, he has worked extensively with ISO/TS16949, ISO/IEC 17024 and ISO/IEC 17025. His broad practical knowledge of ‘Quality Tools’ includes: SPC, FMEA, Quality Circles, Problem Solving, Internal Auditing and Process Mapping. He has also been an IRCA and RABQSA accredited Lead Auditor. To read Andy's full bio, visit click here.


Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Low Unemployment Means it’s Time to Get LEAN!

A low unemployment rate is favorable for the economy and the general public. But, what if you’re an employer struggling to find additional staff and resources to produce and deliver a large influx of new orders? How do you fulfill your obligations with a dwindling candidate pool?

You get lean!

With a lean transformation, you could easily increase your output by as much as 20%. Do you know that 5S is often considered the foundation of implementing a lean program? That’s right. Creating a clean, safe, organized work environment is essential when crafting a lean strategy. It’s often said, “If you can’t do 5S, you can’t do lean.” 5S is a proven method used to systematically organize, clean and standardize the workplace that maximizes efficiency in all phases of the business.

What’s the true benefit of 5S for your business?
Ben Franklin said: “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”

Time wasted looking for tools, parts, utensils, notepads, brooms, pans or cleaners should be eliminated. Let’s look at the following scenario: The average worker may spend about 10 minutes per day looking for things. He or she may look for a tool or a part or even just walk to a storage location that’s not nearby. The worker may even be walking around clutter or piles of inventory just to get to something—which adds up to 50 minutes per week! If that employee works 50 weeks per year, the total amount of time he or she might spend walking, looking and retrieving items they need would equal more than 41 hours. That’s an entire week by the end of the year—for just one employee!

5S is only the first step in a lean transformation. There are many more tools available to improve efficiencies and drive waste from the system, none of which ask workers to work harder, faster or longer. Other successful lean tools include:

  • Standard Work: One of the most powerful but least used lean tools, Standard Work allows the task to get done using best practices and performed the same way to yield consistent results. 
  • Poka Yoke: Often done in conjunction with Standard Work so the ability to make errors is not allowed, Poka Yoke is a Japanese term that means “mistake-proofing” or “inadvertent error prevention.” The key word is “inadvertent,” as Poka Yoke is any mechanism in a lean manufacturing process that helps an equipment operator avoid (yokeru) mistakes (poka).
  • Visual Management System: The implementation of a visual management system is also important when streamlining operations since visual cues are used to communicate messages, check inventory levels and re-order points—often taking the guesswork out of operational decisions.  

Do More... with Less!
By implementing lean strategies, you can eliminate waste, maximize efficiency, and work smarter. Isn’t it time for a lean transformation?

The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) has helped Michigan’s manufacturers for more than 25 years with lean implementation strategies. The food and agriculture industry in Michigan is exploding and many food processors are realizing that food processing IS manufacturing. For additional information, contact me at jspillson@the-center.org.


MEET OUR EXPERT
John Spillson
Food Business Development Manager

John Spillson is a member of The Center’s Food Team. For more than 20 years, John owned and operated his own food processing company, taking a family recipe of rice pudding into five states. This experience has given him extensive knowledge in production, sales, food safety, marketing, warehousing and logistics. To read John’s full bio, visit the-center.org.





Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Looking for Commercial Success?

Add Video to Your Website


By: Charlie Westra


Nothing increases website engagement, generates sales and connects with customers like video. Why? The right videos can turn your boring, static, day-old doughnut website into an engaging, interactive destination. Videos are the perfect way to communicate your company’s own unique story, explain your product’s value, cultivate existing relationships and introduce yourself to prospects. According to the Online Publishers Association, 80 percent of Internet users recall watching a video on a website they visited in the past 30 days. Of that group, 46 percent took some action after viewing.

Do you want your viewers to take action? If so, read on…

Before the rise of the Internet, television commercials made their mark on our culture. Impactful, meaningful or just plain unforgettable, these :30 or :60 gems are prime examples of how a short video can leave a long-lasting impression. So, what can we learn from some of the most iconic television commercials of all time? A LOT. (If you aren’t familiar with a few of the commercials I mention in this blog, look them on up YouTube. You will thank me!)

Four Ways Video Can Benefit Your Business

1. Educates Customers – (Flo from Progressive knows her stuff.) You understand your product(s) inside and out, but do your customers?

Show your product(s) up close or in action
Tell your customers why your product is innovative or useful
Demonstrate and explain how your product works

2. Puts a Face Behind the Name – (Remember Dave Thomas from Wendy’s?) Your business is not just a building or a parking lot. It’s the people who matter most.

A brief video can welcome potential employees
Introduce your leadership team and key personnel
Customer testimonials will portray your company in a positive light

3. Encourages Repeat Visitors – (From Abraham Lincoln to the rock band Styx, Geico does it right by constantly mixing it up.) By changing your quality content on a regular basis, Google will re-index your site, providing enhanced search engine optimization (SEO) opportunity.

Use a subscription feature to inform visitors about new content
Promote upcoming events and summarize recent activities
Produce weekly, bi-weekly or monthly videos to highlight timely news

4. Search Engines Thrive On Video Content – (“I’m Lovin’ It” and “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” were popular messages for many reasons.) With proper video SEO, you can use video to drive more traffic to your website.

Use keywords when crafting titles and tagging videos
Each video produced should focus on a specific search term
Utilize several video sharing sites to link back to your company’s website

When producing videos, you must keep the following suggestions top of mind. Otherwise, your customers will be asking, “Where’s the Beef?”

Repeating Message – Whether it’s Pizza! Pizza! or the unforgettable Aflac duck, make it memorable (in a good way). Focus on one message per video. Don’t overload it with too many ideas which can be overwhelming.

Make the Message Clear – “Time to make the doughnuts.” This iconic commercial from Dunkin’ Doughnuts showed us that a simple message resonates with customers. Keep your audience in mind with your choice of words. Stay away from words that your customers may not identify with or understand.

Keep It Real – Viewers appreciate real people. Think Jake from State Farm—a relatable spot about mistaken identity at 3 a.m. between a man, his wife and a khaki-wearing insurance agent. This spot is believable and doesn’t feel scripted. That should be your baseline when creating any original online content.

Be Concise – While the Energizer Bunny keeps “going and going,” the videos on your website must get to the point … fast. Engage your audience! There’s nothing worse than content that wastes time—long, awkward pauses, filler words like “um” and outdated, irrelevant content all should be avoided. Take a lesson from successful commercials and avoid useless cr … well, think about Mr. Whipple in the classic Charmin commercials. You get the picture.

Remember, videos can make (or break) your website. If your first attempt doesn’t make the cut, try again.

Looking to Achieve Commercial Success with Your Website?
Consider a resource that understands manufacturers—the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. Contact me today at cwestra@the-center.org.



MEET OUR EXPERT

Charlie Westra
Growth Services Program Manager

Charlie Westra is a Program Manager for The Center. He assists with the development and implementation of online growth strategies that are designed to increase online traffic, revenue and engagement. To read Charlie’s full bio, click here.











Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.





Friday, August 18, 2017

How Manufacturers Can Avoid Extinction by Using Competitive Intelligence

By: Shelly Stobierski
Knowledge is power, and it’s truer today than ever before. Simply consider our rapidly-evolving manufacturing environment. Revolutionary new technologies in 3D printing have emerged—shortening the amount of time it takes to develop new products. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has brought more intelligence to manufacturing operations and is enabling manufacturers to improve production processes at an impressive pace. A CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) now can track system maintenance, inspection and breakdowns, eliminating or reducing the effects of costly disruptions.

How closely do you monitor what’s happening within your market segment and manufacturing overall?

If you aren’t already utilizing regularly-scheduled market and competitive intelligence to keep a watchful eye on your competition and the industry as a whole, it’s time to start. Otherwise, you risk being rendered obsolete. Gone are the days where manufacturers can sit back and see how things played out in the market. Welcome to the new world of manufacturing where competitive intelligence reigns supreme.

Competitive Intelligence: An Introduction
According to Investopedia, competitive intelligence is the process of collecting and analyzing data about competitors’ strengths and weaknesses in a legal and ethical manner to enhance business decision-making processes. Competitive intelligence activities can be grouped into two main types:

1. Tactical – shorter-term and seeks to provide input on issues including market share and
    increasing revenue.
2. Strategic – focuses on longer-term issues such as key risks and opportunities facing the
    enterprise.

It Stems from Market Research
Market research is an organized effort and systematic approach to collect and interpret data about business and industry environments, customers and competitors for the purposes of decision-making. Competitive intelligence uses many of the same proven techniques as market research but deploys them to answer highly targeted and specific questions.

Be Proactive Instead of Reactive
A lower tier automotive supplier recently came to us to help them understand why they were losing ground for their carbon steel parts. Turns out that their competitor grabbed the company’s market share by transitioning to lighter weight materials to help them reduce weight to meet the upcoming CAFE standards. This situation could have been avoided if someone were assigned the task of monitoring what is happening in the industry.

There are several key things you can do (even without hiring additional staff) to ensure you are facing competitive threats head on. Someone in your organization needs to regularly spend a few hours each week scanning the market.

For starters, have a member of your team be on the lookout for the following:

Industry trends – Are new materials being used? What kind of new processes or emerging
  technologies are being developed?
Changes and updates to your competitors’ websites and social media sites – What are main
  themes? What are they highlighting?
Industry tradeshows – Who’s attending? Who’s exhibiting? What new and potentially
  disruptive products are being introduced?
Regulatory and compliance standards that impact your business – Are there deadlines to meet?
  Will you have to make any adjustments to current processes?

Need More Extensive Assistance?

The Research Services team at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center offers unmatched, industry-specific competitive intelligence. We gather information from industry reports, news and industry trade press, company profiles, government statistics and other reputable resources to create an accurate portrait of the competitive landscape and help companies thrive by:

Understanding market dynamics
Creating a snapshot of the marketplace
Identifying potential direct and indirect competitors
Anticipating competitors’ moves
Monitoring technology advances
Reducing risk in business decisions
… and more!

Industry insight can make or break whether your business is a step ahead of the competition—or lagging behind. Contact me at sstobierski@the-center.org for more information.




MEET OUR EXPERT

Shelly Stobierski
Director of Research Services



Shelly Stobierski is the Director of Research Services for the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center). She has more than 15 years of market research experience, with a primary focus on automotive-related manufacturing businesses. Shelly has extensive skills in survey research (phone, internet, focus groups) and in the use of proprietary industry databases. She holds a BA in English from Wayne State University and is certified as an Economic Gardening Market Research Professional by the Edward Lowe Foundation. To read her full bio, click here.






Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org

Friday, August 11, 2017

Improving Your Value: Implementing Lean Manufacturing

By: Roger Tomlinson


A manufacturer’s focus each day must revolve around increasing production, reducing costs and generating profits—while simultaneously minimizing the risk of errors. This can be a delicate balance for manufacturers to achieve. That’s why implementing lean manufacturing is a critical component for success.

Defining Lean Manufacturing: The Customer Perspective

Lean manufacturing is typically defined as the production and management philosophy that considers any part of the enterprise which does not directly add value to the final product to be non-value added (in need of elimination) or a necessary non-value-added step that cannot be eliminated now but must be minimized.

Lean manufacturing uses Value Stream Mapping to analyze a manufacturing facility’s day-to-day operations. How does the organization respond to changing market conditions, emerging technologies and customer needs? Working from the perspective of the client who consumes a product or service, "value" is any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for. Lean manufacturing makes it obvious about what adds value. After identifying the value-added steps, lean manufacturing then examines the processes that generate that value and determines how to reduce or eliminate all non-value-added aspects of that value stream.

Considering Lean Enterprise

To get started in lean manufacturing, manufacturers must assess their facility’s productivity in terms of the form of waste using the acronyms DOWNTIME:

Defects
Overproduction
Waiting
Non-utilized talent
• Transportation
Inventory
• Motion
Extra Processing

Manufacturers also can assess their current level of productivity by asking themselves important
questions such as:

Does my team clearly understand what value the customer wants for the product or service?

What are my Value Streams from raw materials, production of the product or service, customer
  delivery, customer use?

How do my Value Steams perform?

Do my Value Streams flow? If it's not moving, it's creating waste, taking up time and producing
  less value for the customer.

Are my production processes robust enough to not make anything until the customer orders it?

Is communication within our company, or between the business and the client, strong or weak?

Does my team systematically and continuously remove root causes of poor quality from
  production processes?

Do my products require constant re-work?

Are my Value Streams capable of manufacturing more product for a client ahead of schedule?

Does production come to a stand-still if an employee is sick or if a component is out of stock or a
  key piece of equipment is not working?

Lean manufacturing allows manufacturers to not only answer (and address) all of these questions, but enables them to execute a strategy of continuous improvement that is specifically designed to suit their unique set of business needs.

The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) – Your Lean Resource

The Center’s lean manufacturing consultants can provide your company with the proper tools to eliminate waste and strengthen processes for today and the future! Contact me at RTomlinson@the-center.org for more information.



MEET OUR EXPERT

Roger Tomlinson
Lean Program Manager


Roger Tomlinson is a Lean Program Manager on the Lean team at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center). He has trained and mentored hundreds of Michigan manufacturers in the entire portfolio of Lean strategies and methods (e.g., Kaizen events, Standardized Work, 5S/Workplace Organization, Value Stream Mapping, Total Productive Maintenance, Culture Change, Team Building, operations management and process re-engineering). In addition to his training and consulting work, Roger has more than 20 years of experience in manufacturing management. To read his full bio, click here.




Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.


Friday, August 4, 2017

Risky Business

Are Your Employees Making Your Business Vulnerable to Cyber-Attacks?


By: Elliot Forsyth


Cybersecurity is no longer optional—it’s a necessity for business survival. As cyber-attacks have become increasingly sophisticated and the frequency continues to escalate at breakneck speed, it’s imperative that your business has a plan to combat these dire threats. After all, it’s no longer a question of “if” a cyber-attack will occur, it’s now a matter of “when.” According to a Deloitte report, 39 percent of executives surveyed experienced a breach in the past 12 months.

While technical compliance issues are an integral part to help safeguard your business, one critical element is frequently overlooked—the human element. Cybersecurity is primarily focused on the dangers of outside threats, but businesses must recognize that inside cybersecurity threats caused by employees are equally damaging and expose your business to serious vulnerabilities. Worst of all, your employees might not even be aware they’re putting your business at risk!

The emphasis on staff safeguards and training is evident in a guiding cybersecurity document published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The publication, known as NIST 800-171, is a fundamental part of requirements for Department of Defense (DoD) contractors who must comply with Defense Acquisition Regulations System (DFARS) clause 252.204-7012 by December 31, 2017.

The focus of NIST 800-171 centers on Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), unclassified information that must be protected from public disclosure. NIST’s Special Publication 800-171 defines policies in 14 main categories that apply to all prime and subcontractor companies conducting business with the Federal Government. Five of the 14 components address the human element of cybersecurity. By following the best practices for each, you can make a significant impact on the security of your organization’s infrastructure, as well as meet compliance requirements for doing business with the DoD:

Access Control & Identification and Authentication – 80% of cyber-attacks are attributed to weak authentication (Source: Dr. John Zandargi, Acting Department of Defense Chief Information Officer). Enforce a minimum password complexity and change of characters when new passwords are created, and prohibit password reuse for a specified number of generations. To maximize security, limit system access to authorized users only. Protect wireless access prior to allowing such connections and encrypt CUI on mobile devices and mobile computing platforms.

Awareness and Training – Ongoing training and education is essential for all employees. Ensure that managers, systems administrators and all users of the organizational system are aware of the security risks associated with their activities and of the applicable policies, standards and procedures related to the security of those systems. Verify that staff personnel are adequately trained to carry out their assigned information security-related duties and responsibilities.

Personnel Security – According to the 2017 Black Hat Attendee Survey, the most feared cyber attacker is someone who has “inside knowledge of my organization.” Always screen individuals prior to authorizing access to organizational systems containing CUI. Ensure that CUI and any systems with CUI are protected during and after personnel actions such as terminations and transfers.

Physical Protection – Limit physical access to organizational systems, equipment and the respective operating environments to authorized individuals only. Protect and monitor the physical facility and support infrastructure for organizational systems.

The Best Advice? Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late. 

Are your employees unknowingly sharing highly-sensitive information? Are safeguards in place to ensure an employee doesn’t leak confidential data to a hacker? Are you at risk for losing DoD business? When you have proper training and safeguards in place, you can confidently answer these questions and help protect your organization and intellectual property.

Ask how the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) can help. Contact The Center today at 888.414.6682 or email cyber@the-center.org to get started. Have a question? Read our most frequently asked cybersecurity questions here.



MEET OUR EXPERT

Elliot Forsyth
Vice President of Business Operations

Elliot Forsyth is Vice President of Business Operations at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) where he is responsible for leading practice areas that include cybersecurity, technology acceleration, marketing, market research and business development. The Center plays a lead role in coordinating and streamlining technology-related services to Michigan’s established industries and in assisting businesses to diversify into new and under-served markets.

As a National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) affiliate, The Center has developed a state-of-the-art cybersecurity service for companies in the defense, aerospace and automotive industries. Over the past two years, Elliot led this effort and expanded his expertise in cybersecurity, supporting Michigan companies to safeguard their businesses and maintain regulatory compliance. As a result, Elliot has been quoted and interviewed by print, broadcast and online media outlets, as well as presenting at numerous conferences and events.

Prior to joining The Center, Elliot spent more than 20 years gaining broad, global business experience in high tech and manufacturing companies. He has a proven track record and practiced methodologies to transform global corporations for high growth and profitability.



Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.







Friday, July 28, 2017

Key Ways Manufacturers Can Improve Profitability

By: Cheryl Burt


The goal of any manufacturer is simple—be successful. This can be measured in many ways (happiness, money, health), but in terms of running a business, profit is essential for survival. It’s possible to generate large sums of money in customer sales and still go bankrupt after paying employees and taking care of bills such as rent, electricity, gas and insurance. Fortunately, there are four simple steps that any manufacturer can take to help ensure that their company avoids money troubles.

Step One: Take Time to Understand Your Company

Manufacturers often produce goods on a large scale; therefore, it is necessary to fully understand the capacity of your company and what impacts it. Make it a priority to change your perspective. Spend some time in a different department to get insight from those who thoroughly understand your business and which goods might generate the greatest return on investment.

Step Two: Cut Production of Unprofitable Goods

If you’re breaking even on a product or service—or worse yet, losing money—it’s detrimental to the future of your business. While it can be a difficult decision to discontinue a product that your customers love, these choices are mandatory to keep your business afloat.

Before deciding on whether to start the production of a good, be sure to set a time limit on how long the product can be produced without making any profit. After your designated amount of time is over and you’re not happy with the profit, end production. The same rule can be applied to products that were profitable in the past, but have been steadily declining in recent months.

Step Three: Use Process Key Performance Indicators

Process KPIs are different from KPIs because they tell you what is happening in your business instead of telling you what has already happened. They’ll give you information about the success of a process and a chance to fix any problems before the process ends in failure. Being proactive is key to running a long-lasting, revenue-producing business and KPIs allow and encourage it.

Step Four: Welcome Change

It is vital to the success of your company to continuously adapt with the ever-changing world. Strategies that worked years ago may be outdated, or products that were once in high demand may have gone out of style. That’s why you must be open to new ideas that may benefit your business, even if they aren’t your own.

Taking the time to understand what your business needs to be profitable will keep you out of the red and in the loop! By using the steps above, you’ll increase the effectiveness of your company and watch your profits grow.



MEET OUR EXPERT

Cheryl Burt
Senior Business Solutions Manager

Cheryl Burt is a Senior Business Solutions Manager with the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center). Cheryl works directly with manufacturers in Macomb County. She is a successful Account Manager with an extensive background in business development, operations, business strategy, sales and relationship building.

She has spent the majority of her career in sales of ISO 14001, ISO 9001:2000 and ISO/TS 16949 training and consulting. Cheryl also has been responsible for selling a broad range of quality solutions to help customers better customize manufacturing processes, enhance product flow and reduce operating costs.



Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org





Friday, July 21, 2017

Unlock Your Company's Potential

Key Benefits to Business Operations Planning


By: George Singos


Most small to mid-sized manufacturers think they’re doing enough to help their business thrive, but the reality is—they aren’t. So, how can you tell if you’re doing your part to maximize your organization’s success. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Are your sales increasing while profits are decreasing?
2. Would you like new ideas to enhance organizational performance and propel growth?
3. Are you interested in identifying inefficiencies in your organization?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may not be doing enough to unlock your company’s potential. No need to worry. An operational planning program can offer a multitude of benefits for manufacturers. In fact, the information gathered during a business planning process will help identify the areas where an investment of time, effort and money would generate greater returns. Let’s take a closer look at four benefits and what it takes to make them work:

Offers Strategic Direction – A concrete operational plan helps management be proactive instead of reactive during a crisis or unexpected turn of events. Having an operational plan in place helps management swiftly make decisions when timing is critical. It promotes rational thinking instead of panic.

Promotes a Healthy Business Model – Everyone on your team will know exactly what their role is within the organization. From handling quality issues to initiating sales calls—the operational plan will clearly outline your organization’s processes and who is the responsible party for implementing them.

Manages Goals – Does your business have clearly defined goals? Are those goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound)? A carefully crafted operational plan can help track progress and milestones (both minor and major).

Measures Success! – Reporting on the goals is critical. Without a plan in place, you won’t have any way to tell if your business is truly meeting its strategic goals. Whether it’s monthly or weekly, leadership must evaluate how the business is progressing against its operational plan. Don’t forget to communicate this vital information with all employees.

Workshops that Work
The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) has the expertise and the resources to help your business maximize efficiency and put you on the path to greater profitability. During our comprehensive Small Business Operations Planning or Leadership-In-Action workshops, our team of consultants will identify your organization’s strengths and weaknesses and produce a strategic plan—fostering a culture of innovation and improvement.

Both the size of your organization and the complexity of the project will determine which workshop is ideal for you. The integrated format enables participants to effectively develop specific goals, detailed plans to meet these goals and an action item list with metrics to measure performance.

Business Operations Planning is the Key to Success
Contact me today at GSingos@the-center.org for more information.


MEET OUR EXPERT

George Singos
Business Leader Advisor


George Singos is a Business Leader Advisor for the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. He has more than 30 years of manufacturing experience in various capacities. For the past 20 years he has focused on sales and marketing management both domestically and internationally. To read George’s full bio, click here.click here.








Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org


Friday, July 14, 2017

Drowning in ISO Paperwork?

How to Stay Afloat


By: David Bradley

ISO 9001:2015 blends documents and records into a single concept called “Documented Information” and no longer requires any documented procedures. If you’re still in the ISO transition phase, you might be thinking that certain procedures for handling documents and records got a lot more complicated—but did they?

If your procedures for documents and records served you well under the 2008 version, they will probably do the same for the 2015 version. Just because they are no longer mandated does not mean they should be discarded. (This holds true for any document or record you had under the 2008 version.) So, how can you tell if you can discard any of your old documents or if you need additional documentation you did not have in the past?

To help prevent paperwork overload, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is the document required by the standard? If the standard requires you to have documented information, does this document meet that requirement? If the answer is yes, then you need to keep (or perhaps generate) the document. Or, you may need to modify the document to meet the requirements or intent of the standard. If the answer is no, then proceed to the next question.

2. Is the document required by either your customer or governmental (regulatory) entity? If either your customer or the government requires the document, then you need to keep it. As with question one, you may need to modify it to meet the requirements. If neither your customer nor the government mandates the document, then advance to question three.

3. Is the document required? You may have documents that are not required by anyone external to the organization, however, the absence of the document could result in unwanted variation. Think of pain here. If we remove the document, could you experience pain? There also may be pain because of the document. Perhaps the document prohibits the flexibility required to effectively and efficiently engage the process. If it is required by necessity, then you must keep the document. Again, modification may be necessary for the document to meet your operational needs. If it is not required by necessity, then jump to the final question.

4. Is it desirable to keep the document? While some documents are not required, they still might be worthwhile to keep.

By asking these questions, you can quickly identify documents that will remain part of your Quality Management System and those that can be discarded. When tossing documents, it’s often helpful to keep a copy in archive.

In any instance, your documents should be up to date with the requirements and your processes.
As processes are performed, verify the documents are still the appropriate reflection of the current practice. As you engage your customers, verify any change to customer requirements. Also, many regulatory documents are reviewed or revised on a yearly basis. Keep track of those changes as well.

Your documentation should assist you in providing a quality product or service. Remember, a well-run system will work for you, not the other way around. Use common sense and frequently ask yourself the previous questions to help maintain a successful Quality Management System that keeps documentation at a minimum level—and your head above water.



Meet Our Expert

David Bradley
Quality and Environmental Services Program Manager

David Bradley has been The Center’s Program Manager in QMS for 18 years and is a member of the Quality Team. His expertise includes ISO 9001, TS 16949, AS 9100, ISO 13485 management systems, Automotive Core Tools, ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems and OHSAS 18001 programs. To read David’s full bio, click here.









Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Build (and Maintain) a Thriving Business

Align Your Mission, Vision and Strategic Plan


By: Ron Quinkert


Most businesses are formed because of an owner’s vision. But, what happens when that vision isn’t conveyed to the employees, and it doesn’t evolve into a carefully drafted mission statement and strategic plan? Unfortunately, this is a common problem—and it sets up the business to fail.
Whether you’re a small or mid-sized manufacturer, you must be keenly aware of three essential elements to build and maintain a successful business—a mission statement, a vision statement and a strategic plan. Leadership must be accountable for making sure all employees’ work continues to support each area. Let’s take a closer look…

Mission Statement
According to Google, a mission statement is a formal summary of the aims and values of a company or organization. Leadership must emphasize the current mission statement to all employees and clearly communicate the purpose and primary, measurable objectives. Remember, your mission is your company’s purpose and should actually inspire and unite employees around a common good.

Vision Statement
A vision statement helps describe the organization's purpose. Vision statements also include the organization’s values, give direction for employee behavior and help provide inspiration. While the mission statement is often in broad terms, the vision statement narrows it down. A key point to consider, a vision statement is how to accomplish the mission, plus it’s measurable.

Strategic Planning
Per Wikipedia, strategic planning is an organization's process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy. It may also extend to control mechanisms for guiding the implementation of the strategy. A strategic plan is a living document and shouldn’t be hidden in a drawer. When opportunities arise or shift, revise it! Don’t forget, any changes need to be shared with the entire organization.

Once you’ve rolled out your new mission, vision and strategic plan, here are a few ideas to help keep your workforce engaged:

Surveys
Ask questions about mission, vision and values to see where your staff stands. If you find that your employees’ answers are inaccurate or inconsistent, you’ll need to help them better understand how to contribute effectively.

Decision-making
When a company outlines its mission, everything and everyone begins to head in the same direction. It becomes apparent who is working on the mission—and who isn’t—and allows management to take the necessary steps to get the team on board.

Company-wide Meetings
Regularly share news about how the company is striving to reach its goals. Not only is a well-informed workplace much happier and more productive, but this also helps the entire organization focus on what’s truly important.

Individual Goals
By analyzing how an employee helps achieve the company’s mission, vision and strategic plan, management can make it more relevant to the individual. This not only helps with engagement, but makes the work more meaningful.

Set Up Your Business (And Your Team) for Success
Need help generating or revising your mission, vision and strategic plan? The Center is your best resource. Contact Ron Quinkert today to get started: RQuinkert@the-center.org



MEET OUR EXPERT

Ron Quinkert
Senior Business Solutions Manager

Ron Quinkert is a Senior Business Solutions Manager with the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center and has 20 years of automotive sales and manufacturing experience. He works directly with manufacturers in seven Southeast and Central Michigan counties. He is a seasoned professional with expertise in team building, automotive product and manufacturing processes, tool design, operational audit practices, procedures and improvements. To read Ron’s full bio, click here.








Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.

Friday, June 30, 2017

ISO 9001:2015 Internal Audits

“Is the Process Approach to Audits Just a Myth?”


By: Andy Nichols

Since ISO 9001:2000, it’s become increasingly common to consider that an organization’s Internal Quality Audits be performed using the so-called “Process Approach.” At the time of publication, that particular version of the International Standard for Management Systems contained no description of what the process approach was. The recently introduced 2015 version makes the “Process Approach” a lot clearer by describing what is envisaged, in section 0.3 of the Introduction to the Standard–and how it applies to the quality management system–development, implementation and improvement. Reading further, the text goes on to describe the Process Approach involving the “systematic definition and management of processes, and their interactions, so as to achieve the intended results.” There’s no mention of anything to do with conducting internal audits in any particular fashion.

Perhaps the Internal Audit requirements, found in clause 9.2, will reveal something…

This particular clause states that “the organization shall:

a) Plan, establish, implement and maintain an audit programme(s) including the frequency, methods, responsibilities, planning requirements and reporting, which shall take into consideration the importance of the process concerned, changes affecting the organization, and the results of previous audits;”

Interestingly, even this statement, which deals with the actual planning and implementation of the internal audits, doesn’t require that those audits shall (or even should) be conducted using the “process approach.” In basic terms, it simply states that the audit programme has to consider the importance of the (quality management system) process concerned. Nothing requires an actual audit of a process! So, why has the mantra of “Process-based Internal Audits” become so pervasive?

Maybe “mission creep” has occurred from the influence of the Certification Body auditors who were required to change their approach to one of auditing process(es), around the time ISO/TS 16949 was published. This era ushered in the use (by CB auditors) of the “turtle” diagram for audit planning, which has become widespread throughout their client base, too.

Although not advocating against the internal audits of only processes, a risk-based approach to the considerations of what to audit and when can be very useful. Empirically, we know that risks occur in business, and they don’t always occur within a process. Traditionally, risks are associated with something new and/or changed or activities affecting an organization:

Product designs & specifications
Sources of supply
Personnel
Technology

By reference to the diagram below, adapted from James Reason’s “Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents,” (ISBN-10: 1840141050), it can be seen that risks occur throughout an Operation.


Clearly, the selection of a specific process may help when considering what part(s) of the management system to audit, however, further planning may reveal that it’s not always the whole process which should fall under the audit spotlight… It may be a relatively simple activity contained within the process. Perhaps a review of a requirement (customer order) and a subsequent change to that requirement may mean that a second review isn’t as robust. In such a case, auditing the entire process may be unnecessary in determining where the change “slipped through the cracks.” Experience also shows that it can be the interaction between processes where issues manifest themselves – at the interface of two (or more) processes.

It follows then, that without a clear, specific requirement to audit (only) processes, an organization is free to choose a specific audit “scope” and “criteria” if those define something within the quality management system which represents risk to effectiveness in achieving intended results. In addition to considering a process as the scope of an audit, the following also may be used:

A customer and/or regulatory requirement – may be implemented in parts of multiple processes
A physical area or location – a warehouse, for example
A specific requirement from the ISO requirements – when establishing the QMS
A project – improvement, new product design, the implementation of a new technology, etc.
An activity – something which may be part of an overall process

For more help in establishing and managing an effective internal audit program, to meet ISO 9001, AS9100D or the IATF 16949 requirements, contact us at: ISO@the-center.org.




Meet Our Expert

Andy Nichols
Quality Program Manager


Andy has 40 years of expertise in a wide variety of roles and industries, with a focus on quality management systems in manufacturing organizations. In addition to his ISO 9000 Management Systems experience, he has worked extensively with ISO/TS16949, ISO/IEC 17024 and ISO/IEC 17025.

His broad practical knowledge of ‘Quality Tools’ includes: SPC, FMEA, Quality Circles, Problem Solving, Internal Auditing and Process Mapping. He has also been an IRCA and RABQSA accredited Lead Auditor.

To read Andy's full bio, visit click here.




Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Process Mapping: Addressing the Elephant in the Room

By: Chuck Werner

When teaching a new group of Continuous Improvement (Lean and/or Six Sigma) students, it’s always critical to emphasize the importance of the first “team” activity of any project or kaizen— the process map.

There are many benefits to process mapping. One is its highly visual nature. The ease of comparison between what we THINK happens and what actually does is another. It also helps to focus on what area(s) of the process are contributing to the problem or performance of the process. To illustrate the first and potentially most impactful output of the process map, let’s consider a very old, well-known story.

The Blind Men and the Elephant


Six blind men once lived in a village. One day, they heard that there was an elephant in the market. The men had no idea what an elephant was. And even though they could not see, they decided to go to the market anyway. Their goal was to gain an understanding of this wonder they had heard about, if only through touching it. The group went to the market square where each of them touched the elephant.

"The elephant is as a pillar," said the first man, who touched a leg.

"No, it is like a rope," said the second man, who touched the tail.

"Oh no, it is like a thick branch of a tree," said the third man as he touched the trunk of the elephant.

"It is like a big fan," said the fourth man who touched the ear.

"It is like a huge wall," said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.

"It is like a spear," said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.

They began to argue about the “truth” of the elephant, each of them insisting that he was right. After a while, they became angry with each other. A wise man was passing by and saw their distress. "What is the matter?" he asked them. They said, "We cannot agree what the elephant is like." Each man then described what he thought the elephant was. The wise man calmly explained to them, "All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently is because each of you touched a different part of the elephant. The elephant has all of those features you described."

"Oh!" the men said, happy that they were each right and content in their understanding of the entire beast.

Teams, whatever their purpose, are usually cross-functional. This means they include “subject matter experts” from several areas of the process being studied—such as stamping, fixture operator, welder and inspector. Just as likely, they are drawn from different disciplines within the business, such as finance, maintenance, operations, quality and engineering. Similar to how the blind men only had knowledge of the part of the elephant they had touched, the information and expertise held by each member of the team is often compartmentalized.  Consequently, their thinking regarding root causes, countermeasures, and/or improvements, can only draw from their personal experience of the process, or those parts they have “touched.”

Mapping is the tool that enables us to take each part of the process as experienced and fit them together. By sharing these bits of information (in a systematic approach), and using them to populate a true picture of the process, we get an image that is more accurate. Additionally, each team member becomes more knowledgeable about the process itself. They begin to see how their “piece” fits in with those of their teammates.

This understanding of the whole leads to enhanced performance of the team through an understanding of the internal and external “customers” in the process. It also results in greater improvements, as all the members can bring a larger understanding to bear on the problem or process. It is through Process Mapping that we are allowed to finally see ALL of the elephant. Then we just have to figure out which bite to eat first.

But that is another story…



Meet Our Expert

Chuck Werner
Lean Program Manager and Six Sigma Master Black Belt


Chuck Werner has 27 years of experience in manufacturing, most of it as a Tier I automotive supplier. He achieved his certification as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt in 1996 and his Master Black Belt certification in 2011. Additionally, Chuck is a certified ISO/QS9000 Lead Assessor, Training Within Industry (TWI) Master Trainer and is certified in OSHA Compliance and Accident Reduction. To read his full bio, click here.







Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at click here.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Keep Your Customers Coming Back!

Five ingredients that are sure to satisfy.

By: Tricia Onesian


Whether you prefer a burger grilled to perfection or a tasty summer salad loaded with sun-ripened berries, there’s no shortage of delicious summer fare at your favorite restaurants. I’m always reminded that the overall experience is far more satisfying when a restaurant serves up delicious food and excellent service. (I consider this a recipe for success!)

What can manufacturers learn from the restaurant industry about a positive customer experience? PLENTY! Taking great care of your customers is important for every industry. According to Lee Resources, 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with you again.

Strive to give your customers the best possible service 
I’ve discovered the five key ingredients that will help your customers become repeat customers.
For best results, mix all of the ingredients together equally—and don’t forget my personal
favorite—#5!

1. Give a Little Extra – Go the extra mile for your customer. Send a thank you gift or give your customer a call just to say hello. Your customers will remember and appreciate a kind gesture. After all, 95% of consumers share bad experiences with other people (Zendesk). Be sure to give them a positive one!

2. Create an Inviting Atmosphere – We tend to only use the fancy silverware when we have guests, right? If your customers are touring your new, state-of-the-art facility or joining you for lunch, don’t just treat your customers as customers—treat them like family. And, make them feel like they are your only customer by giving them the time and attention they deserve.

3. Be Accommodating – Can you imagine if restaurants served dinner for only one hour or charged you for a little more salad dressing? Neither can I. Re-arrange schedules when necessary. Make a concerted effort to be understanding when things don’t go exactly as planned. Do what it takes to make the customer feel like you’re meeting their needs.

4. Become the Expert – Be a trusted advisor and the person your customers can always count on. Brush up on your skills and know your products inside and out. Think of it like this—once you’ve found the perfect burger, why would you go anywhere else? Your customers will rely on your wisdom instead of a competitor’s.

5. Serve It Up With a Smile – No one wants to deal with a grumpy server. The same is true for your customers. Be positive, helpful and always smile when you speak!

In a world where customer service is often lacking, give your customers more than they expect.
Whether it’s a second helping of food or amazing service, you’re bound to get repeat (and satisfied) customers.



MEET OUR EXPERT

Tricia Onesian
Inside Sales Representative


Tricia became passionate working with clients more than 25 years ago in various customer service and management positions with paper manufacturing and warehousing companies. Since joining The Center in 2016, Tricia has been enthusiastic about sharing how Michigan manufacturers can enhance quality, improve efficiency and propel growth. She is currently certified in ISO/TS 16949 Internal Auditor Training and as a Lean Manufacturing Champion.

To read Tricia’s full bio, click here





Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.



Friday, June 9, 2017

Engaging Your Evolving Workforce

Four Steps to Propel Success


By: Jamie Headley


For the first time in our nation’s history, four generations (and soon to be five) work alongside each other. Manufacturers now find themselves trying to balance age gaps that can span upwards of 50 years between the youngest and oldest employees. What can be done so every generation of your workforce is engaged? Here are four key actions that management should take to help their employees thrive:

1. Embrace different values – Each generation brings an array of skills and experience to the workplace. Different generations also are known for being motivated by and valuing different things. For example, Baby Boomers tend to be loyal to a company and value perks and prestige, while Millennials are highly engaged when they are passionate about a particular issue or cause. It’s critical for leaders to embrace each generation’s values because the one-size-fits-all approach no longer works.

2. Encourage mentoring opportunities – Promote a culture of generation-to-generation mentorship. Whether it’s a knack for utilizing the latest technology or possessing decades of in-depth knowledge on a particular subject, your staff should take advantage of their co-workers’ invaluable expertise. By creating a mentoring system in which the youngest employees learn from the seasoned professionals and vice versa, you will realize relationship-building at its best. The mentoring concept is an important element in the area of succession planning also.

3. Provide flexible training options – From onboarding to yearly training, be open to new ideas and flexible with each approach. Younger generations tend to have shorter attention spans, so training works best when it is broken down in segments that are five minutes or less. (Yes, using mobile devices to get your message across is a must.) Other employees might benefit from just-in-time learning—the skills are imparted immediately to help avoid loss of retention due to a time gap. Not sure which option is best? Ask your team for feedback.

4. Lead by example – Sometimes, the best way to learn is to listen. Develop unique and specific relationships with each person you have the opportunity to work with. A leader who encourages these one-on-one relationships focuses on the staff’s generational needs and values, creating an environment where employees want to work. So keep the lines of communication open.

While it takes time and a concerted effort to build and maintain a culture where multiple age groups are engaged in their work, generational differences actually can be beneficial to the overall operation—and success—of your business.


MEET OUR EXPERT

Jamie Headley
Senior Business Solutions Manager



Jamie Headley is a Senior Business Solutions Manager at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center). She works as an advisor to Michigan manufacturers in the Southwest region of the state, helping them to “manufacture smarter.”  Jamie is a seasoned operations professional with expertise in change management, strategic planning, leadership, process improvement, lean implementations, cost containment and operational excellence. To read Jamie’s full bio, click here.






Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.











Friday, June 2, 2017

Risk in ISO 9001:2015 Transition?

By: Dale Wicker
In the ISO 9001:2015 standard there are two basic terms encompassing risk: risk-based thinking and the compound term risk and opportunities. Risk-based thinking is intended to be the system or approach an organization takes when considering risks and opportunities. These risk and opportunities are only those that may affect the organization’s ability to enhance customer satisfaction and consistently meet customer requirements, and, as applicable, statutory and regulatory requirements.

In ISO, risk is defined as “the effect of uncertainty,” and when used is implying a negative sense, which is in agreement with the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition. So, in every instance in which the term risk is used in the new standard, it is used in the negative sense and never in the sense of a positive effect.

Opportunity, however, is presented in a less clear manner. For instance, in NOTE for Clause 6.1.2 states, “Options to address risks can include . . . taking risk in order to pursue an opportunity…” which agrees with the general understanding of opportunities, where actions are put in place for favorable or positive effects. However, throughout the standard it seems to use risk and opportunities together in a negative fashion. This seems to imply that we are to look for opportunities in the negative effects of risks and take action to prevent them or mitigate them. While this is true, it tends to place opportunities in a negative light and not line up with the general understanding. For instance, it would be a good practice to also consider positive effects that may occur that could lead to better products, improved processes, cost reductions, etc. This would line up with the general understanding of opportunities.

So what’s all this risk rattling mean?

David Hoyle, writer and Quality Management coach explains:

• An uncertainty presents a risk if its occurrence may have a negative effect on an expected result and is therefore relevant.
• An uncertainty presents an opportunity if its occurrence may have a positive effect on an unexpected result and is therefore relevant.

So, what do you need to do? 

Don’t panic! You’ve probably been applying risk-based thinking and didn’t know it! For instance, when you analyzed nonconformities and took action to prevent their recurrence, you were addressing risk; when you introduced training, you were addressing risk; when you did contract review, you were addressing risk; when you put in place controls over design, purchasing, production and service delivery, you were addressing risks. If you are currently ISO 9001 registered, none of this should be new to you. You already do these things!  The only thing that is new is the definition, which is covering a lot of what the old preventive actions required anyway.

In summary, your organization needs to have a system or approach for risk-based thinking that is promoted by leadership (Clause 5.1.1) that addresses your risk and opportunities (Clause 4.4.1, 5.1.2, 6.1.1, 6.1.2, 9.1.3, 9.3.2, and 10.2.1). You  must assess the risk and opportunities in light of meeting customer, statutory and regulatory requirements, as applicable, while enhancing customer satisfaction.



Ask Our Expert

Dale Wicker
Quality Program Manager



Dale Wicker is a member of The Center's Quality Team. He manages and delivers training and assistance to organizations in the areas of quality improvements and environmental management systems. Some of his projects involve support with the implementation of a Quality Management System including: ISO 9001, ISO/TS 16949, AS 9100 and ISO 14001. Dale also conducts training and provides consulting on the supporting tools of Quality Systems. To read Dale’s full bio, click here.






Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.



Friday, May 26, 2017

Follow the Leader

(What Happens When the Leader is Gone?)


By: Michael Beels


In the manufacturing industry, it’s desirable for family-owned businesses to be passed down from one generation to the next. Without a proper succession plan in place, a c-level family member’s sudden death or unexpected disability can cause a multitude of problems. Fortunately, proper succession planning—which strives to circumvent these unpredictable events by having a thorough program of plans and responses in place to optimally fill key leadership positions—can help lessen the disruption and deter family infighting. 

The following are some frequently asked questions I’ve received about succession planning and some helpful answers:

Q: Why do you need a succession plan?
A: There are more than 200,000 family-owned businesses in Michigan that do not have a formal plan to carry on the owner's vision after he/she is deceased or exits the business. With only 35% successfully making the transition to a second generation, both legacy and jobs are at risk. 

Q: What goes into a suitable succession plan? 
A: Above and beyond the need to find resources for financial planning, estate planning, business valuation, operating agreements, buy/sell agreements, trusts, etc., a business owner should consider the following: personal income requirements, future involvement, upcoming investments and legacy. 

Q: Who needs to be involved?
A: All family members, even those who are not currently part of the business must be privy to a succession plan. Key employees should be included, too.

Q: What strategies should be incorporated?
A: Tactics include any business competencies that need to be developed for key personnel to achieve strategic goals, planning the transition of roles and responsibilities of key management members, and determining whether the successor of the business will be found internally or externally.

Q: How often should it be updated?
A: At a minimum, annually.

Q: What should be top-of-mind when developing a succession plan?
A: The business owner must determine what they want to do with the business. Do they plan on handing off the business to a family member? Sell the business? Remain an active participant even after retiring? Answering these questions will lead ownership down the correct path for succession planning. It is highly recommended that business owner’s plan for “Emergency Succession.” What will happen if the leader were unable to remain in that role due to emergency purposes? What if they become disabled, incapacitated or even die? Would the business continue? Everything from key contacts to computer passwords must be addressed. 

Q: How can a succession plan positively impact customers?
A: Consumers become loyal to a company because of consistent work culture, efficiency of output and level of production. In order to meet and exceed current customer expectations, manufacturers must be able to maintain their daily routines no matter what the situation may be.

Q: How does a succession plan benefit employees? 
A: When a company’s culture, ethics, routine and rules suddenly change, employees may become flustered or disengaged, putting an organization at risk of making mistakes, decreasing levels of motivation and diminishing productivity. The abruptness of the situation may also result in an employee feeling disconnected, lacking support and left wanting to leave. Succession planning allows employees to adjust organically to the transition with gradual ease, while maintaining their level of productivity and motivation.  

Plan for the unexpected
Most importantly, don’t delay setting up a succession plan for your business. If you’ve already done so, congratulations! Keep in mind, however, it might be time for a review. To schedule your free assessment with the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center), click here



About Our Expert

Michael Beels 
Lean Program Manager

Michael Beels has served as a Lean Program Manager for the Lean Business Solutions Team at The Center for more than 12 years. He a Certified Family Business Advisor and RAB/QSA Certified Internal Auditor. His areas of expertise include Succession Planning, Change Leadership, Workforce Engagement and the entire portfolio of Lean strategies and methodologies. To read Michael’s full bio, click here. 








Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.