Seven Levers to Shape Your Manufacturing Business

Why are some manufacturing businesses a hot mess, while others are a great place to work as you provide exciting value to the market?

A business is a living organism, and as such, understanding what makes them healthy and what makes them sick is instrumental to success.

Here are seven levers that apply within all manufacturers; each is addressed as part of the operations strategy, which is in place to execute the business strategy. The business is impacted by each, both individually and collectively.

The first is Human Resources. What is the strategy for how many, what backgrounds, what key characteristics? An effective HR strategy is not reactive, but rather reflects the quality of the organization you are building.

A second lever is organizational structure and role clarity. While we’re all familiar with the one box at the top, with a few under it and a handful under each of those, going on down, that is hardly the only potential structure. Even if that is the best one for you right now, that structure unsupported by clarity for each role will fail you. Titles mean different things to different people; providing common understanding of expectations of specific roles and among roles cannot be overlooked.

A third lever is production planning and control; this is the near-term management of inventories and resource utilization, and drives costs, time, and performance.

Sourcing is another impactful lever in your manufacturing business. The decisions to outsource or insource, off-shore or near-shore, leverage supplier expertise or not require strategic guidance.

Both process technology and facilities are structural levers that are often difficult to change, impact cash availability, and can add costs and time that are difficult to assess.

Product design is the 7th lever addressed today. Product design was once a matter of meeting customer specs. The long term impact of that design has been recognized, resulting in design for manufacturing, design for service, design for re-use, and additional DFX.

Those manufacturers that are a hot mess don’t manage or strategize these levers well; they may not even recognized their existence beyond daily headaches.

Outstanding high quality manufacturers think strategically about each of these levers, never considers the position of any of them optimal forever, understands that each has an individual impact, and recognizes that the collective impact of mastering each of these creates the foundation of a high quality business.

No manufacturing business can afford to overlook the consequences of the position of these seven decisive levers.

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