Due to the coronavirus, even the near future now seems unpredictable for many companies. Will we be soon be able to return to “normal” or will there be a second wave? No experts or scientists can currently answer these questions with guaranteed certainty. What is clear, however, is that companies nevertheless have real opportunities to prepare themselves for the coming months! In an interview with our Staufen Expert Andreas Müller, we discussed which possibilities your organization has along the entire value stream to implement targeted countermeasures and summarized them in nine helpful tips.
Mr. Müller, why does it make sense to focus on the topic of lean order fulfillment right now?
As an executive and expert, you now have time to “sharpen the blade.” Show your customers that you are a reliable and flexible partner! This will set you apart from your competitors. You now also have the opportunity to keep interest high while the competition is in doldrums, allowing you to emerge as the winner from the crisis.
What tips do you have for managers and experts as to how to act now?
1. Carry out a risk assessment.
Determine your critical processes in terms of quality, deadlines and costs, and analyze which resources could create bottlenecks, for example in employee planning. Are there any critical interfaces in the process? Then define and analyze how best to coordinate them. Include your customers and suppliers to gather all relevant information for lean and efficient order fulfillment.
2. Create transparency in your value stream and support processes for risk assessment.
Consider the three aspects “man, machine, material” – what is your status quo and what is your goal? Create the necessary transparency and clarity based on this triad. Also make yourself aware of how your information flows and how you can identify possible deviations and take countermeasures if necessary. You can now also start designing suitable solution scenarios for critical processes.
3. Verify your results with your colleagues, customers and suppliers.
Complex framework conditions require multi-layered consideration of the status quo. Align your perspective and goals with those of your customers, suppliers and colleagues to obtain a holistic view of the value stream. Ask where your suppliers and customers stand during the crisis and what problems and solutions they have. Build trust by broadening your horizon and sharing insights from your company.
4. Decide and prioritize sets of measures.
On the one hand, you are faced with the challenge of sales being at a low level, while on the other hand having to offer maximum flexibility with limited resources in order to be able to operate in an economic manner. Therefore, it is currently more important than ever to have a clear focus – the right priorities – in order to influence the right levers and gain momentum from them.
5. Be virtually present as an executive.
Establish clear rules of cooperation with your employees. It is important that you as a manager are available and can make decisions. Be aware of what information you need and in what form and communicate this to your employees and colleagues. You are more important than ever as the link between employees and the company, as new challenges and problems arise which you now have to solve using news methods in order to remain successful.
6. Make clear decisions that your employees can understand.
“Clarify the why” – the current situation is unfamiliar and your employees seek structure, stability and above all for answers to their open questions. The clearer you can answer “why” questions, the greater the probability that your team will stand behind you even in turbulent times. Make clear decisions that allow your team to participate in discussions and provide input.
7. Agree on clear communication channels and adopt emergency standards if necessary.
Define a communication cascade: How do I communicate when, with whom and in what form? What are the options for prioritizing issues and how long should the response times be?
8. Give your employees justified trust.
Leading from a distance requires trust in employees, since constant control is neither feasible nor efficient. The qualification and reliability of your employees is the basis for trust. Assess for yourself which competencies you give to which employees. Qualify employees yourself and create the framework to provide them with greater competence. Increase motivation among employees to act on their own. Nevertheless, you should always be available as a mentor to your employees.
9. Carry out process control of your critical processes.
Stabilize your critical process chain in the value stream by implementing short-cycle control loops. Gradually transfer responsibility for supplying process chains to your employees and allow them to gain experience and grow in this area.