Small manufacturing enterprises are more than balance sheets to the CEO, who has usually built the business from the ground up, painfully learning every detail of a successful company as a hands-on leader and final decision-maker.
Often these companies are family-run, or if not, are small enough that the team who helped get you there feels close enough to be family. As the leader of this enterprise, you, the CEO, have learned to think farther out than the next pay period. Of these distant bends in the road, preparing for growth is one of the most important you must navigate. And at every step along the way, you must continue to demonstrate profitability and ROI on every decision you make.
Perhaps this growth comes in the form of being able to more efficiently add and service new customers, which in turn might mean growing your organization or geographic presence. If you want to enable your team to connect and work together well enough to achieve this growth while giving yourself the insight to make the best decisions, taking a hard look at your technology and processes is a large part of what enables:
- Lowering your operating costs
- Increasing your visibility into the business, driving better decisions
- Improving processes and realizing efficiency gains
- Providing the framework and foundation for future growth
Important Issues to Consider
No small manufacturing leader wants the distraction and expense of investing months of team time into solutions that take a long time to vet, even longer to implement, and don’t allow the flexibility you need to answer your unique business challenges. No two businesses run exactly alike, and if you find that you’re taxing your budget and reorganizing your entire business to fit a new tool, you might get the feeling that you’re on the wrong path.
Other important things to think about as you consider how technology will enable your growth:
- Was it developed specifically for small- to mid-sized manufacturers?
- Will it help you automate processes, freeing your team to do more accurate work and serve more customers in the future?
- Will it give you insight into every facet of the business — from back office to shop floor to the field?
- Will non-technical users be able to customize the software to fit their roles?
- Is it Cloud-based, or will you be looking at significant implementation time and cost?
With these thoughts in mind, you’ll be better equipped to assess where you are now, where you want to be, and how technology can help grow the enterprise into which you and your team have put your heart and souls.
Our team drew heavily on the expertise of SMB manufacturing leaders to create KeyedIn Manufacturing — SMB Edition; they have helped us create several complimentary resources to help small manufacturing CE0s — and their teams — position themselves for greater profits and faster growth. If you would like to take a look at any of our free resources, please click here. Best wishes to you and your manufacturing family!
Lori Payne is Vice President of Manufacturing Development at KeyedIn Solutions, Inc.