One of our earliest customers ran a manufacturing equipment refurbishment company. He could restore very expensive tooling to original spec for half the price in a relatively short period of time. He called us in and asked us if we could automate his operation. After a week going through his operation we concluded the following
- The business was, and would be focused on a small, specialized, high ticket repeat clientele
- There was no dramatic increase in clients, just client business
- The operation itself was a very well thought out 7 step process.
- The customer relationship and operations staff was located in a open area with a large window overlooking the shop floor
- Across the floor, visible through that big window, was the Foreman’s office
- On the wall outside that office, each customers name was written in Black marker, with nails underneath to hold clipboards
- Each job in progress was tracked using a 7 color, 7 part form
- The CR staff could, at a glance see each customer job(s) and where, by color of the page on the clipboard, it was in the process
- Customer reps could instantly answer customers questions about delivery, delays, and issues
- The bookkeepers knew when to mail out AR invoices as well as determine monthly cash flow by counting colors
- The operation people could identify delays and process bottlenecks (too many of the same color showing)
At the end of that week, we told the CEO that we had completed the assessment. “Can I Automate?”We handed him an industrial bottle of Windex and told him that in no uncertain terms was he to introduce any additional automation to his process.
Technology is only as good at the business it improves.