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.