During unprecedented times in which your company is facing monumental challenges and uncertainty, it is more imperative than ever to be proactive and follow best practices to ensure business continuity. But as pressure mounts and the stress of the current COVID-19 situation continues to grow, the best path to sustaining your company may not be as clear as you would hope. Some companies are left with no choice but to halt production, send employees home, and wait out the storm, while other companies are looking at ways to improve their processes, reduce costs, boost employee morale, and even create new business opportunities. While it’s easy right now to focus on the negatives, there are still a variety of actions you can take to help your company’s long-term success. Not sure where or how to start? See our 7 tips below for using the time and resources you have now to help sustain and stabilize your company:
- Examine Your Supply Chain. Many manufacturers are working to respond to business disruption and supply chain challenges from the global spread of COVID-19. Rethinking your supply chain and evaluating alternative logistics options or identifying new sources of, or alternatives to, raw materials, equipment, packaging, or more could be essential to helping you manage some of the challenges you’re currently facing. If time and resources permit, you could even look ahead to the future at how you can optimize or transform your supply chain even further. Research some of the emerging supply chain technologies and new models that will help equip your organization with the ability to deal with the unexpected.
- New Business Opportunities. The state of Georgia is looking for manufacturers to switch gears during this time and begin producing, distributing, and storing critical health care items needed to fight the spread of COVID-19. This is a great opportunity to keep your employees engaged and keep your operations up and running during this time. Examples of items included in the critical item list are gowns, face shields, ventilators, masks, PPE, hand sanitizer, and more. For a complete list of needed items, click here: https://www.georgia.org/newsroom/press-releases/gov-kemp-calls-georgia-businesses-aid-critical-health-care-needs. If you are able to produce any of the critical care items, complete this online form: : https://www.georgia.org/gamep-c19. Additionally, the government has multiple contracts available for manufacturers to bid on. If you are interested in working with the government during this time and need assistance navigating the process, connect to your GaMEP regional manager at https://gamep.org/regional-locations/ and we can introduce you to the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center program.
- Increase Communication. Currently, the chances of your employees feeling frustrated and uncertain are higher than they’ve ever been before. Increased two-way communication can play a vital role in improving your company’s culture and fostering a positive work environment (remote or not) even during difficult times. Help your people feel heard and acknowledged by communicating often and taking this opportunity to ask the questions you wouldn’t normally have the time to ask. You may come away with an idea for improving a process or identifying an issue you weren’t aware of before. Whether it’s by phone, video conferencing, or email, be an advocate for your team and let them know that what they say does provide value. GaMEP recently wrote a business guide, which includes the importance of communication, to help manufacturers get through this pandemic. Download the guide here. In addition, click here to find out more about the Managing for Daily Improvement (MDI) process that GaMEP has implemented in manufacturing plants across the state and learn how you can utilize MDI even in a virtual setting to keep the lines of communication open.
- Get Lean. Utilizing Lean tools and techniques can significantly impact your business for the better and help set the stage for long-term success. If you haven’t already become familiar with these process improvement methods, now is the time for you to start or continue your journey towards becoming a Lean manufacturing company. By using Lean principles, you’ll have the ability to better examine the processes within your operations to identify and eliminate non-value added activities to increase capacity and flexibility, as well as reduce costs. In addition to your processes, look at your utilities and see where you can reduce energy spending. Both of these are great opportunities to communicate with your employees, as they may be more privy to an element of your operations that could use a reassessment. Know that not all improvements have to involve spending. It may just require looking at a process from a different perspective – utilizing creativity over capital to achieve your goals.
- Study Your Financials. If you’re a small or medium operation that does not have the benefit of having your own procurement department, it may be a good time for those in leadership roles to examine the company’s financials and investigate any anomalies that may have occurred. Focus on individual categories of expenses and items that you don’t always get to spend much time reviewing. See something that doesn’t exactly add up? Take this time to investigate why and seek out an explanation if possible.
- Investigate Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency Products. Have you wanted to purchase new equipment for your plant, but hesitated because it would interrupt your operation? If your company has now halted or reduced production, now would be a good time for you to research the benefits of investing in new energy efficiency products. Discuss different options with your employees and determine what could help improve a product or process. Be sure to do your due diligence and take advantage of available tax credits and utilize appropriate tax forms to eliminate sales tax from qualified purchases. Here is a link that provides more information: https://www.georgia.org/competitive-advantages/incentives/tax-credits
- Tackle the “Business Wish List”. Many manufacturers have a list of items they’d like to eventually research or implement, but continue to put this list on the backburner because they either don’t have the time or assume taking on these projects would interrupt operations. If this sounds like a familiar situation, take advantage of the downtime you have now to revisit this list and see how many boxes you can check off with the help of your employees.
As we navigate this uncertain time together, GaMEP at Georgia Tech would like to remind you that we are committed to our mission, which is to help you, the manufacturers across Georgia. We have been helping manufacturers with many of these items during the COVID-19 pandemic, including supplier scouting, tightening up communications within a plant, developing a crisis recovery plan, and more.
We would like to be your resource for the latest information on the virus, and how this will impact your business. Please visit our resources page for the latest in helpful links, webinars, current information, and how you can connect with us so that we can assist you during this time at https://gamep.org/coronavirus/.
By Megan Johnson, with the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership