Mike Figliuolo’s picture

By: Mike Figliuolo

A consistent and regularly scheduled prioritization process helps eliminate distractions and can focus your efforts on the most meaningful projects. Some processes are formal, while others are simply frequent conversations about priorities. Choose a process that’s appropriate for the size of your organization.

I’ve worked for two very different organizations. One was large, and one was a small business unit. In the large one, we had a very formal prioritization process. All departments were involved, and you had to have a rigorous business case to get your idea on the list. In the small business unit, it was an informal process. We achieved prioritization by allocating budget to different budget owners. We then gave them discretion to choose their own priorities.

In the large organization it was rigorous, but sometimes we lacked agility. The process kept us focused, but at the cost of innovating every once in a while. In the small organization the process enabled a lot of distractions to happen. People pursued some pet projects. Pet projects and distractions should not be worked on if they haven’t been prioritized. They had a huge impact.

Michael Mallen’s picture

By: Michael Mallen

The concept of cost of quality (COQ) has been around for decades, but applying it to business is difficult. The adage “quality is free” (coined by Philip B. Cosby in his book by the same title) does not simply mean that you don’t have to pay for it. It means that you are likely already paying to deliver “quality” to your customers.

What cost of quality isn’t

Quality used to be synonymous with “expensive” because higher-quality products typically cost more. Makes sense, right? For something to be “quality,” you must pay for premium materials, premium workmanship, and premium service. You can’t compare a Rolls Royce to a Ford Escort and not see the disparity in quality.

However, these days consumers expect value instead of quality. The difference between the two can be defined as the following:
Quality: The usefulness or worth of something
Value: The usefulness or worth of something relative to its price

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

One of the technologies driving Industry 4.0 is artificial intelligence (AI), and AI is enabling massive change in manufacturing. It is also revolutionizing the smart manufacturing supply chain as well.

It seems that for every benefit technology provides, it also spawns an associated challenge. For instance:
AI benefit: AI enables manufacturers to provide customization in a much more compressed time frame than ever before. So much so that consumers are beginning to see customization—including instant delivery—as a standard service.
Associated challenge: Forecasting for supply, demand, and price is the supply chain’s bread and butter. And all stakeholders—suppliers, manufacturers, and fulfillment partners—now face an exponential challenge in providing customer satisfaction.

Jason Tham, CEO of Nulogy, believes that AI can leverage real-time operational data to unlock greater visibility and collaboration for supply chain ecosystems. Tham maintains this is the difference between old-school forecasting and what he calls “true agility.”

Liz Uram’s picture

By: Liz Uram

When Mary started with the company, she was enthusiastic, energetic, and consistently the top salesperson on the team. She got along well with her co-workers and was known for her superior customer service skills. But over time, something changed.

Mary began to arrive to work late, leave early, and take long lunches. The brief interactions with her co-workers usually turned into complaint sessions. She ignored phone calls and didn’t respond to emails. Customers were frustrated. Mary spent more time on her cell phone than doing the work she was getting paid for.

John, Mary’s manager, was at his wit’s end. He wanted Mary to get back to the level of work he knew she was capable of. He went from one extreme to the other trying to motivate her. First, he tried money. Then, he tried disciplinary action. Both resulted in short-term improvements, but they didn’t last.

Does this situation sound familiar? If so, don’t give up too soon. There are six other ways to motivate employees that have longer lasting results than money or disciplinary action. The challenge is in determining what motivates employees.

Corey Brown’s picture

By: Corey Brown

Understanding the distinction between document management and knowledge management is vital to operational excellence. While the terms can sometimes be used interchangeably, understanding their differences couldn’t be more relevant to the shifting industrial workforce.

What is document management?

Document management systems provide essential records and archives for explicit company information. In other words, these systems are information and data management tools that track and store a wide variety of documents. Like digital file cabinets, the content of these file systems is broad and contain current and archived versions.

Document management—information and data management tools that track and store a wide variety of explicit company information

Annette Franz’s picture

By: Annette Franz

The terms “customer-centric” and “customer-centricity” get thrown around a lot; oftentimes, it’s quite clear that they’re being used out of turn. I believe “customer-centric” is often confused with “customer focus,” but the two are very different.

Let’s look at some definitions.

Customer focus means that a brand focuses on the customer. All brands will say they focus on the customer. They listen to the customer (surveys, surveys, surveys), but they don’t really take the time to understand their customers. There’s no real differentiation of who customers are. Everyone is treated equally: as a customer. These brands approach customers tactically and reactively. It’s short-term and transactional: What does she want? How can we be nice to her? What can we do to get her to buy from us or to come back again? Customer focus happens at the front line, person to person, face to face. Customer focus is self-serving in that it is used to achieve business goals, not customer goals.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

In an article published by Quality Digest, Julias DeSilva addresses recent declines in ISO certification and poses the question, “Does quality matter anymore?” His conclusion is that even if you don’t get certified, you will still gain from a well-implemented management system. But what do manufacturing companies think?

Many certifications are never seen by consumers. Compliance with standards like UL, ENERGY STAR, and USDA Organic are routinely displayed on consumer products, but ISO/IEC 17025, ISO 45001, and NSF/ANSI 173 standards... not so much. These might be considered B2B standards.

So, what’s the ROI for the considerable investment of time and money to certify to these standards? Let’s look at what it means for one of the world’s leading nutritional product manufacturers in the world.

Mike Figliuolo’s picture

By: Mike Figliuolo

In the first article of this series, we discussed the specific and measurable aspects of SMART goals. Here in part 2, we’re talking about the last three characteristics: achievable, relevant, and time bound.


Another characteristic of a good goal is that it is achievable. If a goal is too extreme, people won’t even try. You may have heard of the term “big, hairy, audacious goals.” That sounds great: Let’s set a huge goal for the team, and they’ll try really hard to achieve it. The thing is, those types of goals can be very demotivating. The team looks at it and they say, “We don’t even have a chance. We’re guaranteed to fail. So you know what? Forget it. I’m not even going to try.”

And if a goal is too easy, people won’t care about it or see it as meaningful. “Oh, 1-percent improvement? No problem, I can do that in my sleep.” And then what happens? They don’t focus on it, and they fail to have any impact. You must balance how achievable a goal is. It can’t be too easy, and it can’t be too hard. People need to feel like they can be successful, which includes the notion of them having the skills or being able to build the skills required to achieve that goal.

Bryan Christiansen’s picture

By: Bryan Christiansen

If somebody asked you for a list of your company’s assets, would you be able to provide it? What about the exact location, condition, and utilization of each asset?

Organizations with a large number of physical assets can answer those questions only if they have the right asset inventory management system and process in place. Setting that up plays an important role in lowering your asset management cost and improving overall business productivity.

To be able to do that, you first must understand what asset inventory management entails, and which tools you can use to streamline and optimize this process.

The difference between asset management and inventory management

Asset inventory management is, in a sense, a love child of asset management and inventory management. So, to understand asset inventory management, we first must explain the overarching concepts.

Here are necessary definitions to help us frame the discussion.

What is an asset?
Assets are resources that a company uses to run its business, to produce items or deliver a service. Most commonly, the word “asset” is used to refer to physical assets like machinery, vehicles, fixtures, computer equipment, furniture, and the like.

Nate Burke’s picture

By: Nate Burke

During the past year, we have seen more businesses make the digital switch and take services online than ever before. For many, an ecommerce offering was a means for survival during an incredibly volatile and unpredictable time. For others, an online focus has been slowly developing for some time now as the digital revolution becomes increasingly undeniable.

One of the many reasons for the shift is online retail’s ability to offer businesses a number of opportunities, particularly with the way they can get their products in front of customers. For instance, a business can have its own ecommerce channel, use an omnichannel approach, or sell its products via marketplaces.

It is the latter that are dominating the digital sphere at present. In fact, in 2019, $1.97 trillion was spent on the top 100 marketplaces, globally. Included on this list are the likes of Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba—all household names, no matter where you are in the world. But there are also many smaller ones that can be just as effective at generating revenue for your business.

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