Designing a Better Lead Time


In the manufacturing sector, “lead time” is considered a critical performance indicator and metric of business success. When a company receives a complex order—for a large number of precision-machined parts or a completed product with a large bill of materials, for example—a series of moving parts are placed into action with a single deadline on the horizon. The more effective the company’s lead time design, the more likely the deliverables will arrive at their intended destination in a safe, cost effective, and quality-controlled way.

A strong, forward thinking company will dedicate its resources to tighter lead time control, using carefully audits of each component of the delivery system to gather relevant data. The company will then analyze the data and apply this information to the practicalities of raw materials ordering, assembly, quality testing, warehousing, and distribution.

So how can the principles that tighten manufacturing lead time apply to other aspects of business success? How can effective lead time design be deployed to strengthen a company’s staffing strategy?

1. Perform Audits to Find Weak Links and Areas of Need

Don’t wait until the moment of crisis to swoop in and design a hiring plan from scratch. Instead, take a page from the manufacturing industry and act now to study every aspect of labor need and every aspect of the hiring process as it currently stands. Ask each manager in each department for feedback on the successes and failures of the current method, and gather input and information from your HR team.

2. Develop a Long Term Hiring Strategy

As you study each link in your hiring chain–from sourcing to resume review to selection to onboarding—determine how long the process takes on average for each position at each level. Then start planning ahead. If the company expands a new product line over the next three years, what impact will this have on hiring requirements for your accounting department? How about marketing and sales?

3. Build a Talent Pipeline

Whenever possible, cut costs and reduce risk by hiring from within. But in order to do this, you’ll need to start cultivating talents and shaping career development at the entry level. If you groom lower level employees for higher degrees of responsibility, they’ll be ready to step seamlessly into their new roles when the moment of need arrives.

For more on how to design a long term staffing program that can help you reduce lead times, prevent hiring mistakes, and keep your teams operating at full capacity, contact the staffing and management experts at CSS.

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