In this blog, our Director Mike shares with us his observations on the current situation businesses find themselves in at the back end of 2021.
Over to Mike…
So, we’re coming out of the pandemic.
In my conversations with business owners, I am hearing several concerns from different types of businesses. I don’t know if any of these following thoughts (or others) resonate with you:
“We have got way too many spreadsheets needing manual updates and if I ask a question I am faced with multiple versions of the truth” (and indeed none of them may be ‘true’)
“I have a constrained supply chain causing havoc with my production planning”
“I don’t ‘know’ what I have in stock”
“Why are we taking 3 weeks for month end and 6 for year end?”
“Furlough has ended, as has the government support for wages; cashflow was always sanity but is in the front of the minds of more stakeholders than ever before.”
“I have found we are running OK with fewer people so the unpalatable truth may be that (in some cases) not everyone is returning”
“How can I control our need for cash, so how do we become more efficient and return more profit (and cash) into the business?”
The list could go on.
What does this mean?
This Darwinian situation is focussing our minds in a way that would not have happened a year and a half ago. Transform or vanish are two of the choices facing many.
Inefficiency was perhaps felt to be OK in times of plenty, your company is growing and money coming in – “so what if we have spreadsheets and folk have to update them, it was working, OK?” Not so anymore – or so I am finding.
Underpinning the work in the business, you may also be spending money supporting core systems that were implemented five or even ten years ago. Since then, your company has evolved – hence all the spreadsheets and workarounds. People cope, but this is not helpful to management. Not when it comes to making plans or strategic decisions.
The current environment has changed business landscapes so quickly, not that change wouldn’t have happened, but not in such a shortened timeframe.
So, what do you do?
OK, so you’re probably thinking I really should review how we work, get rid of the spreadsheets, workarounds, etc… You can even think of internal processes that are more efficient, or how you could give people what they need to work smarter, quicker, more accurately. But then you’re also thinking that you may need to change the underlying system processes to support how your people now need to work. This usually means either re-installing the main core system, if it is capable, or finding a new solution.
Of course, you also need to work out how you can work tomorrow, but ideally bearing in mind the capabilities of current systems (or new ones) and that is where choices start to need to be made.
If that wasn’t enough, you also need to keep the business running and moving forward whilst this is going on and that is stressful.
But that is where Gradient comes in.
We are a unique resource for you to call upon.
All our operational team come from industrial and commercial backgrounds, mainly in senior positions. This means that you don’t need to explain how a company works, or what a BoM is, or why Track and Trace is important. Some of our team here at Gradient have run production, done the planning and scheduling – let alone the implications held within.
We have people who have sat in the financial chair so understand the flows from operations to financials, the costing models, marginal analysis, bringing multiple legal entities into one consolidated group, etc.
We have managed Supply Chain, Inventory, Warehouse, developed pick, pack and despatch for e-fulfilment. The story goes on. The point is not that we know it all, (which nobody does), but that you don’t need to spend time explaining how your company works or why, but get on with what you do, your issues, aims and aspirations.
We will understand the rest quickly from efficient timetabled and short conversations with the appropriate people in your business. The aim is to work quickly (weeks rather than months) and not interfere with the smooth running of the business.
We have nearly 25 years of experience helping companies change and transform their processes, we have trained and had long practice in change management. This means we can then quickly hone in on the true opportunities for process improvement in order for you to realise a true business benefit.
Of course, once you do that, you then need to look at how your systems support the business, what are the gaps and can they be genuinely closed by upgrading/re-installing your current systems.
Perhaps because our business is over 24 years old, we do know all the major systems and most of the minor ones, along with all the main vendors and, again, most of the minor ones (a knowledge that we are proactive in updating week on week).
We don’t need to be able to install a particular solution to understand how to write a set of requirements against which a Vendor/Author can speak sensibly, this being whether triaging against your existing software or looking wider into the market.
The fact of the matter is that we are probably the best around at this, a focussed niche expert in helping clients become more cost-efficient, working with them, (not doing to them) and working with our client as a key member of their team to remove the spreadsheets, inefficiencies, workarounds and extract the information they currently didn’t even know they could get.
The aim is to create a forward-looking business that will no longer Struggle and Strive but Survive and Thrive in the new normal that is created from the result of amongst other events, the Pandemic and Brexit.
If you are in Production – Manufacturing and/or Distribution and the above makes sense, you should at least talk with us. Especially if you are in the precision or regulated markets such as Aerospace, Defence, Medical Device Manufacture, Food/Drink and Pharma, as we understand these areas especially well.
Enough of the pitch, we will follow this with further blog entries with genuine discussions in topic areas around the functionalities within a business.
Watch this space.
If you’re ready to talk about transforming your business, then why not get in touch? We’d be happy to help.