If you are managing company-wide manufacturing operations, you will be conscious of the ever-present need to make your operations as customer-driven as possible. But what does customer-driven actually look like? A good starting point is ensuring that you and your entire team have a very clear and consistent view of what success looks like.

In this article we take a look at some of the key elements that you should be considering for the implementation of an effectively managed manufacturing process.

Meet the expectations of your customers

Whether your customer interactions are across your sales channels or your service channels, you need to have a very clear understanding of what the expectations of your customers are. While there will be variation between industries and between different types of customers, in today’s world some of the consistent elements are that your customers will be expecting real-time responsiveness and they will be expecting you to deliver quality. In the context of a manufacturing process, consistently meeting those expectations from your customers can be a real challenge as you grow your business and try and scale your operations.

Pilot your growth initiatives

If you have an opportunity to grow your operations and increase your capacity, ensure that you test and pilot your ability to continue to meet the expectations of your customers while you continue to grow. One of the most effective ways to do this is to select one of your weakest performing products. If you can demonstrate that you can continue to deliver production of one of your weakest products and meet customer expectations while increasing your production capacity, then those same principles should be able to be applied across the stronger products within your range.

Focus on transparent and measurable KPIs

In order to effectively manage a manufacturing process, you need to be clear how you are measuring success. Ensure that the KPIs against which you are measuring the performance of the business are transparent and clearly understood by all aspects of your business. Automate data collection where possible to ensure that your KPIs are being updated in real-time.

Empower cross-functional teams

Manufacturing processes never happen in isolation, so it is important to bring together the stakeholders of your end-to-end process to monitor performance and to explore opportunities for innovation and efficiency. Performance improvement is not possible when the different stages of your manufacturing process are working in isolation. You need collaboration and communication, and a team of empowered people working together to improve outcomes for your customers.

Use the technology

There are some fantastic software tools available to help your business enhance the performance of your manufacturing operations. For example, the Microsoft Dynamics ERP software, Dynamics AX, enables your business to respond in an agile way to changes in customer requirements. Benefits of tools such as this is that you can use the purpose-built solutions and then tailor them to your specific requirements. It also has a really to use interface that will reduce your training time and increase your opportunities for cross-team collaboration.