Ask some hard questions
There are any number of reasons that your current systems could be detrimental to the growth of your manufacturing business. Key to understanding this is recognising that you need a solution that’s capable of managing the complexities of what you do – your workflows aren’t rinse-and-repeat.
If you’ve been worrying that your business is stagnating, and that you seem to be working longer hours without anything to show for them, you and your management team need to sit down and consider the following:
- Should we be hiring more staff to cope with demand?
One of the most common problems custom manufacturers face is when their staffing is at capacity, but they’re wondering if there are smarter ways to deal with an increase in demand than simply adding more people. If your employees are feeling burnt out and overworked, their productivity is going to decline and this will be reflected in the quality of the customised products you’re manufacturing. What’s needed is a solution that streamlines your workflows, thereby reducing the stress on your team.
- Do we have proper documentation around processes?
This is a problem that often crops up when someone’s on leave, or moving on, and all the processes around their role are locked in their head, not documented. It’s essential to have clearly defined processes that are available to everyone through documentation.
- Are we using too many workarounds?
What happens when issues crop up around busy times – and most custom manufacturers are busy all the time – is that issues are temporarily resolved with a workaround that will fall apart under increased pressure. In the custom manufacturing industry, processes are developed organically, and sometimes they’ll be at odds with your current software, meaning you’re not maximising or properly utilising what you have.
- Are customers and suppliers demand increasing?
Ask yourself if you and your team are spending more and more time dealing with customers and suppliers demands around core processes like reconciliation, shipping and invoicing. You want to avoid devoting chunks of precious time to admin tasks that don’t generate extra revenue.
- Are we making too many mistakes?
A few errors are inevitable, but if you find yourself spending too much time chasing them up – the wrong product was shipped, the pricing was incorrect, the quality assurance wasn’t up to scratch – then the end result will be you wasting time correcting those errors and damaging your bottom line by having to issue refunds and replacements.
If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, then your business growth is being hampered by out-dated systems. Not only that, but your staff are growing increasingly frustrated, your customers are losing confidence in you, and your profits are being impacted.
Having the courage to grow
This may sound odd, but sometimes business owners and their management teams are afraid of growth – or rather, what it takes to achieve it. Common fears include:
- The pain of learning new technology – you know, deep down, that what you need to enable business growth is to move with the times and update your systems. But you’re worried about what it will take for you and your staff to learn a new system – especially if some of your employees have used a legacy system for many years and are stubbornly clinging to it, insisting it does what it needs to.
- The costs of implementing a new system – no-one wants to spend a lot of money, but what you have to look at is the ROI associated with it. In the custom manufacturing industry, harnessing new technology is essential, because it means gaining a competitive edge and remaining relevant. Investing in a new system that will streamline your processes, make your employees lives easier and speed up productivity will have a positive impact on your profit margins.
Think of it this way: if you’re a business owner that has outdated systems – or no systems at all – then you ARE the business. Which means that how much profit you generate is entirely down to how many hours you put in. If you want to increase your profits, you’ll need to work longer hours. And so will your team.
Is that really how you want to move forward with your business?