This article appeared in the June 2020 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
Managing a business can be a gut-wrenching exercise even in the best of times, and few manufacturers could call the start of 2020 the “best of times.” Passion alone won’t make a business successful. Sometimes all you can do is put a plan in place, hold a clear vision of where you want to go, and trust that your team can face the challenges ahead. Even then, failure can find you.
Understanding what key metrics to measure and how to act on that information can be an essential part of a manufacturer’s survival.
“Evaluating cash flow, working capital, and financials is more critical than ever,” said Mustansir Saifuddin, Director at Innovative Solution Partners, an analytics firm that helps manufacturers identify and address critical operational gaps. “In the face of COVID-19, your data is more important than ever. But data can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to feel frustrated by too much information. In times like these, you can be doing everything right and still fall behind. Manufacturing’s dependence on the supply chain can add complexity to business success; data insights can help.”
ISP works with clients to do an internal audit of their operations. This allows manufacturers to focus on generating revenue day-to-day, while ISP analyzes how you can thrive even when the industry is shaken by the need to use a remote workforce or operating on tighter-than-expected budgets.
“As the effects of COVID-19 continue, you need to decide how aligning your people, process and technology can support not only survival but potential growth during this uncertain time,” said Saifuddin. “Every manufacturer should cultivate information. You shouldn’t move forward without knowing why you’re doing it and what the potential pitfalls might be — especially during times of heightened anxiety.”
As your original projections fall to the wayside, new challenges keep popping up. The ISP team helps clients create targeted forecasts of specific areas of a business and locate viable solutions.
“Manufacturing doesn’t have an end; it’s a series of continuous improvements and continually reaching for new goals,” explained Saifuddin. “You and your team should question if you are ignoring data. If you are, then your business might be confusing success or innovation with plain luck. That will only get you so far. A logical, structured plan — and the flexibility to change if you have to — can take you farther.”
Decide for yourself if your business needs a fresh set of eyes. Start by asking:
- Am I maximizing my resources (i.e. finances, our staff, and production line)?
- Do I know where I can immediately reduce expenses and increase profit?
- Am I optimizing my cash flow?
- Do I know what decisions I can make to get the business to survive and grow?
- Am I too tied to my daily operations to look at our data with fresh eyes?
- With the shift to remote working, does everyone have the same access to timely and accurate information to make decisions?
- Do we have the internal resources to dedicate to analytics without compromising operations?
“We’re a small business, like most manufacturers, so we understand the complexities and the constraints you are facing,” said Saifuddin. “If you lack the time or resources to properly review your data, consider consulting with those who can. We can parse through the chaos of your information and let your team focus on bringing your business up to full strength."
Innovative Solution Partners is an MMA Premium Associate Member and has been an MMA member company since January 2019. Visit online: isolutionpartners.com.