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Let's look in detail at some of the actions you and your P&IC group could take for some of the above strategy areas. (They are discussed as separate actions by strategy areas but in practice are very interrelated. Properly expended efforts can generate lots of synergy.)

• Customer Service: know who your customers are, know (or find out) what their wants and needs are, what products/services we are providing them now, what products/services could we be providing to them. This will allow us to find out what improvements we could make in: what we deliver; when we deliver it; and how we do it. Are any of the things we are doing now no longer needed?
• Quality: what are the factors that make your output a "quality product"? Your product should meet your quality standards and then meet the quality standards of your customers as they define it.
• Environmental items: what items are you (and you company) receiving and at some later time discarding or disposing of that could be recycled (or not purchased to begin with); are there substitutes that have equal or less TOTAL cost and less negative environmental impact? e.g. printer cartridges are now widely recycled and at a cost saving in addition to the disposal/environ­mental savings.
• Lead Times: what are the elements in your area that impact product lead time or responsiveness to custom­ers (external/internal)?, what can be done to stream­line the process flow(s) in your area?
• Teamwork: employees take their cues from how their supervisors deal with others in the company; what are you doing to be a team player: within the company, with customers, with suppliers?
• Value Adding: have you reviewed the processes to weed out those tasks that are not required and that add no value to your output?
• Internal controls: are there proper controls in place and are your operations audited to insure they are working as needed?
• Flexibility: have you insured through training and education that you and the people in your group can quickly and efficiently meet the challenges of changes needed to have a smooth running operation (e.g., when someone is sick, on vacation or retires; when there is a major schedule change, large order, or rush order)?
• Responsiveness: This can be supported by being effi­cient, flexible, by being a smooth running operation, by being up on technology, by being knowledgeable about the company. Do we appreciate responsiveness when we are the customer?
• Technology: Also in the education and training area— are you staying informed about technology changes
that will impact you and your company so that you can take action instead of playing catch-up?
• Regulations: Also in the knowledge area—do you have in place a system to insure that you will be aware of new and changing rules/regulations/laws at the fed­eral/state/local level so that you can be in compliance at minimum cost and disruption to your operation?
• Suppliers (internal): by keeping open lines of commu-' nication with them, you can work together to improve what you get, when and how you get it, so that both you and the total company operation can improve and be more competitive.
• Asset utilization: what assets do you have (including people) that are underutilized? How could they be better utilized?
• Costs/Prices/Profits: what costs do you incur that could be reduced or spread over a larger production base; what could you do to add additional value to the product/service that would make the product/service more valuable to your customer (external) and thus allow the price to be increased? Answers to either or both of those questions will improve PROFITS!
• Continuous Improvement: do not do the above just once. Set up an environment that insures that the reviews are ongoing, that the striving for improvement is part of the daily/weekly/monthly routine. The best way to accomplish that is to eliminate all the old and counterproductive performance measures. Then uni­formly implement/institutionalize new ones that rein­force actions/behaviors that truly support continuous improvements. These new performance measures must be used in all job descriptions and evaluation processes in a uniform way or they will NOT be effective.

Does it appear that wherever you are, you can take action for improvements? If your answer is yes, do not wait for upper management. When they do come out with some directive or guidance, what you have done or have in process should easily support those initiatives.

Summary

Corporate strategies (to the extent that they have been defined and are available) can be used by a department/ group/individual to develop specific supporting strategies/ tactics/plans. But even in the absence of direction from "Upper Management," strategies/tactics/plans can be de­veloped and executed to great advantage to all concerned. You do not have to wait for upper management to make improvements.
The better the plans and the better the execution, the greater the value of you and your group to the company and all concerned. The new century is coming quickly. Plan well now, then execute well so you can be a contributing part when the new century arrives.

Don't forget the regular plan review/revision/update process.


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