Written by: Paul Van Metre & David Vuyk

Focusing on the right stuff can become a challenge when you and your team are constantly inundated with new customer orders and changing customer requirements, all while trying to make progress on your most important company goals. Tidal waves of new information that pour into the business compound the problem further, especially when various team members need to spend time combing through that information to determine their next steps. The manufacturing environment is a busy place, to say the least. Things tend to move fast. So how do we use our time wisely to stay focused on the right stuff? 

As noted in our last blog, information transfer is a core component in being able to focus on the right stuff. Information can pour into the organization from several different points. Whether it's a phone conversation or email with a client, a purchasing terms and conditions document associated with a PO, or even a client quality manual that gets updated every few months. Sorting through these different pieces of documentation and client correspondence to get at critical information can soak up a ton of time! That inefficiency of time is compounded further when other team members are forced to go on the same wild goose chase in search of the same key information.   

Because things move so fast in a manufacturing environment, it becomes all too easy to rush the process and miss key details. I’m talking about the kind of details that come back to bite you when overlooked. It can be easy to fool yourself into believing that moving fast creates efficiency. Often moving too quickly only adds to the chaos. Fortunately, chaos and suffering often drive improvement and progress.  

If you’ve suffered the consequences of missing crucial details in the past, you’ll understand the importance of changing your process to stay on top of things. Even small changes can lead to remarkable results! The best way to solve this particular issue is to use Super Summaries. Stop subjecting the entire team to the frustrating process of combing through several databases to get the information they need. Instead, define what information is of particular importance to the job and have someone summarize that data as part of the planning process. Doing so saves time and leads to a better outcome. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Define which pieces of information are important:
Study the production process and determine which pieces of information are critical to job success. Categorize and document those requirements by each operation (planning, programming, production, QC, shipping, etc). Once you know which pieces of information are of utmost importance, you can create a template for your first super summery! 

Step 2: Delegate someone to find and summarize the data:
Systematize the process of creating super summaries as a standard part of the job planning process. Delegate who is going to be responsible to dig through all the information to extract the key data points that comprise the super summary. Likely a planner, project manager, or the person in charge of a given project. Doing so means that the data extraction process only needs to happen once, saving other team members from having to repeat that process several times over. Not only does this save time, but it increases the effectiveness of the team.   

Step 3: Make the super-summarized data available:
With the key data points extracted into the super summary, hold a planning meeting with the project team whereby key team members such as the planner, project manager, programmer, shop lead, and purchaser can review the requirements of the job together. Doing so will create alignment within the team but also bring to light any additional points of information that need to be added to the summary. With a robust summary of key information and a team that is aligned on the pertinent details, the job then can be executed on with a much higher probability of success.  

Establishing processes like this and using them to form consistent habits are the secret to enjoying lasting results. When you professionalize your business processes to keep both leadership and team members focused on the right stuff, you radically transform how work gets done. In the process, you decrease frustration and increase productivity. When the level of frustration is reduced, employee morale is increased. The results of a happy and productive team become obvious on the bottom line.  

How ProShop Can Help:
ProShop’s built-in capabilities allow for the effective and efficient summarization of critical non-standard job information. Task 020-030-012, built into ProShop’s QMS titled “Requirement Distillation Process (RDP),” guides the planner through the process of extracting the key pieces of information needed to achieve a successful result. These summarized project requirements can then be inserted at the various stages of the manufacturing process so that team members have easy access to only the necessary pieces of information as they need it. Does your shop struggle with focusing on the right stuff? Not sure how our ERP software can help? Get in touch with our sales team to learn more about how ProShop can increase the focus and effectiveness of your team!

Written by: Paul Van Metre & David Vuyk

The manufacturing process can consist of many unique steps, and with those many steps are the many team members involved in achieving a successful result. To achieve success consistently, you MUST have a robust system for how critical information is transferred from team to team throughout the process. Facilitating a smooth flow of information throughout the organization is foundational to long-term success in the industry. When confusion exists and teams aren’t clear on the details, mistakes are made, and time is wasted. When information needs to be repeatedly recited, re-entered, and provided in multiple places, time is wasted, and opportunities for error are created.     

At the heart of many business processes is the ability to facilitate data transfer to various team members. In the sales process alone, you have information flowing from a salesperson to the customer, then from the customer back to sales, then on from sales to estimating, at which point estimating may reach out to various vendors before a quote is sent and a corresponding PO is accepted. All of that information transfer, and we haven’t even started production planning yet!

At Pro CNC (our shop where we built ProShop), the team would schedule what was called a war-room planning meeting to kick off a new project. The details of the war room planning process are actually built right into ProShop because of its effectiveness. With the relevant planners, programmers, and project managers in the room, they could break down exact project requirements so that nothing got missed throughout the manufacturing process, and all of that information had a specific home in ProShop ERP. Eventually, the programmer and planner would need to relay information forward to the production team. Perhaps information would yet need to flow between different shifts before completing production and getting the QC team involved. Assuming QC goes well, then information would need to flow down to shipping and receiving and eventually accounting. 

But we’re still not done! Invoices for raw materials and services pertaining to our completed job will still need to get paid. We’ll need to maintain our records and documentation for regulatory compliance and auditors. Ultimately, the data may flow further to be used in our KPIs, metrics, and dashboards. 

Operating on assumptions has a VERY limited success rate. Consider your organization. Do your business processes facilitate the entry (only one time!) and flow of critical information? Is this information centrally stored, organized, and accessible without any duplication (like multiple systems or spreadsheets)? Is historical data being maintained such that it can be reviewed at a later date or shown to an auditor? Is there a mechanism whereby shop floor staff can make note of potential process improvements and feedback?  

When information transfer isn’t managed well, it results in waste. Project managers need to repeat themselves several times over. Too many planning meetings are required each week to keep the team aligned, and despite all of that, certain team members still remain confused about project requirements. When managed poorly, this results in increased scrap rates, low productivity, and poor on-time delivery numbers.  It turns into a chaotic mess.

A system for managing the flow of critical information throughout the production process can provide a host of benefits, such as: 

  1. Increased Efficiency: When information is centrally stored and accessible, less time is spent searching through email correspondence, written notes, or trying to recall what was said during a customer call. When team members have the information needed to execute on the job, they spend less time asking questions about what to do next. The team spends less time in planning meetings going over the details. All of that freed-up time can get redirected to value-added tasks.     
  1. Increased Quality of Outcome: Your goal is to fulfill ALL of the requirements of the project. Beyond manufacturing components to specification, you need to get them out the door on time and in compliance with customer requirements. When sales are able to effectively communicate project requirements to everyone downstream, everyone benefits. 
  1. Increased Customer Satisfaction: Nobody enjoys driving away from a fast-food window only to find out that they got your order wrong. Similarly, when we miss the mark as manufacturers, we damage the customer relationship. When information pertaining to specific customer requirements is properly recorded and stored, we are better able to consistently meet those requirements and increase customer satisfaction.
  1. Enhanced Data Security: When you have a process for managing the flow of information throughout your organization, you also have the opportunity to build in provisions for data security. Whether you work in highly regulated industries, need to demonstrate CMMC compliance, or simply want to protect intellectual property, a robust system that controls how you access, read, write, and store critical information can enhance your data security posture. 
  1. Effectively Manage Change: Be it organization-wide changes or simply changing customer requirements for a specific job, having a system for information transfer can help manage those changes. As new information pours into one part of the organization, that new information can then be disseminated to the relevant parties. When managed in a digital system, it can take place in a way that is both effective and time-efficient. When changes need to be applied to a job that is mid-process, getting this new information to the production floor quickly is paramount so that everyone is on the same page and customer expectations are met.

How Can ProShop Help?
ProShop effectively manages the data migration process. It was designed on the principle that you should only have to input a critical piece of information once. ProShop’s workflow lends itself to carrying pertinent information from sales throughout the production process to shipping, making that information available to those who need it in a seamless way. Because the software was designed and refined in a regulated contract manufacturing company, places and systems for this data stream were built and optimized, which are entirely absent from most ERP systems. A client who came from a different “Job” ERP system told us that they used to need to enter in the part number 18 times from quote to shipping - something that is only done one time in ProShop!

Team members can input suggestions for process improvement along the way so that repeat jobs are continuously improved upon. Specific customer requirements can be input and applied to all customer work orders so that those requirements are consistently met. ProShop clients have enjoyed increased throughput, decreased scrap rates, and increased on-time delivery metrics as a result of having this system for information transfer in place. If you don’t currently have a system in place, and are worried about the amount of effort required during the ERP data migration process, rest assured knowing that our team of experts are here to support you at every step of the implementation process! 

ProShop SAFE allows for customizable access to company files so that information is handled in compliance to the CMMC standard. Building enhanced data security provisions into ProShop allows you manage the flow of information across the organization while meeting regulatory requirements.

If you have any questions, get in touch! We’d love to discuss how ProShop can help you manage the flow of critical information across your organization!    

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