I’m going back 20 years for this one.  In 1999, sitting on the cusp of the millennium, we were all focused on the rollover of the year from the –99 to –00.  Would it cause the damage that many were predicting?  (It didn’t.)  Would planes “fall out of the sky?”  (They didn’t, but I remember distinctly that the major US airline presidents rode throughout the day and night to prove that the turn of midnight wouldn’t do anything horrible.) 

1999 was a great year for many in the tech sector.  Those who didn’t plan well, however, had a different experience.  Many of us saw the bubble coming; businesses put tons of cash into their IT budgets for 1999 to avoid any issues at the turning of the year.  This wouldn’t continue.  Tech businesses that ramped up for that volume but didn’t plan for the backside of that investment in the 2000 budget year struggled and many saw the “dot com” bust. 

Few attributed it to this, but the wholesale spending on the fancy things in tech drove their costs up and their profitability down.  As project work started to decline, many let go of people and things: some gradually, others in a more panicked sell off.  

My point in this walk down memory lane is not to scare you into 2020, but to remember that all of us did more pointed planning in 1999 for that coming year.  Twenty years later, what have we learned? 

Think about what will be different in the coming year for you.  This is the “threats and opportunities” part of your SWOT.  So many of us plan a strategy around doing what we’re good at and fixing what’s broken, perhaps missing the 10X.  What could you do completely differently to have a better year than the one we’re leaving?  What things did you “leave on the table” in 2019?  What does your competitive landscape look like and how will it change in the coming months? 

Create a plan for how to deal with it.  I’ve never been in favor of the 12 – 18 month strategic plan.  It doesn’t take into account things that change throughout the year and shifts in some items can cause havoc on the plan that you spent days and weeks creating.  It can even make it completely meaningless.  I prefer to chunk this into monthly and quarterly targets, creating the task-based items later so we are more flexible and resilient. 

Don’t forget the doing part of your plan.  Think of not just the ins but the outs as well.  Who’s thinking of production volume here?  Do you have the people to do the work?  The capacity on your shop floor?  Can you and will you deliver on time?  If I’ve taken anything remarkable in during this age of Amazon, people want their stuff on time.  Overnight if possible.  You can’t afford to deliver late or with errors.  People have come to expect that the promised delivery date is the promised delivery date. 

So what are you doing in your plan to account for sales volume?  Will your production team be able to deliver what your sales team is selling?  What can you do about it?  (Ask us about how a quick assessment can help identify areas that you may need to be focused on to make sure that you can meet the demand.)

Act on it. There’s far too much to learn here in how to track progress, so I’ll save that for the next session.  Have a wonderful new year. 

In 2020, we will continue to roll out meaningful tools for manufacturers that are affordable, on-target and competitive.  We will continue to expand 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 www.CIMx.com.