As we enjoy the long days of summer and various holiday weekends, we stock up on cool beverages and fresh snacks to provide for celebratory gatherings and family get-togethers. How do we prepare for summer at the workplace?
Most businesses in the manufacturing sector are operating with a heightened degree of caution. Are we having a summer slow down or is this more of the slowly simmering economy? Will business ramp up in fall or remain languid?
Economists offer differing predictions daily: manufacturing is on the rebound, but unemployment is up. The stock market is up, or down, or mixed. It’s like farming in the Midwest: it’s either too hot or too cold, too dry or too humid.
It’s best to be prepared for any event. Farmers till the soil, plant the seeds, cultivate and harvest. The order does not change. Some events can be expected, like summer thunderstorms, and some success can be attributed to good timing (cut hay while the sun shines). Other events, like 100-year flooding, are rare enough to bet against, and yet, one year’s heavy snowpack melts and rivers overflow their levies.
For our manufacturing businesses, using the information in your manufacturing ERP software can help alleviate the anxiety of the unknown. If you have done your planning, forecasting, purchasing and labor allocation in the system, and if your sales team has done their work contacting new and existing customers, you have done all you could to prepare.
Many companies take advantage of the slow days of summer to invest in new product development, implement new systems and modules and upgrade machinery, hardware and tools.
It’s also useful to spend time reviewing your ERP system sales histories, backlogs and forecasting reports for patterns over previous years. Is the current year similar to previous years or have you entered new markets? What other factors are involved? Are your resources being utilized in the most efficient way? Where can you achieve greater improvements when it is time to ramp up?
When you have downtime, it’s also a good time to perform requisite maintenance, do deeper data analysis and reassess your system utilization. An investment in personnel training would give you a greater return now. Changes in procedures are best initiated when your staff has time to absorb the new information, test it and put it into use; not when everyone is overworked and overcommitted.
We all have to be prepared with the best information available. If you have confidence in the work you have done, have a cool drink and plan the best way you can for the future. The summer only lasts so long.