In my 27 year tenure as a Boston Bruins fan, I never had the opportunity to witness a championship season until thirty four days ago. With the mass media the team garnered in the several weeks surrounding the playoff run, radio stations, bystanders, bar patrons, etc. talked about the integral pieces that went into making this team so special. Many will say the real change started back in 2005-2006, when they had a full enterprise system reboot. In manufacturing, we see these leaps occur when a company decides to enter into a new planning structure, or ERP (enterprise resource planning) software.
In 2006, Bruins’ ownership decided it was time to put in a new system that would ultimately grow their team and allow them to compete on a high level year in and year out. There were several key components that went into this plan: Starting with a new system, they decided upon a new general manager that would ultimately connect all the different departments together, from player personnel, through management, to external relations would be needed. These changes did not come easily and in manufacturing it is no different. There will be resistance to change from some and criticism from others when they do not see immediate success.
First, you must to be willing to make an investment. The Bruins were, historically, a team that was looked at as a club who did not invest back into themselves. They were stuck in a rut with their current system. Making it by season after season and, if they were lucky, would muster an above-average run, only to be disappointed in the end. Whether you have excess funds or not, manufacturing companies must look at the whole picture: if you’re not willing to invest back into your company, the chances are that it will not grow and continue to remain stagnant. If you’re a job shop, you may have that odd quarter where the stars align and a company owned by your cousin’s brother-in-law needs a big shipment and you happen to be at the right place at the right time. As in hockey, this rarely leads to continued success, i.e. look at the many teams who win the Cup only to miss the playoffs entirely the next season or companies you hear in the news with big surges, only to go bankrupt the following quarter. This can also happen if you choose a short-run product, or a solution that will give you immediate gratification but can end up hurting you in the long run.
Second, you need to gather and analyze information within your organization. This may include a very useful plan of looking into your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, otherwise known as a S.W.O.T. analysis. For the Bruins it may have taken months or possibly years to analyze this information to determine the direction they wanted to head in. When they finally gathered enough research to make a decision, the next step was to get everyone on their team to believe in the system. This starts from upper management all the way down to the labor force. In a previous blog, we’ve outlined our top five reasons why ERP implementations fail. Similar to the Bruins or any other team/organization out there, if you don’t have a fully supportive staff, life can be a very stressful battle moving forward. For the Bruins, this meant selecting new personnel who believed in this ideal future. They soon appointed former player and fan favorite, who bled black and gold for years, as their new VP of personnel and someone who could relate to the players. Then, they made a series of blue-collar moves and signings they believed would fit into their system. While making new hires, or replacements, might not be necessary, it is necessary to bring current management and labor-types in on the critical thinking process as they will be the foundation of this movement.
Lastly, now that you’ve decided on a system and have the full support of your staff and team, put it in place and let it run. Along the way, there will be tweaks and different pieces to unplug and plug into, but if the system is ultimately right for you and your company, it will continue to work itself out; Case in point, the 2010-2011 Boston Bruins. There will always be bottlenecks, or injuries, to face, but if you have a solid structure you can plan around these issues with minimal damage. If you don’t have a solid ERP system in place, there’s a good chance a single major issue could swamp you with setbacks causing a loss in business, a loss in your quarter, or, for the Bruins, a preemptive end to your season.
We’ve spoken with and seen many companies who are content with where they are. They don’t lose money, but aren’t necessarily growing in revenue, either. Those who have done their due diligence, taken that leap and invested their time AND money into the right places, and continue to do so, while ensuring a supportive underlying structure, have shown remarkable success moving forward. It took time for the Bruins to get to this point as it did for the Red Sox, Patriots, and Celtics and will for your manufacturing company. But after 86 years, 30 years, 22 years, and 21 years, or however long you have been stalemated, wouldn’t the change and investment be worth it?Posted by Jason Rourke, Marketing Manager, ProfitKey International