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 Strategies that worked years ago may be outdated, or products that were once in high demand may have gone out of style.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.