Manage Constraints to Realize ‘The Goal’

Sales are critical in our industry, as they are in every industry. Without them, we wouldn’t have a business at all. And in our competitive markets where success walks a razor’s edge, sales deserves—and demands—our attention. It’s why “Print Confessions” is consistently the most read blog on PIworld; I highly recommend it to everyone in our business.

All organizations suffer from a bottleneck or two. Management of such capacity situations can determine the success or failure of an entire organization. If you were to ask most people in the industry about their tightest bottlenecks, they’d probably point to their sales organizations. Without sufficient sales at the top of the funnel, you’ll never cover your fixed costs to see black at the bottom. As owners and managers, many of us invest a lot of effort on this issue.

By this time of year, the bottleneck tends to shift. In fourth quarter, pressure often moves from sales to production. From talking with many of my friendly competitors and suppliers, I can tell that print is stronger than it’s been in years, so the shift in pressure this year is more marked than usual.

And that’s a great thing! Backlogs have extended beyond recent benchmarks and managers are concerned about how they’re going to deliver against their order book. This is where the fun starts!

Of course, this dynamic brings about other challenges. For when backlogs are too robust, flexibility goes out the window and delivery dates can be jeopardized. When throughput approaches capacity, inventories build and cycle times increase. That’s when you hear people use the code sign “Charlie Foxtrot.” It’s feast or famine in this industry.

While recently away from the office, I read “The Goal”—the classic operations novel written by Eliyahu Goldratt. I’d been encouraged to read it for the past 20 years, but just hadn’t gotten around to it.

A third-generation printer, Dustin LeFebvre delivers his vision for Specialty Print Communications as EVP, Marketing through strategy, planning and new product development. With a rich background ranging from sales and marketing to operations, quality control and procurement, Dustin takes a wide-angle approach to SPC

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  • Patrick Palmer

    I am on my fifth reading of "The Goal" and how it applies to my 20 year old printing company. Each time I glean a new idea that makes sense in the moment and continues forward. Having just finished "It’s Not Luck" I am moved by the insight offered by Goldratt. All the sales in the world will not fix a system under pressure or out of balance, although it has motivated this printer to adopt, adapt, and move forward. Anyone in the printing industry is well served by reading this author, and, more importantly, the customer is better served.

  • Michael Nuccio

    Hello Dustin,

    I have not read this book yet, but I am intrigued and probably will after reading your article. If your looking to motivate your sales staff then I would suggest for Christmas you buy your whole team a set of stake knives and the movie Glenn Garry Glenn Ross.

    Coming from a printing family Dustin, you know in these modern times you have to innovate just to stay alive, unless your company has a (Specialty) niche in this in this industry. Printing has changed more in the last 10 years then it has in the last 200 years. Digital is taking over many industries not only ours and it is a way of life now for many printers. If the modern printer doesn’t adapt to this new technology now, then they will not survive in tomorrows market even if they have a killer sales force.

    Thanks for the book suggestion.