5 Things Manufacturers Need to Prioritize in 2021
What is your company’s biggest priority in the coming year? For some, it’s investments in technology and innovation. For others, it’s hiring. For still more, it’s a reassessment of what they’ve accomplished in the previous year and what they can do to build on that momentum. Whatever the case, it’s vital to start thinking about the strategy for the year ahead. To that end, manufacturers need to prioritize the items that are most integral to their success.
While these variables are different for every producer, there are many core priorities that every manufacturer needs to have. Here’s a look at some of the most important focus areas of the coming year and what they mean to manufacturers preparing for a changing global landscape in 2021 and beyond.
- Hiring and training. Do you have the workforce you need for the year ahead? Are you planning for growth? The skills gap is only growing larger, which means you need to consider your workforce capabilities for the year ahead as quickly as possible. The need for more capacity should be addressed with early-year hiring, and upskilling should be a priority no matter what.
- Process review. Are your processes sound? Is there room for improvement? Especially for factories with lean initiatives, the idea of continuous process improvement is something to consider in the New Year. Processes are the backbone of factory operations — taking the time to vet and improve them early in the year sets the tone for exceptional operations in the year ahead.
- Evaluating cash flow. Now, more than ever, cash flow is a lynchpin for stability. Are your operations yielding healthy margins? Do you have smooth-flowing accounts receivable (AR) and accounts payable (AP)? This is a good time to evaluate your value streams and determine your operational strengths. Is there an untapped source of revenue in your current operations or a way to enhance the capabilities of your production to create new revenue?
- Investment and resource planning. Piggybacking on cash flow and operations evaluation, now’s the time to start planning for the future. Do you have debt to pay down? New investments on the horizon? Investments in technology, equipment, or personnel to make? Resource planning needs to be front and center in the new year to ensure both fiscal stability and fruitful investments.
- Adjusting to the new norm. Above all, manufacturers need to acclimate themselves to the new norm — whatever that may be. While we move into the final phases of the pandemic, the world isn’t going back to normal. It’s up to each producer to figure out what the “new normal” is in their factory and what it means to adapt to that prospect. Figure out what’s staying the same, what’s changing, and how to congeal your operations.
Within the context of each of these priorities, manufacturers face the arduous task of planning for the year ahead. And while every factory’s priorities will be different, they’re all rooted in these five core areas of focus. Taking them under advisement now will lead to stability and security in the year to come and beyond.