Lean at an Enterprise Wide Level

October 22, 2013

by Bill Caplan

The old saying that life doesn’t come with an instruction manual is equally true in business. Yet every day, business leaders the world over are tasked with figuring out how to outperform their rivals. Success in business may not be as simple as following a universal format, but even a cursory study of world-class organizations will uncover some common elements.   One of these is an ability to clearly express company value.  Another is continuous improvement, typically achieved through Lean manufacturing.

Several foundational elements in the continuous improvement process can be achieved through Enterprise Wide Lean (EWL) initiatives.  Unlike point-based Lean Manufacturing solutions, EWL engages the entire organization to focus on meeting customer needs. When successfully implemented, it produces a cultural shift in an enterprise’s mindset, encouraging stakeholders throughout the business to understand value creation, work to eliminate waste, and seek a common vision of continuous improvement.

In other words, companies on this type of Lean journey strike a balance between strategy, people, and processes.

The benefits of Lean can be significant when you connect the dots between activities—the application of the Lean tools—and actual business improvement.  Organizations that have successfully undergone EWL transformations report annual productivity increases of up to 30%, on time delivery approaching 100%, and inventory reductions of more than 75%, among others.

Lean is forward looking

Perhaps the most important part of getting started is coming to terms with the promise Lean holds when applied as an enterprise-wide undertaking.  The process is inherently forward-looking, even while it scrutinizes the current state of so many operational aspects.  For this reason, EWL requires not only the buy-in, but the active, engaged involvement of management at all levels of the company; the resulting shift is cultural as well as operational.

Indeed, EWL initiatives are at their most effective when they connect operations, marketing, finance, and even sustainability elements within a business.  This level of collaboration is an important step in identifying critical issues that may be inhibiting improvement, even among administrative and other, non-manufacturing activities.

In some cases, businesses new to Lean may fall into long-held assumptions about the best ways to increase efficiencies.  As an example, consider the all-too-common strategy of adding capacity through facility expansion. With the proper application of a top-down Lean initiative, it is often possible to achieve similar productivity gains within an existing plant.

Moreover, there are links between continuous improvement and top line growth.  If your business seeks to grow through increased efficiency but maintain its current footprint and employee count, a properly executed Lean effort can create capacity and/or improve profits.  Companies are positioned to fill the new found capacity and leverage the additional revenue to develop new products or open new markets.

“In a sense, you’re moving money from the bottom to the top line,” says CONNSTEP Business Growth Consultant Bill Caplan.  “Most people say continuous improvement is about efficiency; that’s true, but more important is what you do with that efficiency.”

At CONNSTEP, our mission is to help Connecticut manufacturers sustain themselves and build profitable growth.  We do that by becoming their business partners, and, in many cases, their mentors.

“We take on that responsibility free-of-charge,” says Bonnie Del Conte, CONNSTEP’s President and CEO. “We invest time in an organization through partnership. We’re here to help business leaders make the right decisions.”

Our desire to help is not just our mandate; it’s in our DNA. To learn more about CONNSTEP and our range of Lean and Continuous Improvement services call 800.266.6672 or click today.

CONNSTEP solved a huge problem for us and helped us bring our delivery rate to 100%. As a direct result of that, we have been awarded with an increase in business which, ultimately, will also benefit (our supplier) Har-Conn.”

CT manufacturer Pegaasus

Chris DePentima

CEO, Pegasus Manufacturing Inc.

“I see great value in the new experiences and perspectives CONNSTEP brings to our business, at reasonable prices. They’re not like consultants, they’re like partners in the business – willing to roll up their sleeves and help.”

AGRussell logo

Mark Burzynski

President, Arthur G Russell Co

“CONNSTEP has proved to be a tremendous resource for ESI. CONNSTEP has helped us to adapt to today’s marketplace and remain a quality minded, competitive global player. Our ISO/TS16949 implementation process was efficient and rewarding. I look forward to our future projects with CONNSTEP.”

esi CT manufacturer

Ron Delfini

President, Engineering Specialties Inc.

“CONNSTEP worked with FuelCell Energy to educate and facilitate Lean initiatives and to help meet our needs to establish an overall production improvement plan. This plan has been utilized over a period of time as a ‘guiding light’ to spur numerous improvements that dramatically reduced our product cost.”

Tom Lucas

Manager, Fuel Cell Energy

“CONNSTEP is a valuable partner to Hologic, providing the expertise and ‘outside eyes’ everyone needs to keep their continuous improvement on track. We are now well-positioned on a dynamic growth path and look forward to a long-term relationship with CONNSTEP.”

Greg Safarik

VP Manufacturing Operations, Hologic

“Our experience working with CONNSTEP has brought us benefits we never expected. It’s a great team to work with!”

Bruce Wheeler

VP of Operations, Metal Finishing Technologies Inc.

“The goals of the team were to reduce manufacturing lead-time, reduce floor space utilized, and increase worker productivity. All the goals were met. CONNSTEP helped us to better compete.”

Tornik CT manufacturer

Dan Rubbo

General Manager, Tornik LLC

“The Business Growth Program is working well for us. We enhanced our website following the meetings to improve our SEO and become more visible to search engines. The segment on negotiating …  promoted changes in our thinking and improved how we interact with customers. The mentoring between sessions was helpful in boosting our progress.”

CT manufacturer Colonial Spring

Bill Lathrop

President, Colonial Spring Co.

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