Five Keys to Effective Product
By Ed Potoczak • Oakstone Group, LLC
When changes to your products and processes
are not consistently planned and well-executed, the
result can be a huge drain on your cash-flow and
trouble for your sales efforts. If your customers do
not respect your ability to execute, it can make them
hesitant to place new business with you.
Here are five essentials you need to be thinking
about to ensure effective product change is occurring
in your business.
Create one version of the truth for everyone.
To create a clear, single version of the truth it
is critical to capture the complete original
requirements in a common database or
repository that all can access, as needed.
Managing changes via paper sheets in folders
can lead to lost folders and delays. Using emails
to carry around notes and updates creates risk
of many different versions. As you can imagine,
this opens the door to mistakes and problems
as the execution of the change plays out.
CLARITY IS ESSENTIAL.
Map the process clearly. Take the time (TAKE
THE TIME!) to gather stakeholders and leaders
to work out a consensus process flow. Identify
ordered steps, responsible roles/people identified
and target timeframes for actions to be
completed. Best practice workflows include
sales, accounting, design, engineering, testing,
quality, logistics, production scheduling, tooling,
manufacturing and logistics. It is often helpful
to have a skilled facilitator to listen carefully, draw
out the interests of each area and recommend
best practices to assure a thorough and balanced
process. CLARITY FOR ALL IS CRITICAL.
Thoroughly capture the requirements. Certainly,
product design data and specifications are vital
to executing change well. However, there is much
more that is important for your company to
know. Consider storing the requested delivery
date for the revised product, latest referenced
specification and standards documents and
volume changes, if any. CLARITY MINIMIZES
Keep updating your one version of the truth.
Avoid creating isolated pockets of information
on each change request. Adding new data
and facts to the official record of the change’s
requirements enables your colleagues and
suppliers to work toward one result to satisfy
your customer. As work progresses through
engineering, purchasing, and operations
culminating in the launch of the change,
what you need to deliver can often be quite
different than the original requirements.
CLARITY LEADS TO TRUST FOR EVERYONE
TO DO THEIR JOBS EFFICIENTLY.
Measure the process to enable improvements.
To help assure customer satisfaction and
minimize your time and hard costs, it is wise to
establish metrics for your change process. Key
factors can be original requested date, planned
date and actual launch date on your plant floor.
Also, consider studying actual costs versus
budget for the change. Monitor how you are
doing to identify bottlenecks and waste. Improving
your process helps your team members, supplier
and customers see that you execute well. Having
trust and respect can lead to lower costs and more
sales as the preferred, headache-free supplier.
CLARITY LEADS TO TRUST AND TRUST OVER
TIME LEADS TO RESPECT.
Remember, when your customer, your entire team
and your suppliers are on the same page, every change
can be executed with minimal cost in the quickest
time with the most customer satisfaction. Are you
putting your business in the best position to succeed?
Ed Potoczak is president of Oakstone Group LLC. He
may be reached at email@example.com
Oakstone Group is an MMA Premium Associate
member and has been a member company since
March 2019. Visit online: www.oakstonegroup.com.