It's estimated that there are more than 684,000 manufacturing consultants in the United States alone. But how do you know which of the many lean manufacturing consulting firms is right for you?
Whether your company's focus is on facility design, factory layout, or process improvement, a lean consultant can make or break your business -- literally. Choosing the right consulting firm for your needs can dramatically improve your systems while choosing the wrong one can cost your company millions.
Luckily, there's no need to fear. By knowing what to look for, you'll be well equipped to avoid scammers and find the best lean manufacturing consultant for you.
The following are some things to look for when you're comparing lean manufacturing consulting firms.
Experience With Implementation
If the consulting firm only has three or four successful clients under their belt, you should probably look elsewhere. Different companies and industries vary widely, and so do the implementation techniques that have to be used in each. You should find a consultant who has helped multiple factories and brands succeed with lean manufacturing in a broad range of industries.
Maturity and Credibility
Many lean manufacturing consultants can perform well on the manufacturing floor, but how are they in the boardroom? A great consultant has to be a great change agent, so they must be able to convince mid- and senior-levels of your organization to try new ideas. Make sure you find a consultant who can be a respected mentor in the boardroom -- not just a titan on the floor.
When you're looking at prospective lean manufacturing consulting firms, take into account the actual results their past clients received. What did they actually accomplish? And how long did it take to experience those gains? Keep in mind that results were generated for the entire organization, not just one segment of it. And remember: true improvement shows itself as profits gained.
The best way for a consultant to earn this kind of knowledge is to experience it firsthand in a manufacturing enterprise. Make sure you find someone who has had experience implementing what they teach on the ground floor.
You need to be looking for lean manufacturing consulting firms with a proven process behind what they do. This process should have demonstrated that it not only gives quick returns but that it also enforces a culture of continual improvement in your company. Avoid those who promote the "solution in search of a problem" approach.
Bias Towards Action
Don't hire a consultant whose only "results" consist of binders full of statistics and ideas. While statistics are useful and ideas are a necessary foundation, both are worthless until put into action. Pay for results.
Value Over Cost
As noted at the beginning of this article, the wrong lean manufacturing consultant can cost you thousands -- even millions -- of dollars. This should be kept in mind throughout the process of looking for one to hire, especially when second-rate consultants try to tempt you with lower-than-average fees. As with most other fields, the cheapest option is almost never the best one, and often you will get what you pay for. Think of the lean manufacturing process as open-heart surgery for your company: look to hire the best.
Now that you know what to look for and what to avoid, you will be safe from many of the things that could go wrong when hiring a consultant. Contact Campbell Corporation with more questions today.