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The importance of having a manufacturing strategic plan

Picture this, you enter a room full of well over a thousand people. You are there to speak to them about __________. You walk up to the microphone and realize you have no plan, no notes, no slides, nothing to work from, and a very small working knowledge of the subject. What do you do? Do you wing it and hope for the best? Do you apologize? What? Now imagine your whole career, livelihood and even your home are dependant on how well you do. Would that make you nervous?

Manufacturing without a strategic plan is much like walking into that room of thousands in order to speak and having nothing to say. This is your business, your livelihood, don't go at it haphazardly, or on the fly, go into it with a sure fire plan. A strategic plan plays a huge role in shaping the success of industrial firms. Without a plan, it will not matter how good you work is. It is like reading a book that has great prose but no organized plot. No matter how good each line is alone, if it is not all together it is of little use.

Manufacturing strategy and strategic planning are critical to an industry's success. Although research in this area has increased in the last decade, the focus of much of that work has been on the content rather than the process of the manufacturing strategy.

If you look at most manufacturing industries today you will see that the planning process is found to be a bottom-up approach from a corporate or business perspective, which differs from the top-down planning process that has proven to be so successful in other industries.

A good manufacturing strategic plan combines some "rational" elements (formality, comprehensiveness, control focus, longer horizon) with others that lend adaptability (wider participation and more intense interaction). If you can have this type of strategic planning, your manufacturing business is sure to be a much greater success. There will be less waste and higher profits.

Why it is important to have a manufacturing strategic plan:

1. Even the smallest amount of waste per item or time adds up incredibly fast when you take into account the sheer numbers and volume of what is being manufactured. For example, whether it is the manufacturing of one million wingnuts a day or twenty vehicles, waste means money. Let's say you make one million wingnuts a day. On each wingnut, due to no strategic plan, you or your employees spend 3 seconds more than they should or need to spend on it. 3 seconds does not seem like much, but 3 million seconds times 7 days a week times 52 weeks a year, times the number of years you are or plan to be in business can be thousands and millions of dollars being wasted. The numbers do not have to be this large for the principle to stay the same. Any wasted time or material is wasted money. A strategic plan can help to eliminate waste, streamline efficiency, and thus mean larger bottom lines.

2. While waste is a big issue, quality is even bigger. If you have a strategic plan it is like setting up a checks and balances system. Nothing moves forward until it is complete, which means, the job is done. You do not have waste, but you also do not have dissatisfied customers because things are done poorly or incorrect.

3. A plan gives people a goal and something to work toward. Working just to work is not common. However, working toward something, and having an end game is motivation. While for many their motivation is a weekly, biweekly, etc. paycheck, showing that person how they fit in your overall plan, and how if they don't fit, they don't get paid becomes motivation inspired by a strategic plan.
There are tons of reasons why having a manufacturing strategic plan is critical to your business. Bottom line, without one you waste time, energy, and money; three things no one wants to waste.

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