Many businesses tell me that they would take on more work if they could only be sure that their production teams would be able to handle the work. Have you been in this situation? I have worked with many businesses that have said the same thing. The remedy, in most cases, is to sort out the business processes and then watch how the business pulls together. There has always been a conflict between sales and production. This is natural and can be used to great effect when the business processes are synchronised. The most common point of synchronisation is what I refer to as the ‘contract review’. This is the point where new work enters the business and a handover between sales and production usually occurs. Businesses that don’t properly develop this process are often in chaos, fire fighting and struggling to keep customers happy.
How to make it work
There are two related processes that support the contract review, to make it really work. The first one is your production scheduling process. The rules and steps you follow to convert your sales order book into a ‘production’ order book can make a great deal of difference to how you manage your business. The other process is the creation of a capacity plan, which the sales team can use to help them sell the business’ capacity and manage expectations with your customers. These three processes go hand in hand with any business that is serious about winning more business (especially from already happy customers), who wish to grow and want to have fewer headaches in their day to day operational lives. I have seen clients, who follow this general approach, clear up their arrears, increase their profits, decrease their lead times and start to win more business in just a matter of weeks. Winning new business only makes sense when you have robust business processes to match. More sales entering a business that is in chaos is like extinguishing a fire with petrol – it gets significantly worse! If this article resonates with you then consider reviewing how you accept orders into your business. Also, how you schedule your production activities and how you share your capacity information with your sales team. Simple changes in these three areas can lead to a significant boost in performance for your business.
Ian is also the founder of Sales & Marketing consultancy Far North Ltd.