People want what they want when they want it. That’s hardly a crazy concept; just one most manufacturers don’t believe applies to them. But it does. The JIT concept has been saying that for a long time, but again, many manufacturers didn’t believe their customers really wanted or needed that.
Here’s the thing: No one cares how hard your business is, or why you find it so difficult to provide what is needed or wanted at the right time. The more widespread this expectation becomes, and it is already embedded in the life of most consumers, the less willing your customers are to live with a lower level of delivery performance from you. You think B2B is different from consumer goods? Your customers are consumers too.
Customer expectations continue to evolve, and all of it is more in the vein of “I want what I want when I want it and where I want it and just exactly like I want it.” That is not going to reverse itself, hording toilet paper to the contrary.
No manufacturer can afford to continue to make large lots with long lead-times with limited customization while expecting customers to pay for inventory impacted by an engineering change. You may not like it, but it is true, nonetheless.
Here’s the question for you to ask, and then answer, for every aspect of your business: “What would it take to….?” The end of that question could be “to cut lead-times in half,” or “to cut lot sizes in half,” or “to implement customer requested changes in under an hour,” or anything else.
User-controlled pull is one aspect of evolving, but reasonable. customer expectations. There are others. Like location-independence.
Start asking the questions today, answer them, take action, and then ask them again. And of course, with each step in the process, Finish Strong.