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Best Strategic Planning and Succession Planning Frameworks for Small Manufacturers

For small businesses, especially those in manufacturing, the daily responsibilities of ensuring orders are fulfilled in a timely manner, clients’ expectations are properly met and general operations run smoothly can often feel like more than a full-time job. Of course, these aspects are staples of a well-run business — yet oftentimes, SMBs focus solely on their day-to-day operations to the detriment of short- and long-term strategic planning.

If you don’t have a plan in place for dealing with disruptions to your business’s operations and/or leadership, it’s much like embarking on a cross-country drive without a GPS. You might have a gut instinct about where you think you should be headed, but without a solid plan, you can soon wind up hopelessly lost and far off course. And when it comes to your business, that situation isn’t an option — especially since you have clients to please and competitors to stay ahead of.

Fortunately, MANTEC — a private, non-profit 501 (c) 3 specializing in manufacturing consulting — has been helping manufacturers in South Central Pennsylvania better meet their productivity and profitability goals for more than three decades. In that time, we’ve assisted thousands of manufacturing businesses with issues related to their strategic and succession planning. What follows is a summary of two specific strategies that, based on our extensive consulting experience, we believe every business should consider utilizing.

Strategic Planning: SWOT Analysis 101

Due to its effectiveness, SWOT — or strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats — analysis has for many years been one of the most popular forms of strategic planning for companies that want a 360-degree view of both their current and future business prospects.

By combining as much knowledge and data as a business can collect, a SWOT analysis lists out and compares the internal strengths and weaknesses of an organization — like the high quality of its products as well as possibly the high turnover of its warehouse staff. In addition, external business opportunities and threats are pinpointed — such as a new demographic that’s discovering the business’s products while costs for raw materials are rising due to newly established tariffs.

It was thanks to a SWOT analysis that the Coca-Cola Company was able to anticipate the threat to its sales from sports beverages. This vital strategic planning resulted in the company diversifying its product line with new, healthy drink offerings and creating marketing campaigns to win over new consumers to its primary products.

Succession Planning: A Framework for Future Success

When a company is fortunate enough to have good leadership, it rarely thinks about finding a replacement. But the truth is that if an organization is surprised by a sudden loss of leadership due to an unanticipated departure or worse, a tragedy, the detrimental impact can be great. Not only does the organization suffer a feeling of loss and uncertainty among its employees and stakeholders, but its clients and competitors can also view the interim period when the company is without strong leadership as a sign of weakness and instability.

That’s why it’s critical to develop a succession plan that anticipates any changes in leadership and encourages HR to foster growth opportunities for high-potential employees within the company. As a result, a succession plan becomes an active way of demonstrating a company’s commitment to its future success — and that of its employees.

For expert assistance conducting a SWOT analysis or establishing a succession plan, or for advice with any other forms of strategic planning, contact us today. MANTEC is dedicated to helping your business meet its goals.

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