The ability of SMEs to grow in a sustained manner depends on them being able to consistently manufacture and deliver in time a product that is competitive in terms of quality and cost. This is severely constrained by various factors:
- Lack of resources – equipment, space, inspection and testing facilities
- Shortage of people with the skills to make best use of available resources
- Customer pressure for quality and delivery
- Rising costs of inputs
- Lack of awareness on best available management practices
Given the situation, SME entrepreneurs and top management are under severe stress on a daily basis and spend a lot of their time fire fighting for deliveries, working capital, handling customer queries and arranging resources. They do not have much time to devote to improvement and growth initiatives. At the same time, they are hesitant to look for external support and expertise since most consultants are oriented to working on a long term and high fee basis.
Implementing through Kaizen
We have developed an effective approach to significantly improve processes at a rapid pace while leading to sustainable growth in the business. Our focused improvement model using the Kaizen approach is ideally suited to SMEs and has been proven over multiple implementations across industry and geography.
1.1 Strategy and Road map
Implementation starts with a two day diagnostic exercise involving the functional heads, the top management of the unit and the entrepreneur. They are given an understanding of basic lean and kaizen philosophy and are involved in making a roadmap setting out the performance goals and the improvement projects to be taken up for achieving these.
1.2 Focused Improvement
Improvement projects are speedily implemented through focused improvement workshops over a 3 month time frame. We normally conduct one workshop of about 4 day duration each month during which bulk of the improvements are done and these are fine tuned and standardized over the rest of the month.
The improvements made translate into immediate business results but these have to be sustained in the long run to take the organization to the next level of performance. In this phase, we help the organization structure itself to support the path of continual improvement. Synchronization of supply chain and supporting functions is also taken up and the entire kaizen activity is handed over to the internal team. In certain cases where the SME is short of key management resources to sustain the initiative, KIAP can support with our COT solution.
KIAP has also worked with SME clusters where several like minded small organizations have come together to implement kaizen based improvements by sharing the consultant resource and fees.