Whether you have purchased an existing manufacturing-based business or you are involved in the development of an existing (perhaps long-established business), there are lots of areas that you need to focus on, often all at once. However, as you will be aware, trying to focus on every area at the same time is neither productive nor effective. So, where should your focus lie? This depends entirely on what you are trying to achieve. If you are trying to improve sales, then you will focus on product offering and monitoring where exiting sales come from. If you are focusing on introducing a new line or product, then you will focus on trends and analyzing these trends.
Deciding What To Focus On
To decide where you should initially focus your efforts, you need to look at the business overall, how well it is performing and what is missing. The decision-making process at this stage is important as lean manufacturing is constantly changing and evolving, and as such, you need to keep up to date and relevant in relation to what you are offering and to who.
Finances – Financial Management
Before you look at introducing new products or lines, you need to focus on the financials. What accounting processes do you have in place, and what are the finances looking like within the business as it stands. If the business has a large deficit, then you may want to look at decreasing this before moving forward and introducing anything new.
Workforce – Employee Contentment
In addition to the leadership and management in place within the business, you need to ask are the employees happy. Content and happy employees are a lot more productive, efficient, and effective than unhappy employees. So is this an area that you need to focus on. Should you be looking at retraining existing employees or offering educational courses? When employees are content within their work, they are motivated and driven to achieve success, which ultimately filters into the rest of the business.
Is the business operating as well as it could be? Are operations currently efficient and effective? To advance a business, you need to focus on the operations from grassroots upwards. Trying to change anything without first looking out how the operation works and if it is successful will just be a waste of resources.
Processes and Machinery
How old is the equipment that you are using, is it working as well as it could be, or does it cost you more to maintain both in time and money? If you are using outdated machinery to process your products, then you will soon find that you will be left behind, and your competitors will be steaming ahead.
Project and Change Management – What is the Culture Like?
Is everyone on board with change and possibly going in a new direction? To improve a business, the change starts from within and usually starts within management and leadership, so is everyone on board with change? If there are individuals that are not invested from the beginning, then you will find you are battling an uphill struggle and battle that you will not end up winning.
Customer Relationship Management
Are your customers happy with the service and quality they are receiving? Focusing on keeping customers happy will ensure that they do not start looking at moving their business to competitors. The relationships that you hold with customers will show you if your business is both sustainable and ready for any growth you are planning in the future. If existing customers are far from happy, then you need to establish where the problems lie and how you can rectify them.
Analyzing where you need to make changes and improvements is necessary as soon as you can. If you carry on as you are without making any improvements, then you will slowly see that you will lose your market share. Even if you don’t have that much competition around at the moment, who is to say that you won’t have any further down the line. Investing both time and money into change is crucial. Customers and end-users expect change to be timely and smooth, so implement changes as smoothly and efficiently as you can. After evaluating the business as a whole, focus on areas of importance first, and do not turn away help from outside sources which may be able to bring a fresh perspective to the issues and problems you may be currently facing as a business.