Working with Manufacturing Consulting Services, Inc. FAQ
Is my organization a “good fit” for consulting?
Oftentimes businesses begin to falter when the few people “in charge” can no longer be in all the places they need to be in order for the company to function efficiently. Common, though not exhaustive, drivers for this include:
– Their company has grown to more than 15 people (including the heads of subcontracting organizations as relevant).
– Larger to much larger companies have merged.
– Companies have more than one location.
– Companies have more than one shift.
– Companies are considering adding another location or shift.
All of these are good candidates for our services. However, our very best clients are those whose leadership are at their wits end. They have been working very hard–doing everything that their professional and educational experience has said that they should do, but to little avail. They are not either stupid or unmotivated… quite the contrary! However, they are at a turning point – where they are willing to make whatever rearrangements are needed to breathe life back into their company. They are open to change, teachable, motivated and eager to experience the transformation doing this work promises.
Does it matter if I run a manufacturing firm a service firm or a government entity?
No, it does not. These principles and methods apply to all of these types of organizations.
Does manufacturing consulting services Inc. engage with service-based businesses?
Yes, frequently. But just a bit differently than manufacturers. There are many similarities between service-based businesses and manufacturers, but there are a few things that are unique to service-based businesses that we recognize and work with.
1) In manufacturing-based businesses, there are three kinds of pain: materials that cost too much and labor that costs too much or things that waste either of those resources. These are the first 2 kinds of pain and they are visible because they show up on the existing accounting reports.
The third kind of pain in manufacturing that is very common is not nearly as visible: it is that the problem-solving functions from “Why did you go into this market” all the way through product or service definition, product specification, brand building, vendor selection, physical production layouts, tooling, staffing specifications & training materials development, information systems conception and setup, post product/service & process design improvement feedback loops, etc. all the way to launch do not flow.
Everyone expects their physical production to “flow” and when it doesn’t, surprise surprise, they blame physical production! No one (who has not done these methods) expects their problem-solving functions to create systems to enable physical production to flow and then, when physical production does not flow, even suspect those who didn’t produce the system for physical production to flow!… They always blame the last person in the process: usually inspection or quality assurance or final assembly or the payroll clerk for not being able to “Get-er- dun” – not the person or the department that failed to create an adequate system to enable and provision flow in the first place. These kinds of pain do not show directly on the standard accounting system. Which is why so many organizations never even look here: it is not ON their radar.
However, in service, there are no “physical materials” expenses or tooling or training or failures or inadequate supply or corrupt low-quality supply issues that show up on the accounting books. Okay fine, at least there are fewer.
Service providers do have to deal with inadequate tooling in the form of computers or software or communication/connectivity systems or with, for example marketing materials or other process design failures. Or sometimes just poor fit or function, for these systems or materials.
Service providers have visible pain in things such as tasks that require too many hours or tasks that require too high of a skill set for repetitive tasks. These things, of course, show up on the existing accounting reports and so are visible to company decision-makers.
And, usually, when there is a misdelivery, just like the physical producers they blame the last person in line… without EVER looking at what sorts of systems everyone along the way “to serve the client” has to deal with or make up on the fly for every single client. These things of course do not show up on the accounting reports and so are invisible to people, especially decision-makers, in most companies.
Regarding too high of a skill set for repetitive tasks: the absence of defined, standard processes mean you cannot either hire or train semiskilled people to do a quality job of the repetitive tasks in a reasonable amount of time and expense. You can’t even distinguish what is a repetitive task that is semiskilled worker could do and what is a more complex task that requires a skilled worker.
And then there are training issues for that manpower as well. You can either do the traditional “on-the-job, by ‘experience'” where, if they quit your organization loses the training time and expense for that associate. Or you can quickly and efficiently train via the “Standard Work” you create doing a robust process design.
Whereas service businesses have fewer places than manufacturers where things can go wrong, most notably in the physical components of the processes, manufacturers typically have less customer interaction throughout the process… where things can change with very little notice! This leads us to the next difference between manufacturers and service businesses that we commonly see.
2) In manufacturing, by far most of the steps in delivering value are invisible to the final consumers of that value and so can be managed by people who are skilled at their craft but do not have to interact with, or possibly have their tasks changed by, the final customer. Service processes on the other hand have to be sufficiently robust to withstand client preferences and customer satisfaction demands altering or redirecting the process, sometimes right in the middle of it. Manufacturers don’t have to deal with these “frequent changes right in the middle of things” because the final customer typically is not right in the middle of the production process like they are in “service” firm’s operations.
3) The next difference is that customer education in manufacturing is done by specialists in the Marketing and Sales Departments. In service this is done by everyone who is in contact with the customer which is usually a much, much higher proportion of the service firm’s staff than of the manufacturing firm’s staff.
We use materially different mapping and process analysis methods with service firms than we do with manufacturing firms because of these and other differences.
Some quick examples of service operations that we have helped include a county out-patient nursing services operation, a street sweeping firm, a barter-trade exchange and a website development company… not a single “widget” any where in sight! In addition, Mr. Ward has students who have turned around restaurants, a catering service, a law firm print department, a package receiving and shipping storefront, and many more. “Process is process is process.” (The dirty little secret of this business is that the first two thirds of what both manufacturers and service businesses do is the same… shhhhhhh… don’t tell anyone!)
Do you ever work with sole entrepreneurs?
Yes, occasionally. Nevertheless, please see above what constitutes a good client.
Does the size of the organization matter?
No, again with the caveat of executive and key staff accessibility. These methods have been applied in organizations of all sizes worldwide from startup sole entrepreneurs to multinational corporations.
Which of my managers and staff should be involved in the consulting engagement?
This work is best carried out initially with key decision makers within the organization, usually the company owner or general manager. Due to the depth of this work, Mr. Ward also works with most or all of the senior staff at one time or another during these projects, some more heavily than others depending on where that organization’s central constraints occur.
In addition, the staff we work with will periodically change throughout the implementation of sequential projects as the current central constraint relaxes and moves to somewhere else in the organization. This is not just “operations” consulting, it can touch any aspect of the organization – literally anywhere between concept and collections – wherever the constraint is presently.