Don’t Start What You Can’t Finish.

Green Dot

Don’t Start What You Can’t Finish.

Another problem companies have when they get busy is pushing incomplete orders into the production queue even before raw materials are delivered or before the design is fully specified. Inevitably what happens is that the job reaches a point in the process and cannot continue until the material, customer specifications, or design drawings are completed. Making products that cannot be completed or sold is a waste of scarce production capacity. The inevitable result is an unnecessary buildup of WIP inventory. A lot of management time will be wasted expediting what is missing.

The Toyota Production System stipulates that we should have direct customer-supplier connections with simple, unambiguous ways to send requests and receive responses. Before we pump orders into the production system, we need to know what we are making (finished and complete designs and specifications), and have the tools and materials to produce it. Remember that production is the customer of engineering, purchasing, and sales, and it is the job of those functions to provide accurate and complete information and materials to production to enable timely processing of customer orders. If they do not provide the information, then the customer (production) is entitled to say, “No, I cannot make that until you provide me what I need.” This approach sounds harsh but it works. It is entirely reasonable to ask customers to tell you exactly what they want before you start to make it. If they don’t, both you (as the manufacturer) and your customers suffer.

Likewise, by demanding service from their internal suppliers, and not accepting incomplete information and materials, production quickly educates sales, engineering, and purchasing of the necessity to supply complete information if they want customer orders completed correctly and on time. In return, when the customer-supplier relationship is reversed, sales can expect the customer to get the right product at the right time in the right quantity from production.

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