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Operations & Administration

Effective business strategic planning is a key factor to success in business. Do you have a 5 year strategic plan? Is this reviewed annually? Are the majority of your staff aware of the company strategy and do they align their job to it? Are Job Descriptions up to date and align with company strategy? Are these part of employees annual feedback?
If you do not have these critical features in place, HMC can work with your company to brainstorm your company objectives, strategy and plans for the future, identify your priorities, assess the impact of changes on employees and business systems, review (or help you create) your Vision, Mission, and Quality statements, complete a SWOT Review, quantify objectives and put them in place for your Strategic Plan. Typically, a SWOT should be completed looking at a minimum of 2 years out, (but it is preferable to look 5 years out and review it annually to ensure nothing has changed).
HMC can help you with all of this very vital analysis today.

Once your company’s strategy is established and you have completed a SWOT, the next step is to ensure that you are maximizing resources effectively based upon your company size, structure, employee skills, abilities and company culture. In other words, is your company set up to best utilize its internal resources to serve your customers in the best possible way, both today and in the future? The competence of all staff (including management and workers), their motivation to succeed, the organizational structure, and company culture are all important factors and must be considered. Poor strategy execution will always come back to the fact that there was a poor allocation of resources. Further, you must ensure you focus upon minimizing any gaps by implementing a sound training plan that focuses upon the training that will have the most impact to your organization.
HMC can help you ensure that your organization is optimized in the best possible way, both now and for the future, to attain success.

Capital shortages, economic conditions, declining revenues, and low margins can have devastating effects on small companies and if your company is a downward spiral and you are scared for its future, it is time to act NOW! Some hard decisions may be necessary to ensure your company’s future survival.
HMC will assist you by helping you identify and assess your current strategies and assist you with making immediate adjustments as required.

Do you have a Business Plan? Ever completed one, or if you had one, did you ever update it? Or do you have a new product, or a potential new product or new market? A Business Plan can help you focus on what’s important and help you make the critical decisions for your business. Sustainable growth, over the long term is imperative to the continued success of your business. A well developed Business Plan will contribute directly to that growth for long term future success if it has investigated all possible angles including business climate, skills, operations and the environment around the company.
HMC can help you develop a Business Plan to help you achieve sustainable growth and future success.

Establishing targets help you to know that your business is on track. If you don’t measure, how do you know if you are improving, or conversely, how are you supposed to react proactively if you are not aware of what is really going on in your business? They will help you to standardize processes, detect problems and develop solutions when you need to act. Typically most businesses establish metrics for areas such as Quality, Delivery, Deadlines, Safety, Client Satisfaction, and Employee Satisfaction and these should be a bare minimum.

It also goes without saying that in order to establish some good metrics your company should also be able to utilize data from its operations and as such be generated, stored and secured in such a way to be able to access it.
Further, do you have a Management Team in place? And are they meeting monthly to review the Metrics as well as other Business Matters? Communication is a key factor to keep everyone on track.

If you need assistance in establishing Metrics or need to establish some better ones, HMC can help you with this. If you are not generating the proper data, HMC can help with this. And if you need help with organizing the initial management meetings to ensure they are effective (and not overly time consuming), HMC can help you. These are critical paths that your company should be doing and ensure the long term success of your business.

Where or not you have a Quality certification, there should be some basic Policies in place for all the functional areas of your business (such as Incoming, Warehousing, Shipping, Purchasing, Quality, etc.). This gives all of your company employees a starting map for what the expectations are for that area of the business. Procedures can be more specific as they explain HOW TO DO the particular function. While established employees typically will know their job, it is quite typical that other employees (including you), do not. If that employee were to exit your business does a quick replacement know what to do? Establishing these and some controls which can include Inspection Sheets, Work Instructions etc. can really help to standardize a company and ensure you have no gaps in serving your customers. This is particularly important for a company that is growing.
HMC can work with you and your staff and establish effective Policies, Procedures and Controls.

At any stage of your business (whether you are struggling, breaking even or doing extremely well) a focus on Cost Reduction should be a focal point. Getting rid of non-essential costs (whenever feasible) is a good thing to do.  I say ‘non-essential’ as cutting costs across the board to save a bit short term is NOT the way you should be doing things. There are times when costs are a bit higher than you would like, but are important as some cost cutting could negatively affect you long term.

HMC can help you with putting a plan in place to tackle inefficiencies in your structure, processes, with some suppliers, and duplicated functions to help increase your bottom line

Manufacturing & Assembly

Poor Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders represent almost half of the lost time claims in Ontario. Preventing such injuries in the workplace by training key people (such as H&S committee members, managers, supervisors) to recognize and assess potential hazards is a smart thing to do for all manufacturing companies, both for the wellness of the employees and from a cost standpoint.
HMC can help identify some potential issues for your workers and work with you to ensure some specialized training is arranged for one or more key employees.

Are you forward thinking? Are you using a structured approach to innovation to remain relevant in today’s marketplace? Are you keeping up with the current technologies, machinery, training, harnessing internal ideas from staff to make things better, faster and for less money? Do you know of any new competitors and what they will offer the marketplace? Are you aligned with outside networks to ensure you are keeping up with the knowledge of your industry?

If you answered no to any of these, HMC can help you put together a formal Innovation Strategy that you can implement and use on an ongoing basis for your business.

Lean Manufacturing

This really is one of our favourite Lean principles and the first one I would ever recommend to a client to implement. It is such a great concept to help organize a company in its current orientation (meaning, no moving of machinery or anything like that). It is a fantastic team building driver by getting people to work together on a team and tackle the project together. It is a methodology for organizing, cleaning, developing, and sustaining a productive work environment. When implementation is organized properly, it will instill routines to maintain organization, encourage workers to improve their working conditions and help them to learn to reduce waste, unplanned downtime, and in-process inventory, all things that are essential to running a smooth and efficient flow of activities.

Depending upon the size of your organization, HMC can help you organize this by implementing it incrementally over your work floor. Again, a great team builder and one where hard work literally shows to everyone that enters your facility.

Once 5S has been established, HMC would be pleased to work with you to improve and optimize product flow throughout your organization. Again, this is a team based effort to ensure buy-in from staff and management to remove waste and implement a continuous improvement philosophy.

HMC will work directly with your staff to fully understand the movement of product and their roles in doing so. Further, we will help to implement team developed improvements and foster in your staff an ongoing desire to continue.

Quality

Today’s manufacturing environment is extremely competitive and identifying problems and implementing solutions as quickly as possible benefits small manufacturers.  A high cost of quality WILL affect your bottom line.  HMC can help you to establish effective quality control systems across your organization from Receiving, to Manufacturing and right through to Shipping.  Also, have you (at least annually) completed a Quality Management Report?  This can help you identify underperforming areas which can be a real starting point to see and understand deficiencies and help to move you forward proactively.  HMC can help you implement a Quality Management Report that you can use to improve these areas and which you can use on an ongoing basis annually.

Standardized documentation throughout a company is an often overlooked area.  Its importance cannot be underestimated as it is used as a basis for communication both in written or visual formats and will help to ensure product quality.  It is important that valuable knowledge is not lost between management, quality, engineering and the various personnel that may perform the tasks on the floor (and particularly so when an employee leaves your company or when a worker may be performing tasks that they are not normally doing).

HMC can help you by creating and implementing:

  • Standard Operating Procedures
  • Work Instructions
  • Process Sheets
  • Inspection Sheets
  • Supplier Non-Conformances
  • Quality Alerts
  • Bill of Materials
  • Test Methods
  • Engineering Changes
  • Quality Management Reports

Whether or not your company has a quality certification you will benefit by raising the bar to excellence and this will have a profound effect on staff; communication is always a great thing!

Supply Chain

This is typically a much overlooked area for small companies and one that can have such a positive impact to your manufacturing effectiveness and bottom line costs. Establishing good supplier relationships and strategic sourcing are key factors in supporting long term business survival. Collaborating closely with 2-4 key suppliers can have a monumental shift in service, quality and price which will benefit your business, and bottom line.

HMC can work with your staff to establish some key suppliers and set you on the right path on developing these relationships in the future that will help you.

Significant savings can be achieved by examining your current Logistics costs and where you are currently doing well and where costs are out of control.  Do you ship products to Canada only, to the US, or to both? Do you use various companies for this? Do you have anything automated? There are many strategies that can be examined but it all comes back to delving into your current transportation methods and determining if they are, or are not, effective.

HMC can help you with this and put together a plan that will help your bottom line.

Plant Management

What condition is your facility in? Is it up to date with Health & Safety, Fire Safety, Maintenance, Cleanliness, and Security? Do you pay attention to the outside (including Landscaping, Building, obvious Maintenance requirements) and the inside appearance? How is the lobby and / or Reception area? Again, what is the impression you want for any new business plus your existing customers?

HMC can critique your facility and put together a plan for you to make the necessary changes.

Customer Service

Customer Service should definitely rate high on any company’s list; how do you rate it? Are complaints increasing or decreasing, or are you not sure? Are complaints handled effectively and efficiently? And what do you do to support what you believe the level should be? Also, do you (at least annually) request feedback from your clients regarding their experiences with your company? If you have not done so recently, you should.

HMC can evaluate your current Customer Service program including designing a Customer Service Survey that will help you to implement some measurable improvements.

Do you sit down at least annually and do some market research possibly looking at identifying:

  • some other potential target markets
  • customer wants and needs (and have these changed or stayed the same?)
  • current market share and if this has increased or decreased?
  • who are your competitors and what are they doing? Any new ones?
  • is your company positioned well against your competitors

HMC can complete some market research for you to ensure that are continuing to be in a good position in the marketplace and help you re-position yourself if necessary.

Although it may seem daunting to think about, it is important to plan for the future of your business, particularly if you are privately owned. This decision will affect not only you, but your customers, employees, and your family. It is important to think about a succession plan which could include passing it to family members, selling it to management or selling to a third party. You can be risking the future of your business without a plan. You have to ask yourself all kinds of questions depending upon which way you think the business should go.

For example (if you think it should stay in the family):

  • Is there the talent and desire to run the company and lead it into the future?
  • The skill set and experience of my child does not match mine. How will they be able to run the company like I did?
  • Am I really able to hand it over to them and walk away?
  • What will be my role within the company? Retire? Transition to an area of the business that I like doing?

You must develop the roadmap for succession as it should not be an event, but a strategized process. HMC can help you sort out your options and strategize a plan for the company’s future.

Health & Safety

Health & Safety is such an integral part of Manufacturing. It is important for the sake of your employees and for the future of your company. Do you, management and all workers take it seriously? Do you have a committee in place and do regular inspections? Are you compliant in your training?

HMC will advise you where you need improvements to your system and can help you put in a proper inspection process that your staff can undertake. Also, to ensure that you are in compliance, HMC will assist you with getting the appropriate training in place with accredited trainers.

Human Resources

HMC has created an Employee Manual Template which can be amended to tailor a specific business and its needs based upon structure, market and size. HMC will continue to remain up to date on any changing laws to ensure the workplace is covered sufficiently.

HMC can help you get this very important document created and can assist you in the future as changes are needed.

Many companies find themselves spiraling out of control with appropriate wages based upon the skill, market, seniority, if it is a new hire, an existing employee due for an increase or moving into a new role etc.

HMC can help small companies with minor issues in these areas and for further expertise would encourage you to utilize an effective HR service and can help arrange this. It is essential on so many levels (including maintaining or creating effective morale, skills remaining in the company etc.) that wages are appropriate.

Do you have effective recruiting methods? Are you hiring the right people for the right jobs? Do you have a history of what you would call “good hires?” Global pressures have transformed Canada’s manufacturing sector and as a result, manufacturers have had to transform how they do things or not survive. There is a constant need to innovate, improve technologies and be productive to try and stay competitive. This is resulting in utilizing more skilled workers and implementing new technologies. Are you at this stage and are struggling to find and retain this needed talent?

HMC can help you create strategies and processes that will enable you to recruit and retain the best employees.

Going to all the trouble finding the right employee and then not doing a proper introduction into your company is not a great way to start your relationship. Employees ideally should be paired with an experienced employee who can show them the job plus expose them to the culture of the company to fully integrate. New employees should also learn how their job affects all the supporting positions. Starting this relationship in the right manner could take a bit more time, but the long term benefits are worth it.

HMC can help you to set up an effective orientation process to ensure the best possible success.

Your staff will play one of the biggest roles in the success of your business. Therefore it is in your best interests to have a strong ‘people’ strategy and focus upon labour and people issues. Going to great lengths to improve your recruiting process will be for naught if you cannot retain those employees. Companies will see certain professions in tight demand and finding someone else may not be an easy task.

HMC can help you implement a viable strategy to attract, engage, reward and retain key talent so your company can continue to move forward, keeping your staff and attracting great people.

It is wise to perform Appraisals regularly to ensure your employees are assessed based upon their performance for their specified duties and against the company objectives.  While most companies complete this process annually, some are moving to lesser periods of time between, such as every six months.  Performance Appraisals can have several positive objectives: coaching an employee to improve, guiding career development, facilitating two-way communication, and establishing employee goals and objectives that are in-line with company objectives. Conversely, if done incorrectly, they can foster ill feelings towards the organization due to subjective evaluations or negative perceptions. It is a fine line to set this process up within any organization and take into account organizational objectives and current company culture.

HMC can help you to find this line and implement a positive system that will be able to assist your company with moving forward.

Project Management

Small manufacturers and distributors at times require small events planned (Christmas parties, Golf Tournaments, Training sessions, Sales Meetings, Dealer Meetings etc.).  Many times, internal personnel are tasked with these events and they may lack the focus, time, or skill level to effectively create an effective event.  At this level of business there are typically tight budgets.  HMC has planned all of the above and understands operating under a tight budget, accomplishing targets, imposing alcohol limits and ensuring the companies responsibility under the Liquor Liability (which includes ensuring employees and guests are safety transported after the event).  In the case of a much larger event required, HMC would assist the company in securing a suitable event planner.

The owner of HMC was a Project Leader for a company move from a facility of 20,000 square feet to 70,000 square feet.  This project included designing the plant (including all warehousing), designing manufacturing and office layouts (following Lean Principles), making Capital Purchases, maximizing all acceptable existing furniture and equipment, and overseeing all installations (including electrical, machinery and security).  This project, while quite complex, was completed on-time and on-budget with no customer interruptions.

If you are considering such a move, HMC can help you with picking a suitable location and put a plan in place for you and your team to ensure the smoothest transition possible.

Sales & Marketing

Does your website effectively reflect who you are and what you do? Have you updated it in the last year so information is not stale, out of date? Did you create a website a long time ago, just because it was something that you were told to do so there is presence in the marketplace? While that is a great thing, it may be time to look at it critically as you must remember, this is a how a new customer will view you, and is it an accurate portrayal? Also, do you have effective marketing materials and are you using them effectively? If you attend the same tradeshows year after year, do you have anything new to offer that will make you stand out?

This could definitely be an ongoing activity added to your Monthly Management Meeting, however to start with do you know what to look for? A critique of the above by HMC along with your team can set you up to be able to move forward with this on your own in the future.

Whether you have one person or a group of people that are responsible for the sales functions in your company are you organized in the best possible manner to maximize their time and efforts to achieve your company objectives?  Do you even have one person who is responsible with gaining some new customers, whether or not it is a full-time responsibility?  If not, you should.  Do you effectively communicate the sales objectives and targets with these individuals?  Do you have annual sales meetings (at a minimum) where sales strategies and sales forecasting are evaluated and discussed?

HMC can help you get this function organized to maximize your company efforts and utilize your staff in the best possible manner.

Financial

To manage and grow your business effectively, you need to ensure good practices are in place and part of that means having good financial reporting practices.

Budgeting & Cost Controls – Annual planning should be a minimum for all small companies. It is important to put a great deal of thought into this process and including as many people as necessary to get insights in what might be needing replacement, future needs, etc, is thought out and planned for. It is my experience that managers complete these without a whole lot of thought or feedback from their staff. A small company having to buy a new piece of equipment that was not planned can seriously hurt the bottom line. HMC can work with you to properly implement a system, roll it out to staff (who in turn will include their staff) and put together a budget for first review and approval process.

Maintenance

Facility and Equipment Maintenance are two very important areas for any company to track, and particularly so for a small company where high repair or replace costs could be catastrophic since they are not planned financially.  Also catastrophic is when a key piece of machinery suddenly breaks down and you are not able to satisfy your customers orders.

Do you have a Work Order system in place at your company to track maintenance that either has already occurred as a result of an unplanned issue or is a planned shutdown and fix and / or replace?  No matter the size of your facility, it is imperative that you put one in place to help track instances and plan maintenance.  It is important to instill good principles and practices and continue to coach effectively to ensure the efforts don’t falter over time.

Do you track repair parts that you have on-hand?  Are they easily accessible, needed, and still viable? Are there some other parts that you should stock and don’t typically?

HMC can help you to set up a system that will pay dividends to you over the long term by helping to keep your facility and equipment in top shape and keeping your production running.

Do you have a PM plan in place at your company?  It is proven fact that PM will save money, effectively reduce downtime, extend your assets lifespan, improve product quality, improve energy efficiencies and create safer work environments.  If that is so, WHY does everyone not put this system in place?

The four main categories (and strategies) of a PM Program are:

Run To Failure (RTF) – fix when the machine breaks down

Time-Based Scheduled Maintenance (TBS) - once per month, quarter, year etc.

Usage-Based Scheduled Maintenance (UBS) – number of hours, cycles, hits etc.

Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) – When ‘x’ reaches a certain point, change the oil, filter, belts etc.

 

Your facility will utilize all (or most) of these depending upon many factors such as the machine manufacturer recommendations, hours of use, history of breakdowns etc.

Want to make the right maintenance decisions in your organization?  Relying on a staff member who may know your organization “like the back of their hand” is not a sound way to run the maintenance in your organization; what will you do if they are incapacitated or retire?  A PM plan will help you to prioritize your efforts, and use complete and accurate data to do so.  Putting in the effort to establish a PM plan will benefit you in the long run.  Not doing so is costly and could be downright dangerous.  HMC can help you establish an effective PM plan to keep your equipment in top shape.

Engineering

Having an efficient department (or person) that effectively handles all internal and external technical and engineering inquiries and needs can be a great strategic advantage for a company as it will directly affect customer confidence.  Are your internal technical, production, and supply chain personnel aligned?  There needs to be a direct relationship between these three to effectively handle concerns at the source during production.  Does your technical staff share information freely across product lines?  Are they trained how to deal with a customer complaint?  Is the technical competence for the staff at an acceptable level?  There are so many things that can be done in this area that will ultimately boost customer satisfaction and HMC can help you with identifying any shortfalls and help to implement improvements to the processes.

Warranty

Warranty management implemented properly can be a great strategic advantage for a company as it can increase customer confidence, and reduce operational costs.  Managing the system can often be overwhelming since there are claims to process, parts returns to coordinate, evaluation of the returns and possible payouts required. Whether you have one claim a year or thousands, how you deal with it will directly impact your customers opinion of your company.

HMC can help you to set up a warranty program to efficiently handle these functions and to put in measures where proper communication is established internally (or to suppliers) to avoid this type of failure in the future.

“You must have long-range goals to keep you from being frustrated by short-range failures.”

– Charles C. Noble