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Management Expectations

– Balance at the top.

Managing a business requires knowledge of all of the processes and idiosyncrasies of the departments that make up the organisation.

It involves the psychology of customer and their needs, both immediate and future. It needs recognition of the Supply Chain and the motivations of the suppliers and understanding of production and stock holding, handling as well the understanding of management of change.  Knowledge of accounting practices and a thorough insight in new Product Development.

These skills are extremely broad and are difficult to find, in balanced form, amongst candidates and are not abundant in many organisations. Of course, with a supporting team in place, expert direction can be given provided the business leader is interested in collaborative team working.

When choosing a leader. It is essential that they have an outlook that includes customer interaction and an understanding of developing business. This is crucial if the business is to be taken forward and requires a wealth of experience that’s best gained over years of marketing and hands on customer interaction.

Understanding supply and manufacturing issues at a top level can be realised through working alongside and being advised by the function heads. Manufacturing generally works on lining up the supply of component parts that then require building to a set tried and tested formula. It is mostly plan-able and deterministic.

But for any business, the business of the introduction of new products is a very important one. Some businesses can view the development of new products as a periodic expense on the core process of churning out manufactured products and therefore only engage in when the need is present. This can be too late for market and lets the competitors get a foothold. It is an old truism that if you’re not moving forward then you are going backwards. Standing still is an infinitesimally small place that is impossible to maintain. So setting sights on progress is the sure way of being the right side of the line.

Product development is a particularly expensive function to maintain within an organisation. Engineers are educated and increasingly mobile and often provide deep product knowledge that would leave the organisation vulnerable if they were to leave.

It is easy to feel that this is an unwarranted expense as the gains are only seen in the Sales Order book of coming years, by which time the investment has largely been forgotten and the current “non productive” costs of the team are a focus.

The development of new products frequently involves a process that is not precise. It involves guesses based on previous product data and gut instinct formed through experience. Often senior management are frustrated by what seems like an inordinate amount of time to develop and some of the uncertainty in the process.

In an ideal world, there would be a broad balance of knowledge of the disciplines in a managing director of an organisation. If that isn’t present, then it is essential that the technical lead in the business explains and lays out the general risks and uncertainties in the process and breaks down the reasons for these. This will include the reduction of product issues down the line with reduced production and customer complaints.