Yesterday, we talked about a few questions that you might ask while you’re gone from the office or struggling through the current crisis.  These questions actually work during any downturn (in time, money or economic situation).  We considered what your current role was in your business around product, cashflow, people and messaging.  This really follows the 4 key pillars of business in strategy, culture, cash and execution. 

During a time like this, you need a tool to connect you to your team.  Whether that is to keep the conversation going or to start one up, it helps to have a tool.

Being in software, I’ve always been one to choose something that someone built for the express purpose of the job at hand.  I’ve never been one to build something myself.  Nothing that you build will ever do things as well as someone who’s thought through all the scenarios and connected things for you. 

So what tools are out there right now for you that you need or should have?

Let’s start with the basics.  Don’t forget about the good old pen and paper route.  There is something unique that happens when you write something.  Physically write it.  Whether I write in a straight line or bullet-list it, I find I remember it better because I had the experience of both thinking it and writing it. 

What other tools do I have?  Microsoft Office is a great tool, but we all have that.  Let’s focus on things you might not have. 

How do you apportion your time?  Do you have a scheduler of some kind?  For your own work, something as simple as a planner (I prefer the bullet list method of tracking time), but what about for your business?  Have you thought about how the schedule you keep might adjust at this time or once you go back into full production?  Perhaps there’s something that you want to or need to focus on at the start. 

How do you communicate?  If you’re relying on email and working remote, you may find that it is not the best way to do so.  Inboxes and folders fill fast with information that you need now but that you do not necessarily need to keep.  Especially the chatter of everyday work.  That can help productivity right now but you don’t need to keep those trails of messages and messages about messages for long.  Look to any number of tools out there to set up a chat train with your team.  We prefer Slack right now for that but there are a million tools out there that do this.

How to you plan your work?  This is where you probably want to get out of the chat mode.  This is a little more serious and should actually help you align your resources with the work to be done.  For our development team, we use online tools that apportion the work, size it appropriately and push it out to the right people.  We use other tools that put the code that we’re working on into the right place, with the ability to check in and out work.  We use still other tools to align our business strategies with connection with the outside world.  Again, there are a million of these tools out there.  Pick the one that works for you and your team. 

If you haven’t rolled these tools out by now, you may also want a plan for how to introduce them.  I would suggest starting with the communication tool first.  Setting up on a platform like that is instant, fairly inexpensive or even free (depending on the size of your team) and can provide immediate help. 

Are you a manufacturer wondering how you can keep up-to-date with your team?  Think about how you can engage with your team while they (or you) are not on-site in order to move your business forward, event while you are not all there.  Ask them what they would do to make the workplace more effective when you return.  Ask all kinds of questions to get them thinking and share best practices.  Now is the time to get your foundation laid. 

Tomorrow, we will build on it further. 

In 2020, we are rolling out meaningful tools for manufacturers that are affordable, on-target and competitive.  We are also expanding our educational offerings.      

We believe in the critical importance of manufacturing right here in North America and we work hard to keep you working.  Ask us questions; you will find that we are far more reachable than other software providers you may partner with.  We are here to help you find the right tools and use them, whether it's a Google doc, an Excel sheet or a Production Control system.  To learn more about meeting your targets for 2020 or just getting a question answered, visit us at