Today, millions of hard-working men and women will celebrate Manufacturing Day across our nation. United in their mission to address common misperceptions about the industry, manufacturers will rally together to take charge of the industry’s public image, address the industry’s skilled labor shortage and promote the ongoing prosperity of manufacturing throughout the U.S.
Manufacturing has always been the backbone of Ohio – and Rea has been proud to support many companies throughout the state. In recognition of Manufacturing Day, here are five ways you, as a manufacturer, can overcome challenges facing your industry.
Be The Leader You Want to Be.
As a seasoned manufacturer, you know your business inside and out – when there is a problem, you provide a solution; when a ball drops, you pick it up. If this sounds like you, then it’s time to get out of your comfort zone. If you always find yourself in the middle of daily business operations, you’re unlikely to get out in front of opportunities that could maximize your company’s long-term value. Be the leader your company needs. Stop putting out fires. Instead, make waves.
Tell Your Story, Invest In People.
The manufacturing industry has had its share of problems when it comes to attracting and retaining a talented workforce, but you can alter how people think about a career in manufacturing by simply sharing your own stories and experiences. Unless you take the time to personally promote the manufacturing industry, your would-be employees may incorrectly associate the industry with unprofessional, dead-end jobs in dirty factories. Get out and connect with local vocational schools and other educational entities and community groups to tell your story.
Embrace A Strategy; Minimize Risk.
Every company should have a strategic plan. From financial objectives to operational goals, your strategic plan should provide your workforce with an overview of the company’s operational and growth initiatives. Formal plans should also address the company’s budget and financial forecast. Proper utilization of these plans will help you reap optimal results by providing you with the information needed to make better decisions. Below are initiatives you can include in your strategy to gain greater insight into the industry and to learn how you can better manage your current financial and operational objectives.
- Benchmarking is a proactive way to stay in line with, or ahead of, the competition. It’s important for you to understand how your company stacks up against the competition, as well as gain insight into current trends, future opportunities and potential risks.
- Key performance indicators (KPIs) are critical to the management of your daily operations. In order for you to deliver results, you and your management team must understand the resources you are working with and how you are affected. Key indicators also provide management with insight into production and can alert leaders to potential areas of risk.
- Get to know your ERP system. Many companies have implemented some type of enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in the hopes of streamlining their accounting, production, benchmarking and KPI efforts. Unfortunately, many are unable to actually use the system in the way they would like. You must take control of your ERP system and insist the vendor meet with your team to set up the ERP system in a way that makes sense to your company. An ERP system that is set up properly will provide your company with the data you need to manage your business more effectively.
- Understand your cost structure. For example, understanding what it costs to make, distribute and/or sell each unit of each product line, will give you a better grasp of how much you’re spending on material, labor and overhead, which will better equip you to allocate your efforts and resources. Unfortunately, many managers don’t understand the company’s cost structure, which puts the company at risk of losing money in the long run.
Back-Up For Safety.
Many companies in the manufacturing industry have taken steps to embrace technology and have added hardware and software to help collect data and streamline workflow; however, with the introduction of new programs and equipment comes the introduction of additional risks. Some companies have chosen to back-up their information as a way to avoid losing important data, but if the back-up isn’t tested, there is no guarantee that it will actually work. Unfortunately, some companies lose critical data simply because they fail to test the back-up.
Consider Going Lean.
The manufacturing industry underwent a significant transformation in the 90s with the wide-spread practice of Lean Six Sigma, which helps companies become more efficient and effective by introducing better processes throughout the organization. Many companies, however, have yet to incorporate Lean Six Sigma into their operations. Much has changed over the course of two decades and new uses for Lean Six Sigma have been discovered and applied to additional departments outside of just the manufacturing floor, the service and transactional functions of businesses have really benefited. You should consider Lean Six Sigma as a way to become more efficient and effective in every aspect of their business. Especially while the industry struggles to attract new talent, Lean Six Sigma may be just your company needs when you need to do more with less.
These are just a few examples of challenges facing the manufacturing industry where a trusted advisor can help you navigate through possible solutions. If you own a company in the manufacturing industry or if you want to explore ways to improve your business’s efficiency, effectiveness, profitability and risk management systems, email Rea & Associates. Our team is passionate about helping manufacturers reach new heights, mitigate risks and attract and retain employees.
Author: Kyle Stemple, CPA, Director of Manufacturing Services (New Philadelphia office)