- Strategic Outsourcing
- Control & Automation
- Contract Manufacturing & Assembly
- Case Studies
- Resource Centre
- Interactive Facility Tour
PP Champions & Advocates
By working together, across the organisation and throughout departments, with key technical partners, and of course directly with the customer, PP Control & Automation use the power of collaboration to deliver measurable success.
It is part of a wider outsourcing strategy developed to deliver tangible benefits – being of compelling assistance to unlocking a customer’s growth potential.
But what are the common observations for machine builders and OEMs considering an outsourcing partnership, and what should it look like when it’s successful?
Sales Director, Garry Myatt can bring experience to the topic and shine a light on PP C&A’s uppermost pledge: Making outsourcing easy.
We sat down with Garry and asked him to dive-in deep and add real value in his answers to some important questions. Here’s the conversation in full.
The decision to outsource is a big one. And this might oversimplify it but, what big decision is ever easy?
There are many considerations upfront that will determine whether it is the right decision in the first place. That decision often comes at a specific time. A time when certain constraints surface; number of skilled people, lack of space or cash, struggles with process capability, machine build times and adapting to fluctuations in demand. There are many constraints, but these are common ones.
Machine builders and OEMs won’t always recognise outsourcing as the answer, however. They may focus on solving these areas of constraint internally without realising the impact that this size of investment would have. They’ll be taking attention away from what should be their focus – core competencies, the things they do that generate profit and not drain it, not to mention the many associated risks.
It is up to us to make machine builders aware of outsourcing as a solution to those constraints, the solution to mitigating risks and unlocking many other benefits. We do that by educating and providing evidence through marketing channels and conversations that the sales team has with prospective partners.
In conclusion, outsourcing isn’t ‘difficult’, but the decision to get there can be complex and will differ for every organisation, so outsourcing partners like PP C&A need to help with navigating those complexities – they need to make it easier for machine builders to ensure they’re making the right decision and make it easier to develop a plan with minimum disruption and fuss.
It is more a question of timing and making ‘the right’ decision. And that’s something they often don’t know.
We focus a lot of time understanding a machine builder or OEM’s typical business pains and what might be holding back growth. Over the years, we have worked with several different personnel and roles within an organisation and believe me – all have their very own pains and constraints to deal with. It is our duty to have a scenario and solution that can demonstrate the need for outsourcing and alleviate those pains, but sometimes the timing just isn’t right.
We have on several occasions in the past, identified or been approached by organisations only to turn the opportunity down as the business just isn’t ready for outsourcing yet and needs to fully explore alternative in-house options.
The important word here though is ‘yet’. It is likely that the time will come, and we like to ensure that we’re top of mind when it does. We do that by building trust, even with those that aren’t ready to use our services. Honesty and integrity are important traits to how we do or don’t do business.
Whether outsourcing is right or whether the timing is right should be an open and honest conversation because there is no simple answer – again, there are complexities, and it is up to us to make things easier for customers and prospects to understand and help make the right decisions.
It is a good question because there are several areas of consideration that will all need the proper amount of attention. And as such, this will be a long answer. Hold on to your seat…
So, assuming that the right areas suitable for outsourcing have been identified, ignoring some of the important considerations can be the single biggest threat to a successful partnership.
There are at least eight focus areas, or competencies of an outsourcing partner that will need to be properly explored: capability, security, size, supply chain skills, experience, approvals, innovation, and location.
For example, can the outsourcing partner do a better job than you can? Do they have the expertise, people, skills, facility, and automation to improve the production process, boost quality and even help develop designs in the future?
You wouldn’t want to get involved with a partner that’s financially weak, so do credit checks, look at accounts and ownership. And think back to the complexities and scale of your outsourcing needs, not just for today but for the mid to longer term. Ensure that you would not represent either too large or too small a part of that partner’s sales revenue.
The activities associated with purchasing and supply chain management are critical to a successful partnership so due diligence is important here. An outsourcing partner should have the capabilities and skills to inherit, manage and develop the associated supply chain. If you’re still having to manage parts of it and the costs, then you’re not going to see the true benefits.
Location here plays a critical role too, particularly today where many companies are grappling with the escalating costs, political unrest and other risks associated with managing a long-distance supply chain. Identifying partners closer to home would be sound advice. Think about the true cost of the relationship – lead times, agility, and risk, the need to retain design IP and so on.
Furthermore, you’ll likely have specific approval and certification requirements and if you’re export geographies have their own demands, an outsourcing partner will need to be able to comply. UL/CSA for the North American and Canadian markets is a common but stringent requirement for many European machine builders now.
We take a holistic view on outsourcing and the whole team play a different but key role in the success of project transfer and implementation.
You’re right, the sales team are the ones that have the conversations upfront and ‘open the door’ but from day one, through to the day of delivery, every department is critical.
Engineering for example take onboard the customer’s data, engage with customer operations and fellow engineers, always gleaning knowledge to build a greater understanding of the product and prepare for the first machine builds at PP. They’ll become know-it-all’s when it comes to the customer’s machine and they’ll combine that with their know-how to make for a smooth transition with minimum fuss.
Taking ownership of the supply chain can be a convoluted process, but again, this is another area where department experts will be making it easy. They’ll do this by managing the associated tasks of booking goods in, packaging disposal, parts storage and movement, delivery note processing, paying supplier invoices and so on.
Project management of course is critical on all NPI’s and is considered the ‘glue’ between the customer, engineering, and supply chain operations. Working closely with the customer and creating communication strategies helps generate an efficient and structured process to keeping everything on track, the customer informed, and aware of opportunities for continuous improvement.
Project management is designed to assist every step of the way. Be it with engineering design, DFMA, technical compliance and approvals, test specifications, supply chain considerations and packaging and logistics, methods of order placement or replenishment, general admin… there isn’t much an outsourcing partnership doesn’t take into consideration and take ownership of.
Yes, we call it the 3D process – discovery, decision, and delivery. The third ‘D’ is how the outsourcing partnership is defined and structured. And this delivery process is actually a good example of the ‘making outsourcing easy’ promise. It’s a stage-gate flow of nine segments.
It starts with scoping out and agreeing on the deliverables of the partnership, establishing a steering team and creating a detailed project plan with measures and timelines, identifying and managing risks, and reviewing all supply chain opportunities. Then it’s about agreeing production engineering opportunities and working through relevant NPI, pre-production and production volume strategies. And finally, measuring deliverables against the original objectives to ensure success and agree on any continuous improvement opportunities.
As you’ll see, there’s a lot to consider but the customer can take comfort from the fact that it’s all being taken care of, and we have processes in place designed with ease and control in mind.
In some respects, yes, and being easy to work with is one of the traits we teach to all employees as it holds a place on the sales flywheel and broadly within the company’s core values. It’s an important measure to ensure exceptional customer service, to make sure we ‘wow’ customers and always remain humble.
Outsourcing can be a very sensitive subject to machine builders and OEMs that are manufacturing and assembling themselves, so we treat the ‘easy to work with’ approach as one of knowledge sharing and partnership. It is about making those that we’re engaged with feel comfortable, trusting of our expertise, experience, and desire to build relationships that last the test of time, but also, ultimately benefit them.
By being transparent and open, we stay true to our message, and that message can be both ‘making outsourcing easy’ as well as ‘being easy to work with’.
Easy! We have numerous case studies, all endorsed by customers in different industry sectors and with different needs. They all highlight how we make outsourcing easy, how constraints are overcome, and of course, how they’re leveraging the benefits and growth that our outsourcing strategies unlock.
You just have to ask, and we’ll show you.
You can tell a lot, very quickly, from the quality and standing of our existing customers. And I know they’ll all tell you, we made things easy.
As part of an ongoing campaign that celebrates every walk of working life at PP Control & Automation, you’ll find out what makes us, well, us!
From outsourcing champions, exemplary engineers, culture promoters and rising stars, you’ll get access to thought leadership content, individual profiles and video interviews for key leaders, engineers, and apprentices, plus blogs and Q&As like this one, all showcasing the honest and open opinions from inside the organisation.
Come back to the blog in the coming weeks and throughout the year, follow PP Control & Automation on LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube, or by searching #PPCAchampions. For more direct access, subscribe and receive stories from the campaign in your inbox.