By Ben Hershey, President & Coach, 4Ward Consulting Group, LLC
As companies grow and change, we should ask ourselves—what are the essential pillars of support that help companies succeed? While making changes that will transform their businesses, successful companies will rely on core pillars that form the foundation of who they will be in the future. The characteristics that I help companies leverage are:
- Transforming the business use of data
- Deploying risk management to grow the business
- Creating a business culture that serves as a center of excellence
- Modeling the business for automation
- Practicing Lean, Lean and more Lean
Making changes in your company can be difficult if your culture does not support it; but change is good and needed. These pillars will help you as you advance your business to the next level.
Leverage Your Business Data
My Dad would use the adage “garbage in-garbage out” when talking about the use of the computers back in the late 1970s, and it is still a valid assessment today! Too much data can erode what you really want to see or measure, and data that is not accurate is just as bad. When I am working with a team to implement a labor tracking scheme or Houlihan method, if data is not recorded properly, or if someone is not logging time properly, it distorts the assessment. How many times have you used the shop management software only to find out employees are not logging in and out? Business data includes monitoring performance for your teams and your customers.
Why it matters: To successfully progress toward digital business transformation, a company must capture, digitize, and optimize all customer and manufactured product touchpoints. It must look at a combination of the business model and the end-to-end process flow, which involves all the steps that occur and what is measured against KPIs. If you have a dashboard or a KPI you post which means little to everyone, then that is all you will get out of performance. Make sure your dashboard and KPIs are forward-looking, focused, and easily read by the whole team.
Risk Management & Your Business
It may sound dull and can be boring, but risk management is critical to the future success of a business. In particular, QC is important, because in many ways it is a part of your company’s risk management. SBCA has spent countless hours developing various programs to assist companies with risk management. Moreover, in a process-driven company, risk management can identify those areas where an operation needs to “tighten up” a process or change the quality of products we buy and sell.
How it matters:Risk management is part of a lean process too. By improving processes, quality, and products, we become more efficient, and our customers see us as a company they want to do business with. There are numerous soft benefits.
Creating Your Center of Excellence
When I complete work for a customer, one of the exciting things I see is the desire to be the best in their market, or be the best at a certain process. By focusing on your teams, encouraging ideas, supporting collaboration, changing processes, increasing automation, or even using robotics, you create a culture that drives excellence in all you do.
Where it matters: Change management is not a bad term. With a process-centric modeling solution, you can easily make sure the entire organization is part of every change. Workflow changes and input from your teams create reasonable and effective efficiencies and will almost guarantee success. Instead of creating a process in an ivory tower and expecting buy-in and compliance from your team, a collaborative/center of excellence process management enables an entire organization to contribute to the creation, dissemination, and evolution of processes.
Model for Automation
Very simply, this business pillar involves assessing the business process and optimizing that process for execution in automation platforms and workflows. But don’t automate just to “keep up with the Joneses.” Automate because you and your team have reviewed what can be improved, where a process is weak, where product is not produced at the rate needed for higher profits, etc. I cannot tell you the number of times I work with a company’s team and find an automated piece of equipment that is not being operated at a level that far exceeds the process when it is done manually. A favorite quote of mine on this subject is, “if you automate a broken process, you just foul it up faster.”
When it matters:Ideally, you will have a strategy model with associated goals and KPIs that measure those goals—all placed in the context of your business processes. This is the only way that you will have traceability from your strategy all the way to your execution. Dashboards will show the most important processes that will have the most impact on the business. And after you automate your most important, highest priority process, you’ll be ready to move on immediately to the next for continual improvement.
Lean into the Future
With deference to Sheryl Sandberg’s book title…
Lean is not going anywhere soon, but it needs to be a part of your company’s strategic success. Having employees with a common understanding and tools to reduce cycle times, reduce costs, increases profits, and increase customer satisfaction is important today and will continue to be crucial in the future. Since earning my Lean Six Sigma Black Belt though, I’ve witnessed how tactics have continued to evolve to meet modern demands.
What matters: The key is adopting the correct approach. Today, to remain competitive and avoid disruption, companies need to prioritize projects and dovetail investments into the digital business transformation efforts of improving delivery to our customers and optimizing the margin in our operating P&L’s. Once your processes have been prioritized, you can deploy your lean “Swat teams” to focus on implementation. At the end of the day, the organization will reduce errors, reduce waste, be more effective, and be more cost efficient.
Remember, change is not easy, but capitalizing on these pillars can build the foundation for your success. It’s time for you to move your team from the “just existing” track and onto the disruptive track of success. My experience with 100’s of companies has helped me to focus companies on these tracks of success; if we can be of assistance to you, please contact us.
Best Practice Tip
Not only is Quality Control necessary in the component industry because we’re producing structural products, it’s also a tool we can leverage in a lean manufacturing environment and use in our efforts to improve our operations. If you’re not using SBCA’s QC programs for both Trusses and Wall Panels, then I encourage you to sign up today. The program will improve your productivity and have potentially huge risk management benefits. SBCA is continually improving the QC program and making it easier to use, so get on board and find out how you can benefit today!
Ben Hershey is CEO of 4Ward Consulting Group, LLC, the leading provider of Management and Manufacturing Consulting to the Structural Component and Lumber Industry. A Past President of SBCA, he has owned and managed several manufacturing and distribution companies and is Six Sigma Black Belt Certified. Ben has provided consulting to 100’s of Component Manufacturers, Lumber Dealers, and Millwork Operations in the past seven years. He is the expert the industry turns to when they need assistance. You can reach Ben at ben@4WardConsult.com or 623-512-6770.
© 2018 4Ward Consulting Group, LLC