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Bill Gaw's Top 12
Lean Manufacturing


Strategies and plans (for the execution of the strategies) need to be well thought out, reviewed regularly, revised as appropriate. A hierarchy of them might include:

• Strategic Plans (what business are we in, what is the direction of the company, what are the major goals and milestones);
• Information Technology Plans (what hardware / soft­ware will be used to support the business strategies);
• Technology Plans (what are the plans for current, new and evolving technologies for R&D, Engineering, Pro­duction, etc.);
• Marketing Plans ( market share, sales forecast, pro­duction plans, MPS, MRP, CRP.)

All these plans should support the strategic plans, be integrated with the budgets, be complementary and not inconsistent with each other.
For a company to operate, these above listed "plans" are carried out. If the plans are not consciously done, they get done by DEFAULT. (The better the plans and the better the execution, the greater is the likelihood of long term success of the company.) Business literature is full of stories and case studies of companies that let some or many of the plans happen by default.
For success in the late 1990's, companies need strategies/ plans that address at least the following areas:

• Products/services,
• Quality,
• Markets,
• Distribution/service delivery,
• Customer Service/satisfaction (as they define it),
• Environmental impacts and issues (related to your products/services),
• Lead times,
• Value adders,
• Competition (what are they doing and not doing, many joint ventures today join competitors),
• New and evolving technologies, direct and indirect,
• Flexibility,
• Internal auditing,
• Costs/prices/profits/market share,
• Teamwork within the company, with suppliers, and with customers
• Continuous Improvement: performance measures, product, processes (manufacturing, services, internal business ones), personnel, relationships—internal and external including the community.

Almost all of the above can be addressed to some degree by you wherever you are in the organization. You can address most of them even in the absence of company or upper management direction. You may not be able to effect change throughout the whole organization. But YOU can get started!
For example, let's take a P&IC group that includes the Master Scheduler, MRP Planners / Supplier Schedulers, and Dispatchers. Key to dealing with the above areas (strategies) is to first understand 4 things:

• Who are your suppliers? For P&IC, information is supplied by: Engineering, Sales Forecasting, Order Entry, Production Planning, Purchasing, Outside Sup­pliers, Receiving, Operations, Warehousing/Shipping, Maintenance (PM plans), etc.,
• Who are your customers? (What is your "output" (a product or service or combination), and who gets the output?) Purchasing (new/revised PO's), Vendors/Sup­pliers (releases), Operations (Master Schedules, dis­patch lists, Capacity requirements, etc.),
• What is the value P&IC adds? They and their systems (computer and manual) integrate data (on hand, on order, customer and other demands, etc.) to generate plans for operations and purchasing/suppliers to sat­isfy the various demands; and review/revise/update those as needed. (What do you do that does not add value? There may be some activities to meet regulatory or legal requirements.)
• Know the business: One of the most disappointing and discouraging things I find in working with various groups in a company, is how little they know about the business besides what they can see from their desk. At a high level, you and your group need to understand:
— the company's products/services, markets/custom­ers served,
— the geographic areas/regions served,
— the distribution methods and channels,
— production and delivery processes,
— internal processes (e.g. AP, AR, Order Entry, etc.),
— major suppliers (production and non-production material),
— financial picture (unless it is privately or closely held).

When you have this high level view of your company, it will be easier and clearer what you can do.

To be Continued


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