Successful Bid Proposal to Product Manufacture
If you operate the type of organization that requires you to bid on work, you need to know how to compete the entire process successfully from bid to engineering to manufacture. This process is as much an art as a science, and cannot be taken lightly. Just winning the bid is not enough. The entire process must be completed in order to establish customer loyalty through the proof of competence, confidence and professionalism.
In many cases organizations tend to focus on the bidding phase in this process. Making the bid stand out from all the others is an important aspect of conducting a successful business transaction, but knowing how to manage the transition from winning the proposal to successfully producing the product is paramount.
There are three key areas to consider when approaching an entire process like this. These are the understanding your customer priorities, managing the conflict in customer requirements and operations capabilities, along with providing for a seamless transition across the organization’s functional silo.
Capture customer priorities
In any process, organizations must capture customer priorities in a way that assures continued focus. In many instances meeting customer priorities is defined as meeting customer needs and providing superior value. In many ways this can be as simple as developing an approach to defining customer needs or requirements and translating them into specific plans to produce products to meet those needs.
Direct discussion or interviews, surveys, focus groups, going over customer specifications, and reviewing observation are a variety of ways to learn an organization’s priorities. These sorts of exercises can uncover the real or ‘root’ needs of customers. This understanding of the customer needs can even be summarized in a product planning matrix. A matrix such as this can then be translated into higher level wants pointing at lower level product requirements or technical characteristics. In this way, the customer’s needs can effectively be satisfied.
Transition smoothly from proposal to engineering and production
Making balanced decisions while transitioning from proposal to engineering and production is a concept to be kept in the forefront of any organization’s mind. Using a methodology that will support and advance the decision-making process across the life of the project is ideal. Knowing the capabilities of your engineering function and your production function when applying this decision-making methodology will make the whole process better. Not to mention that having this in mind during the bidding process will make that step much easier.
The greatest significance of having some sort of methodology in mind, when making decisions is that it provides a structure to guide organizations through an entire process. Criteria must be identified and considered systematically in the whole process. This will also visibly show and identify any pitfalls you may experience in the project.
Align a manufacturing plan
Integrating the many functional viewpoints into an aligned manufacturing plan is key to any successful project. The need for the alignment of engineering and manufacturing with areas such as IT is absolutely necessary. As the landscape becomes more competitive, companies must be more responsive to change.
There are many different methodologies and models to use as a guide for alignment. As always, an organization must consider the culture of its workforce. Cross-functional teamwork must be reached in order to develop any successful manufacturing plan. The right methodology can be applied to accomplish this. Having a thorough understanding of all areas in an organization including business and IT functions can facilitate alignment.
These areas kept at the forefront when tackling any project is helpful. Creating proactive ways to manage the integration of bidding, engineering and operations of an entire process is important. This will promote customer satisfaction when your organization delivers successfully on a project. It also promotes departmental harmony, effective and efficient organizational operations, and an organization’s future growth.
When bidding complex manufacturing jobs whether a factory process or administration process, such as coding, it is important to keep a few things in mind to increase profit margins. Understanding the client, the job and the tools needed in bidding jobs can drastically improve the profitability of your organization.
Using the tools learned via operational excellence to confront the challenges inherent in any complex system can help overcome any adversity. Road mapping, value stream mapping and many other improvement concepts can make bidding each job one that is successful and profitable.
The key when planning and quoting is identifying the most common challenges and applying the proper tools. Some fact-finding about the nature of the issues being faced and uncovering root causes can lead to the empowerment to discuss and address these issues.
One of the challenges encountered in any complex process is often the use of a single process to accomplish it. The desire to simplify things often has unintended consequences. Complex processes often require multiple approaches. This is where organizational excellence concepts and tools come in handy. Road mapping the process and then brainstorming unique and varied solutions can be very beneficial when planning complex jobs.
Another pitfall people often fall into is assuming that the customer actually knows what to tell you so that you can properly quote and bid on a complex item. Customers notoriously say they want one thing, but require something different. The use of continuous improvement tools allows you to give them what they actually want. It also allows you to do it in a manner that actually meets their needs without it being over or under engineered on your side. These tools allow you the ability to hit on the exact amount of work needed to complete the job without bidding too much or too little. This only increases your profitability.
Finally, silo thinking in some organizations around doing bidding and quoting has many unintended consequences that show up later. This thinking is an attitude found in some organizations that occurs when several departments or groups do not want to share information or knowledge with other individuals. Silo thinking reduces efficiency and reduces accountability for the results of a project. Once again the tools of operational excellence can help this situation along. These tools promote the sharing of information in an attempt to let the group function as a team thereby reducing misaligned objectives and helping you bid successfully.
Recognizing these situations and applying operational excellence thinking can provide solutions and roadmaps to solving these three big challenges. It helps diagnose the root causes of the issues the organization faces. It often creates and facilitates dialogue to help develop successful solutions and shows the way to implement those solutions.
By doing so the bidding process for complex jobs is easily defined and can lead to success in the job and success in your organization. It ultimately comes down to the ability to do your analysis to determine the relative profitability and executability associated with the jobs you™re bidding. It allows you to do it properly and efficiently.
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Revealed â€“ The Unintended Consequences Of A Single Approach To Quoting Complex Manufacturing Products. Free Webinar on May 21, 2014. 12 Noon ET.
Profitability for Complex Manufacturing lies in producing products the customer wants at a price that consistently yields high profit margins; and knowing before you accept the order it will erode your profit margins.
This month’s MetaExpert Webinar series is all about QUOTE TO ORDER and how to evaluate your process for optimal profits. Join us and benefit from this 55-minute Free Webinar from one the worlds top Operational Excellence Thought Leaders and Keynote Speakers, Ron Crabtree or MetaOps.
This webinar REVEALS how to:
1. Identify if your Quote to order system is losing you money.
2. Uncover solutions to challenges in your quote to order process.
3. Measure return on investment. If you improved the quote to order process.
4. Simplify a complex award to order system and set specific action steps for improvement.
5. Determine if you are accepting the right business (not all sales are equal).
6. Navigate the political landscape in your organization to create a win for all.
What you will Receive:
- 30-minute Consultation with Ron Crabtree
- Custom Webinar
- Receive a recording of the event
- Receive a PDF Version of the presentation
- Gain access to the monthly MetaOps Magazine
Join us as we help complex manufacturers uncover roots causes for lost profits; and leave empowered to lead meaningful discussions around improving your quote to order process for optimal profits.
Date: May 21, 2014 WEDNESDAY
Time: 12 Noon ET | 11 AM CT | 10 AM MT | 9 AM PT
Duration: 55 Minutes
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The Operations function and the IT function of most organizations are like oil and water. Due to the traditional roles these areas play, they often run into difficulty when combined on an improvement project. It is critical that these functions work well together in order for you to achieve any success in your organization. Here are a couple of the common issues which organizations face when the Operations and the IT functions cooperate in an effort toward continuous improvement.
The first area of concern in your organization is the conflicting agendas and objectives of each function. In most cases business operations must move very quickly. They must change business models, product / service offers and delivery of value-added activities. Your operations people must continually improve customer care and profitability / cost controls. The Operations department is generally aligned to the COO of your organization. This group usually sees IT as a vendor as opposed to a partner. They view IT as a road-block to innovation and speedy changes to business processes.
On the other hand, IT is often charged with managing access to your data and systems and providing the security of your information. This is often a frustrating operation. For the most part, IT is generally aligned to the CFO in your organization. They often function in the role of monitor and reporter. Most often they must comply with traditional accounting approaches. IT usually sees Operations as another of your customers that they must please within your bigger objectives and plans.
In the end, this first area of concern can be narrowed down to a lack of common business objectives. In an improvement effort, operation departments in your organization are usually tightly focused on delivery of value to the customers and reaching the bottom-line KPIs such as cost and profitability. In contrast, your IT area tends to focus on SLAs, conformance to budgets and maintaining technical viability for all its customers, including those that are internal.
One way top management can get around this issue is by leading dialogs around creating shared objectives and shared accountability for specific business and IT outcomes. Each area has a part to play in any opportunity. Operations cannot develop KPIs about a certain process without IT developing an easy means of reporting this data. In many cases, combined analysis of this data can lead to further revisions of this process and increased success.
In order to truly improve, top management in your organization must come up with strategies to lead each area in the discovery of the factors that can prevent optimal interactions between the Operations and IT functions. Each area must be aware of the others role and pitfalls in this process and operate accordingly. The key is for both areas of expertise to act as partners in obtaining common goals.
Another issue that may confront your organization is the traditional miss-match of expectations and understanding of outcomes in both the Operations and IT areas. Many times, IT is faced with a continuing and universal problem: The demand for service always exceeds available resources by a factor of at least 2 to 1 in the short term. It is common that due to the amount of time it takes to develop and deploy a new IT solution designed to dove-tail with an operational need that particular need will have changed before the new system becomes available.
On the other hand, your Operations department too often takes an “over-the-wall” approach to working with your internal IT organizations. This is not unlike the methods used with vendors for materials and services used by the organization to deliver its goods and services.Â Your Operations department often expects the IT organization to “magically understand every nuance of its needs” and deliver services to support them. The challenge is that because IT is not truly a”vendor”, your IT is not organized in the same manner most of your vendors are with all the marketing, sales, planning, engineering, accounting, HR and other support functions. To be frank, this is a view you should not have.
The root cause is that this miss-matched manner of thinking results in very low or non-existent level of shared accountability in the outcomes your IT function provides to your operations function. You often have a lack of shared accountability from your IT and Operations functions for the overall outcomes. Due to Operations and IT often functioning as their own discrete entities, there is little or no incentive to work harder at the interoperability of your organization.
You may use Operational Excellence methods and techniques such as Lean Six Sigma, Value Stream Mapping, AGILE and world-class facilitation skills to build a bridge to increased co-operability between these functions. As an example, a unified vision of the “custody of data” supported by your IT area in conjunction with the value stream mapping provided by your operations area can be very successful. A top notch leader uses a simple model for creating the alignment in thinking, language and communication shared by operations and IT.
Recognizing and addressing the basic issues of differing agendas and the miss-matched expectations inherently faced by your Operations and IT functions can help these two vital functions to mix. Working to rectify these two issues fosters a sense of co-operability between them and is a great place to start your organization’s road to success.
Many companies struggle creating alignment of thinking, language and communications shared by Operations and IT. There are factors preventing optimal interactions between business operations and IT functions in your organization if you don’t see the results in your Operations and IT Organization efforts for improvement. Join us! – Register for a free webinar. Click Here.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
12 noon ET | 11am CT |
10am MT | 9am PT
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Beyond natural human resistance there are three huge barriers to improvement in our organizations. Recognizing these barriers and knowing some ways to overcome them makes operational improvement much simpler and effective.
Leadership turnover can be the first item that is detrimental to positive operational change. Leadership turnover can be seen as an opportunity to derail any program or project implementation. The next leader in line often has a different agenda from the old one. Secretly, most middle managers pray for a new boss and a new agenda before they have to actually change anything. Continuity during any leadership changeovers that occur during implementation of any process change is vital.
An ongoing 5S audit program is a great way to stay on top of this, regardless of leadership changes. 5S workplace organization is one of the first things that many do during a world-class operational improvement implementation. From a program such as this, a top-down mandate is achieved period-over-period no matter the leadership. It also provides a basis for appraisals and job descriptions that contain specific actionable requirements which provides for excellent continuity of leadership.
Another barrier to improvement is traditional accounting and the metrics involved. It is important to remember that what gets measured gets done. When people can see hard proof of the results of their efforts, they comply with the mandate. That’s the good news. The bad news is that traditional accounting is obsolete. Despite the amazing changes we’ve seen in areas such as manufacturing over just the past ten years, accounting is still being done fundamentally the same way as it was 150 years ago.
Organizations need to rethink some of their metrics and measurement systems to provide an accurate picture of the modern business strategies and systems employed in today’s pursuit of operational success. Exploring and learning lean accounting and value stream accounting are a great way to overcome this barrier. These programs show the important metrics and measurements it makes sense to see in an organization involved in improvement change.
Lastly, there is a huge lack of urgency for change in organizations. In many cases this is the crux of the problem. Change is often implemented piecemeal, hesitantly, or half-heartedly. Leadership often communicates the idea of change, but without the sense of urgency to get it done and get it done now. They must instill this sense of importance in the people of their organization.
Two things seem to cause enough urgency for change to happen quickly: threats and visionary, dynamic leaders. Threats from the outside in the form of competition and pressure from customers go a long way toward getting everyone’s attention and driving them to make change happen quickly. Survival in the marketplace can be huge motivation to a team.
Without this sort of immediate clear and present danger, the next best source for change is the visionary and dynamic leader with the horsepower and support to drive change throughout the entire organization. The development of leaders of this caliber is a monumental task in the future change and success of any organization. Providing the tools and skills needed to all leadership levels in different methodologies, team-building and other management techniques is a huge benefit. It is an investment that will payout handsomely in the future.
There are many barriers to the success of any organization when it comes to implementing change. It is hoped that some of these examples along with further training and further development of an organization’s people can smooth the way for the changes required for a world-class implementation and eventually a world-class operation.
MetaOps Inc. is currently conducting interviews for a new book. The purpose of the interviews is to uncover how CEOs / top leaders use process improvement methods as a tool to drive their strategic objectives. The interviewing process is about 25% completed with consultants as well as internal organizational consultants. These changes in process improvement are across organizations of all sizes.
The preliminary results identify one thing that seems true among all organizations. CEO’s and organizational leadership that brings in outside consultants tend to get better results than what is supplied by internal consultants. It is being revealed during these interviews that the skill set is not different between the outside consultant and internal consultant. What is being found is that the success is driven right back to the leadership and their engagement in the initiative. It seems the external consultants are more successful in getting the top leaders to engage more effectively in transformation efforts at a personal level than the internal consultants.
The interviews are also finding that nine times out of 10 organizations are putting their Centers of Excellence (CoE’s) and process improvement departments inside the organization several layers below the CEO and leadership teams. When structured in this manner, results are consistently less than stellar. It has nothing to do with the skill of the individuals in the organization. It has to do with their being insulated from the CEO and key leadership who drive the vision of the organization.
To the people of the organization burying this key component under many layers appears as insincerity on the top executives part. When a CoE or the process improvement team is buried within the organization and doesn’t have the commitment from the top leaders, employees know and their support goes out the window.
Outside consultants can be very helpful to the highly-skilled internal process improvement specialist. They can help bridge the gap between the top leaders and the internal team. This can be a cost effective way to maximize the resources in which the organization has already invested. In most cases, the knowledge provided by internal specialist combined with the skill of outside consultants can help immensely with a successful operational transformation.
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Here are 3 key factors for any leader desiring a change in their organization to remember These actions are critical in any transformation.
First, leaders must recognize that the power of a plan or vision comes from the people understanding and adopting it. But, contrary to what many believe just having that – compelling vision is clearly not enough alone. Where things fall short is often the result of a combination of factors, including the inability of the leaders to demonstrate their commitment to employees.
Over-delegating and falling victim to magic silver bullet cures fail to drive the proper communication throughout the organization. In addition, the necessity to convey the vision/strategy/plan to win both understanding and buy-in of all in the organization is paramount.
Second, employees will see through any in-sincere and / or lack of leadership commitment. It’s necessary for executives to truly commit to personal leadership of a change initiative. Without the top leaders showing the right level of personal commitment it is nearly impossible to expect the next level of leaders to do so. This idea cascades down from there building a culture in the organization.
Third, leaders must provide ways in which the employees (ie. The people who must adopt change) are allowed to experience insights at a personal level. Not only must the vision be understood and seen as important by the CEO, that person must also experience the vision on a personal basis. This will facilitate the adoption of new lines of thinking by all.
Upon reflection, the last point here is the secret sauce that we never learn about in management school and are missing in all the transformation models. In the cases of most the successes the top leader or CEO is the difference maker. By making the process personal in a genuine way, everyone in the organization understood.
It is very important to think critically about how the personal touch can be accomplished on the part of the top-most leaders. As with anything else in organizations, there is no silver bullet cure for success. However, the absence of these key inputs correlates highly with failure. At the end of the day organizations are made of people. Winning their hearts to fully embrace the vision of the organization and embrace change is decidedly a personal decision and builds a successful culture.
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Your organization consists of much more than just your employees and managers. Clients and customers, providers, contractors and others are also included in the role of “stakeholder.” When you’re ramping up for a transformation initiative, it’s important to gather the inputs from all stakeholders, not just those who are most obvious.
Tools to Succeed
There are a number of tools for gathering stakeholder inputs, and many organizations will employ more than one. The “suggestion box” approach, while quick and easy for employees to submit, takes far too much time for management to review and evaluate. Instead, consider using an online survey to solicit suggestions, comments and complaints from employees, and offer your customers or clients a way to provide input in a digital format as well.
When you’re looking for input, it’s important to remember a few key components to the most successful and useful systems. Remember to request actionable suggestions, and to use an open-ended question instead of a simple “yes / no” question format. You’ll also want to allow your stakeholders to submit their comments and ideas through an anonymous venue. That will alleviate any concerns as to speaking one’s true mind on difficult topics.
Ask the Right Questions
Put together a short list of the questions you feel would most immediately impact your organization’s policies, procedures and processes. Those questions will likely be specific to a certain type of stakeholder, with some questions designed specifically for managers, some for employees and some for clients or customers. Touch on topics like productivity, cost reduction, morale, diversity, product and service quality and employee turnover rates, and allow your stakeholders to address what you consider to be your most difficult situations and topics. You just might be surprised at what this type of input gathering reveals about your organization, its customer service and employee management style.
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Business Process Reengineering techniques are not just a fad. If you’re looking for empty corporate buzzwords, you’ve come to the wrong place, because implementing and reengineering business processes is an art and science, and creates real results. In fact, one of the best process systems out there uses the word “results” as an acronym as its base. R.E.S.U.L.T.S.
The R.E.S.U.L.T.S. model is a circle, not a straight line. You must think in terms of cycles in order to succeed with this process improvement strategy, and one of the best ways to get started is simply by reviewing what R.E.S.U.L.T.S. stands for.
The R is for Reflection and Vision, and requires management and team members who are able to identify and articulate what they envision their organization to become. If you don’t know where you’ve been, it’s very difficult to see where you’re going, and that’s why this first step in the R.E.S.U.L.T.S. process is so critical.
E is for Expectations and Alignment; in other words, how adept is your organization at identifying future goals and bringing all the players to agreement on the strategy? It’s up to management to identify the organization’s expectations and then align all teams and employees with those goals.
Selection of Opportunities is the focus of the S in R.E.S.U.L.T.S. Now that you know what your goals are and you’ve gotten everyone on board with the strategy, you can look for the gaps in your current plans. These gaps provide the opportunities for improvement, and while you won’t want to focus on all the gaps in the beginning, you can select the most important few to get you moving.
The U in R.E.S.U.L.T.S. is for Understand and Plan. Your plan is worthless unless your people understand it, and that means you need to be able to articulate your plan clearly and succinctly. Next, those who are tasked with carrying out the plan must also be empowered with enough authority to do so in a meaningful way. Ownership of an objective must be tied to the authority to achieve that objective.
L is for Leverage, Influence and Change. Who within your organization will be leading the charge for improvement in your business processes? Are these individuals able to positively influence others and do they have the power to leverage for change? It’s all well and good to have a plan in place, but if you don’t have specific leaders empowered to lead the adoption of the plan, you’ll likely experience only stagnation.
Transform Continually that’s the focus of the T in the R.E.S.U.L.T.S. model. It’s far too easy to become complacent when you see the first few positive results, but this is no time to rest on the early success. Instead, make sure that part of your process improvement strategy involves an ongoing monitoring system and continual change. There will always be a better, cheaper, faster and more efficient way to do things, especially as technology evolves. Your organization and employees must always be willing to look for those improvements.
The final S in the R.E.S.U.L.T.S. model represents Sustain and Reinvent. Much like the step just previous, this topic brings a focus to the necessity of continual improvement. Not only will you need to sustain the new processes and avoid reverting back to a more comfortable method, but you’ll also be looking for ways to improve upon even the improved processes.
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Call centers are very dependent on robust processes, carefully designed and standardized to create a smooth work flow and consistent result. What happens when those processes break down, or worse yet, were never designed to work smoothly in the first place?
Leadership in the call center operations is the first place you should look when your critical processes aren’t up to your expectations. Once you have identified the key roles and the organizational structure of your call center operations, you can begin looking at the relationships forged between front line staff and management.
How are the lines of communication in your call center? I’m not talking about communication between the organization and its customers’ at least, not yet. Here, you need to focus on the communication styles and skills within the organization. How are issues escalated to higher-ups? What is the turn-around time on management responses and input? Now it’s time to look at the micro-management situation within your organization. Do your call center employees have an adequate amount of authority to handle day-to-day issues and situations? If micro-management is a problem, it’s time to invest in training your managers how to delegate, evaluate and motivate employees, rather than constantly looking over their shoulders.
By mapping out the most usual and typical processes in your call center, you can more easily identify where the process is breaking down, where it is succeeding and where it could stand to be improved or modified in some way. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to monitor and analyze the results of your improvements; not all “first pass” fixes are the best solution for the given situation. There should always be a process in place to implement new and better processes as they are determined and identified.
If you have an interest in learning more on the methods to uncover opportunities within a Contact Center and Organization-Wide that quickly convert to GOLD, join me for my webinar Mining Your Contact Center for GOLD.
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