Working with Manufacturing Consulting Services, Inc. FAQ
How do I get started?
Start by calling Manufacturing Consulting Services, Inc. to set up an initial phone consultation. Fill out and email the MaCS 1st_Client_Discovery_Evaluation©. This is an initial “Get to know you” document. There are a number of strategic questions that help us get to know you. The initial phone consultation typically takes about 30 minutes and allows us to ascertain if there is a high probability of fit between our organizations.
How do I benchmark where I am and my vision of where I’m going prior to commencing a consulting engagement?
We asked new clients to fill out the MaCS_2nd_Client_Discovery_Evaluation©. This is a much more detailed evaluation in order to maximize our project time together.
How will we determine where to get started?
“Throughput,” actually doing what you do, is the purpose of the existence of any organization. There will usually be one task in your overall process that will limit the amount of throughput for the whole organization. This is your central constraint. Between 3% and 5% of the time there are two tasks which trade-off acting as the central constraint. THIS is the task (or the tasks) in the Concept to Collection process that consistently yields the biggest impact for the whole organization.
Many companies that attempt to improve their organization’s revenue or purpose for existence try to hit everything all at once. This shotgun approach to improve multiple areas at once is impractical because an organization typically does not have the resources necessary to improve all their processes at the same time. It is also ineffective because, although you will get local efficiencies were ever you do the improvement projects, MORE THROUGHPUT WILL NOT OCCUR unless you, by accident, hit the central constraint.
Under the guidance of Mr. Ward, your approach to problem-solving will become increasingly more methodical and focused. By applying the improvement techniques taught by Mr. Ward (and introduced in the theory on this site), you will be able to identify and prioritize the key areas that produce the greatest impact on your organization. This will enable a much more effective strategy regarding applying your resources on to sequential improvement projects.
The more involved we get with your operation, the more areas we will identify that need improvement. We will spot them faster than we will be able to improve them. We will prioritize them and knock them down in priority order: biggest impacts first. This work requires your ongoing participation as well as the ongoing involvement of the task-specific staff.
What tools or methods will we engage in?
We can improve any constraint on your process map by utilizing the Theory of Constraints, Lean Thinking, and Six Sigma toolboxes for process improvement. We pursue fixing those tasks which will be the best at increasing throughput, profitability, and return on investment as well as decreasing waste, variation, and executive hassles.
How often will we meet and what happens once we commence?
Initially, there will be two 3-hour sessions to teach valuable principles to the owner or general manager and senior staff. None of these principles are rocket science, but they are just not included in the development criteria for most professions, certainly not outside of manufacturing operations. However, the senior staff members need to know what’s going to be coming their way and need to be invited to participate as necessary.
The first session includes two hours of theory overview and an introduction to mapping your organization’s Concept-to-Collections processes. Without a map, there can be no agreement on what the process is across the company or where potential central constraints may exist.
The second session has three parts.
1) The first hour is devoted to trying to identify your organization’s central constraint, or at least develop a very short list of candidates.
2) The second hour focuses on a process improvement tool called “Cause-And-Effect Analysis” where we identify the underlying reasons “why” this central constraint exists as well as how to impact relaxing this constraint.
3) The third hour is devoted to introducing basic process improvement tools that will be used throughout the project in virtually every department as the project progresses. There are no heavy-duty statistics in the introductory methods.
You should expect to meet at least two times a month. These meetings are scheduled on the same day of the week, from either 9:30 am to 12:00 pm or 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm Mountain Standard Time, during the first and third full-Monday-through-Friday weeks of the month.
Organizations with intense improvement need may require meeting more frequently. We arrange this on a per case basis. Meeting more frequently also depends on how over-the-top busy a client is. If a client is in their busy season and just running like crazy to keep up, we will meet two times a month–no more and no less. If a client is just too busy to do and reap the benefits of this process, we will need to put our consulting engagement on hold until they can resume with the level of focus needed to yield these benefits.
Are there assignments between consulting visits?
Absolutely YES! (Mr. Ward, our founder, has spent time as a college professor – homework is an occupational hazard!) The rate at which your business will progress is directly proportional to the amount of time and effort you and/or your assigned staff put into the given assignments. If you do not progress in the central-constraint-driven homework assignments, then Mr. Ward will not come more than two times a month. If this condition continues, there will be no sustainable change, so the consulting arrangement may be delayed until you will be able to do the homework or the arrangement may be postponed.
How do you respond when a firm commences but does not continue as they commence?
We put them as an option at the front of the first in first-served waiting list so that when there is another slot, we inquire if they are prepared to reengage at that time… or not. If so their participation will be reconsidered at that time. This process only works for client companies that actually DO the improvement projects. The perfect plan without execution = ZERO.
How do you respond when more firms want your time than you have capacity to do?
We put them on a first-in first-served waiting list.
If I came to meet with you, am I going to be shuffled around from department to department or to different consultants or what?
Every client is given individual attention. We intentionally keep our client load at a manageable level in order to offer superior service and individual attention by Mr. Ward to your critical, central constraint needs.
Each meeting with Mr. Ward will focus on identifying and relieving central constraint pain in your operation. As the initial central constraints relax, new ones appear. There IS a distinct sequence of central constraints, that is custom per operation, to improving your… particular… operation. See Sluice Analogy.